From the hand of Casper De Ro Ro is this review of “Dig”. You can read the full review here.
DIG is a superlative milestone in the ongoing journey of the pure and classic rock archetype.
Modern emphasis and freshness put to the classic melodies and a lead voice that will resurrect every rock voice you have ever heard and give an additional dimension by compounding them into one stunning expression.
I desperately wish to hear Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Gillian’s critiques of this phenomenal work.
But, knowing the individual backgrounds of the contributing artists a collective harmonisation is bound to end in triumph.
Joe Retta possesses vocal capacity characteristically the envy of any rock or metal vocalist. A natural for the classic rock genre with the ability to adorn melody with lyrical soul. His history is one of inspiration and musical success, however after listening to Dig, his joining with former Sweet guitarist Stuart Smith, to date surely his most terrific musical leap forward.
Arlan Schierbaum commenced piano lessons at the age of four and as those new to his work could well imagine, he is a profoundly stunning master of the keyboards. His involvement with Dig is absolutely brilliant contributing to the opening track with magnificent performance on Piano, Hammond organ, Synthesiser, Mellotron and Clavioline.
Chuck Wright contributes to this magnificent work on Bass. Probably best known for his work with Quiet Riot, Chuck has always been a key contributor to many bands and their recording.
Richie Onori is an accomplished drummer, guitarist, song writer and singer. Picking up the drum sticks at the age of eleven and Richie became successful quickly. He continues to have an extraordinary career including contemporary performances with SWEET.
Previously destined to follow in his father’s footsteps serving as a jet pilot with the Royal Air Force (UK), Stuart Smith took a sharp turn toward a shining career in music. Mentored personally by the legendary Ritchie Blackmore it would seem that his life has been building to this album. A guitarist of international repute and success throughout the 80’s and 90’s, his time with Sweet formed the determined intent and vision that would eventually become Heaven and Earth. The creation of Stuart Smith’s Heaven & Earth circa 1999 is well known to most rock devotees. Collaborations with Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), Camine Appice (Vanilla Fudge), guitarist Howard Leese (Heart) and singer Kelly Hansen (Foreigner) lead to building success.
The opening sounds experienced in Victorious have you guessing early, although the guitar skills are faultless and before long you are nodding your head with a symbolic clenched fist aloft “Mano-y-mano” in lyrical union with Joe. The inclusion of Santur, played by Max Sadeghi and the introduction orchestration by Dave Jenkins are at very worst, masterstrokes giving the album a profound opening and demonstrating the skills of these collective musical masters assembled.
Having received an inspiring introduction to the album and sound, we move on to No Money No Love. This incredibly crisp and refreshing sound provokes recollection of days gone past and a joyful realization that these are new tracks and new achievements. The group are joined by Dave Jenkins and Dominic Quarto on background vocals giving the track a deeper vocal dimension reminiscent of the 70’s.
The amazing skills of each artist are beautifully highlighted in I Don’t Know What Love Is. The collective harmonies at mid-point are nothing short of breathtaking and an ‘old school’ rock guitar solo is welcome and natural. The band are joined by the background vocals of Lyndsay Haldorson, Francesca Capasso, Alicia Morgan, Dave Jenkins, Pettra Tyus-Mapp, Lavone Barnett-Seetal and the Agape Love Ensemble. Armand Melnbardis performs on violin, David Paich is on strings and Howard Leese adds acoustic guitar. All contributors entwined in melodic sway give this track a truly astounding depth of sound. The more frequently you listen to the track, the more aural treasures you experience.
Following a beautiful ballad Man and Machine steps in to kick your arse back into rocking rhythm and remind us of what a fantastic residence the keyboards hold in pure rock music. The unmistakable signature sound box effects of Richie Sambora and his skillful electric and slide guitar complement this track perfectly.
If your head nodding in melodic approval was getting a little too ‘metal mosh’, House Of Blues is presented in timely fashion to lure us back into the intended genre. Back In Anger and Waiting for the End of the World are utterly brilliant pieces and reminders of where our rock roots are buried deep in the electrically energised era of musical history.
The entire album increases in harmonic complexity and Rock and Roll Does defines the work perfectly. Joe Retta gives the sound the wonderfully gritty edge of the harmonica. A Day Like Today struck me unawares, however, before long I found myself re-experiencing the intricacies of classic rock in days gone by. It is a perfect inclusion and a terrific aide-mémoire of the experience, knowledge and skill of the masters. Joined for this track by Howard Leese on guitar and strings while Armand Melnbardis plays violin. A beautiful and subtle flute is played by Joe Retta.
Good Times immediately brings a gratuitously colossal smile to my face and I can’t stop it. It is a master stroke of production to include this as the penultimate piece. Those who appreciate this album will be left craving more, just as Live As One brings the album to a most fitting end. Without seeking to misinterpret the lyrics, this track demonstrates how this band, their experience and influences, honour past legends lost to time and simultaneously create an new era of classic rock appreciation. The symbiosis of musician and melody is demonstrated perfectly as audiences are treated become lyrically entwined in this superb work.
What to expect next?
Now with the current line up assembled and hard at work, I am sure all is in place for yet another phenomenal and spectacular production. Please?
Audiences keenly await the next installment involving:-
Ty Bailie, a tremendously talented and diverse keyboard player limited to no genre. His list of alliances throughout his distinguished career extremely varied and extensive.
Lynn Sorensen, quite literally a legendary musician and bassist, he performed as a member of the Living Legends Concert for NAMM 2013. Musician from bands such as Iron Maiden, Quiet Riot, Three Dog Night, The Motels, Asia, Yes, Bad Company, Blue Oyster Cult, BB King formed this fabulous group.
Whilst still focusing on legends, Kenny Aronoff is the percussionist for this behemoth of rock. Arguably the most sought after drummer in contemporary music history he was voted number one Pop/Rock Drummer and the number one Studio Drummer for five consecutive years by Modern Drummer Magazine’s audience.
Brace yourself for an indication of whose line up this man has graced. Or perhaps it’s the other way around? Dave Grohl, Bonnie Raitt, John Mellencamp, George Jones, The Smashing Pumpkins, Ringo Starr, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alanis Morissette, Puddle of Mudd, Bob Seger, Melissa Etheridge, Rod Stewart, Waylon Jennings, Alice Cooper, Mick Jagger, Avril Lavigne, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Santana, Don Henley, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Jon Bon Jovi, Bob Dylan, Ricky Martin, Patti LaBelle, Conway Twitty, John Fogerty, Joe Cocker, Elton John and the list just keeps on going. I for one don’t know what I have been doing with my time in comparison.
Casper De Ro Ro
Many thanks to Stuart Smith