Heaven & Earth – ‘Hard To Kill’

 


THE BAND:
Joe Retta : Vocals
Stuart Smith: Guitar
Lynn Sorensen : Bass & Vocals
Steve Wilson : Drums
Mike Mangan : Hammond & Vocals

 

 

TRACK FRAGMENTS:
1.)“Hard To Kill” – There was a minor lead guitar solo over the top of this intro section.  The was this intro was arranged reminded me more of a coda than opening intro.  The main intro consisted of a heavily influenced Deep Purple intro sound.  There was a small rhythm guitar change underneath the lyric lines.  Scattered throughout the verse Stuart played little lead guitar licks.  Stuarts guitar licks where amazing!!!!  After the second chorus there was a breakdown section.  This musical breakdown consisted of a vocal arrangement.  The breakdown lead to a lead guitar solo.  Some of the notes of the solo were the same notes that Blackmore has used.  Stuart’s guitar playing on this track just blew me away!  After the third chorus there was a keyboard solo.  The solo ran through the coda.
2.) “Walk Away” – The keyboard that opened this track consisted of an alien movie effect. This effect runs underneath Stuart rhythm guitar arrangement. Joe sings a vocal accent over the top of the main musical intro. Underneath the first two lyric lines Stuart used the same rhythm guitar riffs he played for the musical intro. After the second lyric line there was a rhythm guitar change. In the middle of the chorus there was a couple lead guitar licks. Before the second chorus there was a pre-chorus. This pre-chorus consisted of an underlining backing harmony. In the middle of the second chorus Stuart played a few lead guitar licks just as he did in the first chorus. After the second chorus there was ac musical breakdown that lead to a lead guitar solo. The solo lead through the coda of the song.
3.) “Till It's Over” – This track opened with a heavily blues influenced musical intro. Over the top of the intro arrangement there was a minor lead guitar solo. The musical verse consisted of a solid groove. After the first chorus there was a minor lead guitar solo. After the second chorus there was a major lead guitar solo section. After the solo there was a small drum solo that connected the guitar solo with the chorus.
4.) “Bleed Me Dry”– This track was one hell of a Heaven And Earth ballad!!!
5.) “The Game Has Changed – This track opens with a very cool bass line. Stuart’s rhythm guitar of the main intro section had a modern rock feel to it. Joe sang a few vocal accents. These vocal accents followed along with what Stuart was playing on guitar. There was a rhythm arrangement change for the musical verse. The band picked the arrangement up for the musical chorus. After the third chorus there was a guitar/harmonica solo.
6.) “Anthem” -This track opened with a tom-tom/snare pattern. Over the top of the tom-tom/snare pattern there was a lead and backing harmony. The musical verse consisted of a very simple rhythm guitar arrangement. Scattered throughout the verse Stuart overdubbed several lead licks. All in all this was a very simple song that showcased Steve’s drum playing.
7.) “Monster” – This track opened with a lead lick. The main intro section opened with a drum pattern. Stuart double-tracked two different rhythm guitar arrangements for this intro section. Over the top of the music arrangement Joe sang a vocal accent. The band used the same music arrangement for the musical verse. There was a rhythm changer for the musical chorus. The bass line of the chorus was amazing. After the second verse there was a huge snare fill that lead to a lead guitar solo. Joe is an amazing vocalist however this has to be one of his better vocal jobs!
8.) “LA Blues” – Just another amazing ballad!!!!!
9.) “Hellfire” – This track opens with a guitar effect before going into a blistering short Deep Purple style intro. There was a rhythm guitar change for the musical verse. The rhythm guitar was laced in between the lyric lines. Underneath the lyric lines there was a harmonica arrangement. There was an arrangement change for the short chorus. After the first chorus there was a harmonica solo. The lead guitar solo was after the second chorus. After the solo there was a breakdown section. This breakdown section included all instruments. Stuart used a guitar effect for the guitar rhythm of the coda.
10.) “Beautiful Monsters” – This was an amazing Heaven And Earth song! Stuart really out done himself on the writing on this track!
11.) “Bad Man” – This was another amazing song that was heavily inf;luernced by seventies Bad Company.



    I have known Stuart Smith since 1999 when I first reviewed his band’s self-titled release titled, ‘Heaven & Earth’.  From that moment on I became a die-hard fan of Stuarts.  I can tell you one think that helped me become a fan and this was before I even listened to a song and that was knowing he is the only person or at least one of the very very few that legendary guitarist Ritchie Blackmore took under his wing and taught him to play.  As much of a reclusive person as Ritchie is it would not surprise me if Stuart was the only one.  As I reviewed the self-titled release I tried to keep in mind that Stuart had an all-star band along with a who’s who singing on the songs so the CD being as good as it was could have been a fluke.  Boy was I wrong!!  The next three, ‘Windows To The World’, ‘A Taste Of Heaven’ and ‘Dig’ was equally as awesome. 
With ‘Hard To Kill’ Stuart has done it again and release a eleven song CD where every song is above a 10!  If fact, every song just explodes the 10 scale to pieces.  Steven Tyler (Aerosmith) once said, “you’re only as good as your last masterpiece, or in their case your last release”, at Stuart Smith’s rate he will never stop creating master pieces!  ‘Hard To Kill’ along with the other Heaven & Earth releases are absolute must haves within you CD collection!