Heaven & Earth - 'Dig'  

THE BAND:
Stuart Smith - guitar
Richie Onori - drums
Joe Retta - vocals
Chuck Wright - bass
Arian Schierbaum - keyboards
   


TRACK LISTING:
1.) " Victorious -
(Additional Musicians: Santur -Max Sadeghi)This intro opens with Max Sadeghi playing a Santure - {(also santūr, santour, santoor )is a Iranian hammered dulcimer It is a trapezoid-shaped box often made of walnut or different exotic woods. The Iranian classical santur has 72 strings, 18 sets of four.} Over the top of this intro Stuart plays a Largo (slowly), Middle Eastern minor lead guitar solo.  At the end of the first measure Stuart begins to play a middle Eastern lead guitar scale.  The musical verse consisted of a Middle Eastern chord arrangement. For the opening lyric line of the verse Stuart switched from the Middle Eastern chord arrangement to mainly fill-in chords.  This let Chuck and Ritchie's bass line and drum like be the main instrumentation.  The main instrumentation of the verse consisted of a keyboard arrangement.  There is a tom-tom fill connecting the verse with the chorus.  There is a tom-tom fill in between the fourth and fifth lyric line then a minor solo underneath the fifth lyric line.  Connecting the second chorus with the third verse there is a lead guitar solo.  The lead guitar solo was heavily influenced by some of the solo work Ritchie Blackmore recorded when he was with Rainbow.  It seemed as the solo progressed it speeded up.  After the solo there is an intro repeat.  Underneath the lyric lines of the second verse there are two different rhythm guitar arrangements.   
2.) " No Money, No Love -This is the first single taken off of the CD.  This track opens with a guitar riff over the top of a keyboard arrangement and a tom-tom fill.  The main intro opens with a tom-tom pattern that ends in a vocal accent.  The keyboard arrangement of the main intro was heavily reminiscent to the keyboard arrangements Jon Lord wrote on the Deep Purple re-union CD titled, 'Perfect Strangers' originally released on September 16, 1984.  The way Joe's phrased the lyric arrangement was very similar to the way Joe Lynn Turner phrased his lyric arrangements.  Joe's vocals even have a Joe Lynn sound to them.  In fact if the listener wasn't that familiar with Joe Lynn they could argue the point that it was him singing.  The connecting between the verse and chorus was very smooth.  After the first chorus there was a small snare fill.  After the second chorus there was a timing change with Ritchie switching  to a sixteenth-note hi-hat pattern.  Over the top of this sixteenth-note hi-hat change here is a rhythm guitar riff and lead vocal line.  Ts breakdown section leads to minor lead guitar solo.  In between the solo and the third verse there is a small rattle (rattlesnake efect) percussion.  The choruses have a huge hook attached to them.
3.) "I Don't Know What Love Is" -(Additional Musicians: David Paich - Strings, Armand Melnbardis - Violin, Howard Leese - Acoustic Guitar) The rhythm guitar that opens this intro is a note or two from being the same rhythm as the main keyboard on Foreigner's - "Waiting For a Girl Like You".  Originally released on Foreigner's '4' on July 2, 1981. (It was also on the Footloose soundtrack) To connect the first intro measure with the second there is a guitar strum.  For the second measure Chuck kicks-in the bass line.  Stuart altered the rhythm guitar arrangement for the musical verse just a little. Joe's vocal's of the verse are amazing!  In fact in my opinion they are some of the best vocals I have ever heard!!!  After the last lyric line of the verse Ritchie plays a small tom fill to kick-in the drum line.  At this point it sounded like there was a second rhythm guitar underneath Stuart's main guitar arrangement. The choruses of this song are probably the best Stuart as ever written!!!  After the second chorus there is a lead guitar solo section.  There are several backing harmonies underneath the lead guitar solo.  The lead guitar solo runs over the top of the coda.  This track alone proves the fact Stuart made the right decision in hiring Joe as the new Heaven and Earth vocalist.  I hope this makes for a long lasting relationship.  
4.) "Man & Machine"(Additional Musician -  Richie Sambora : Electric Guitar, Slide Guitar, Talk Box)-This intro opens with a rhythm guitar arrangement over the top of a tom-tom/snare pattern. There is a small keyboard arrangement in between the tom-tom/snare pattern and the rhythm guitar arrangement.  Connecting the first measure with the second measure of the intro there is a vocal scream.  After the vocal scream there is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first half of the intro with the second half of the intro.  After the minor solo there is an intense musical change.  For the music arrangement chance Ritchie switched from a tom-tom/snare pattern to a standard hi-hat rhythm.  There was a rhythm guitar arrangement change for the musical verse.  Joe's phrasing of the verses were very reminiscent to a lot of the lyric arrangements Joe Lynn Turner has written over the years.  In fact, Retta's vocal sound kind of has a JLT sound to them.  The last lyric of the verse consisted of a whole-note.  There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the second lyric line with the third lyric line.  There is a small rhythm change for the musical chorus.  Musically the second verse was a repeat of the first.  For the third chorus there were a couple lead guitar licks connecting the first and second lyric line.  The coda consisted of a breakdown section. 
5.) "House Of Blues" - This intro opens with a whole-note keyboard chord using the pipe organ sound. After the whole-note Stuart kicks-in his guitar arrangement.  The rhythm Stuat wrote was heavily influenced by a lot of the guitar rhythms Jimi Hendrix was writing before his untimely death on September 18, 1970.  Though there is a small rhythm change for the musical verse it's the keyboard arrangement that is the main instrumentation.  The keyboard arrangement gave the song a seventies feel.  The musical verse was kept very simple.  There was a minor solo connecting the first and second lyric line of the second verse.  There is a minor lead guitar solo after the second chorus.  The major solo is after the breakdown section.  The solo runs underneath the third chorus.  After the third chorus there is a keyboard solo.
6.) " Back in Anger -( Additional Musicians - Newscaster - David Marc) -This intro consisted of a very cool bass line and tom-tom pattern.  At the end of the third measure Arian begins playing a keyboard arrangement.  This keyboard arrangement is mainly keyboard fill-in chords.  For the last measure of the pre-chorus Stuart kicks-in a guitar rhythm.  This guitar rhythm was much like the keyboard arrangement and just mainly fill-in cords.  Ritchie plays a tom-tom fill to connect the intro with the musical verse.  Stuart plays a minor lead guitar solo rhythm for the opening verse.  For the musical verse Ritchie switches between a standard hi-hat rhythm and a tom-tom pattern.  This gave the drum line a rocking beat.  In between the lyric lines and drum line Stuart plays a fill-in riff.  This allows Ritchie to show Just how great of a drummer he is.  The rhythm change of the musical chorus was very smooth and consisted of a huge vocal and musical hook.  There is a minor solo in between the first and second lyric line of the second verse.  The breakdown section consisted of a news report done by David Marc.  The news report leads to a lead guitar solo.  After the lead guitar solo there is a keyboard solo.  Stuart plays a minor solo rhythm over the top of the coda.
8.) " Sexual Insanity" - This intro opens with two keyboard whole-notes.  After the whole-notes Stuart double-tracked two different rhythm guitar arrangements along with a small minor lead guitar solo.  underneath the lyric lines the bass and drum line kicks-in.  Stuart used the same rhythm for the musical verse as the ones that opened the musical verse.  There is a snare fill alog with a rhythm guitar change for the musical pre-chorus. The chorus had a huge hook attached to it. There is a small palm muting effect connecting the second pre-chorus with the second chorus.  After the second chorus Ritchie switches to a tom-tom pattern.  After the breakdown there is a keyboard solo. 
9.) " Rock & Roll Does" - This is a straight forward rock and roll song!
10.) " A Day Like Today -( Additional Musicians Howard Leese : Acoustic Guitar & StringsArmand Melnbardis : Violin) -If you're into seventies music then you'll love this track!
11.) " Good Times - (Additional Musicians Howard Leese : Acoustic Guitar) - This track is musically and lyrically amazing!!!!
12.) "Live as One" (Additional Musicians Howard Leese : Acoustic Guitar & Strings, Armand Melnbardis : Violin, Dave Jenkins : Percussion., Background Vocals : Joe Retta, Dave Jenkins Choir : Agape Love Ensemble- Put the music aside vocally this track really expresses joe's huge vocal talent!!!


     What can I say about 'Dig'??? Or for Heaven & Earth for that matter???  This is a question I have been mulling over for several days.  Mainly because I have been friends with Stuart since '97 and I want the review to be as unbiased as possible. Sometimes that can be very difficult.
     For the few out there who have no clue who Stuart Smith is he is the only guitarist guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore thought was good enough to teach (I would love to hear the two do a song or CD together!).  On a non-musical related note when Stuart's not playing guitar with his band Heaven And Earth he is a policeman for the Los Angeles Police Department.
     'Dig' is Heaven And Earth's third release.  It is also the second release were Stuart enlisted the use of just one vocalist.  That vocalist is Joe Retta who he performed with when Steve Priest formed his version of Sweet in 2008.   Outside of Sweet's live CD titled, 'Live In America' this is the first CD consisting of studio songs that Joe has ever sang on.  Rounding out the band is longtime Heaven And Earth drummer Ritchie Onori, Arlan Schiebaum on keyboards and bassist Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, House Of Lords & Guffria).***Chuck also played on Stuart's first release titled, 'Heaven And Earth' released in '97.***  The band also enlisted the help of such musicians as, Howard Leese (formerly of Heart), Ritchie Sambora (Bon Jovi) just to name a few.
     Like with the previous two Heaven And Earth releases Stuarts playing and songwriting is spot on!!!!  Which I expected no less.  However I must say the highlight of the CD is the rare gem of Joe Retta's vocals.  Putting these two things together made for what I could say ranks up there as one of the greatest CD's I have ever heard.  You absolutely have to have this CD!!!!!