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STUART SMITH / HEAVEN AND EARTH
SAMSUNG KOREA SSP-103PSP
OVERALL: 96%
  1. Don't Keep Me Waiting
  2. Heaven & Earth
  3. See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
  4. When A Blind Man Cries
  5. Trouble In Paradise
  6. Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree
  7. I Hate You So Much
  8. Dreams Of Desire
  9. Do You Ever Think Of Me
  10. Road To Melnibone
  11. Lose My Number
Stuart Smith is an English guitarist residing in Los Angeles, who has assembled one of the finest casts of musicians to ever grace a single album.
How can you knock an album that on the first four tracks, features the vocal talents of Kelly Hansen, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes and Richie Sambora?!!
You can't! But it is the songs and the guitar playing of Stuart that counts, and all I can say there is that this album is crammed with some of the most inspiring, technically brilliant, passionate, absorbing and stylish playing that I have ever heard.
I was originally recommended to track down Stuart and get to the bottom of the Heaven And Earth project, and when I was to receive an advance tape I thought cool!
But nothing prepared me for just how good this album sounds.
The production is just superb, and is tight, well mixed, balanced, and big big big! Pat Reagan was the man behind the desk, and needs to be congratulated, and should be hired instantly for more work.
The big budget comes courtesy of electronics giant, Samsung, who will be releasing it in Korea & China and the licensing for the rest of the world. That is being handled by Doc McGhee, one of the most powerful and influential managers in the music business today.
Stu may get to see himself a household name, as the album is finished and the result of which is being reviewed here today.
The album includes a couple of great covers that I will go into more soon, and some killer originals that at one stage were being demo-ed to be included on the upcoming Unruly Child record. But they are Stu's songs, and thankfully they have all been retained for the Heaven And Earth album.
So to the album!
The band varies from track to track, but Stuart is featured on guitar throughout and keyboards are handled by Ray Rodriguez on 6 of the 11 tracks. Pat Regan handles the others bar one track that features Teddy Andreas (who has also played with Guns And Roses, and has his own solo record out).
Don't Keep Me Waiting starts by building into a huge burst of guitar and keyboards.
This track features Kelly Hansen on vocals, who sounds fucking amazing! The guy just keeps getting bigger and better. A big hard rocking track, with an amazing guitar and organ duel towards the end of the track. Big, bluesy and hard!
Heaven And Earth features a fabulous acoustic guitar into performed by Stuart and Howard Leese (Heart). Real mood music, with keys going in the background.
Then Joe Lynn Turners voice glides into the track, and we have this enormous acoustic driven build into a chorus from heaven. It picks up the pace to this racing chorus, with Joe emotionally singing like his life depends on it. An AOR anthem is ever there was one, with hooks, bridges and guitars everywhere. The awesome drum sound comes courtesy of Hurricane/Unruly Child drummer Jay Schellen.
The album slows down just a little for a cover of the Blind Lemon Jefferson tune See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.
The song intro's with some very smooth blues riffs, and a Glenn Hughes vocal that sees him enjoying himself thoroughly and sounding like the God he is. Reminiscent of his 'Blues' album vocals. Killer! Before the band kicks in there is a swampy acoustic jam with Stu on acoustic & Richie Sambora on Dobro.
The songs rocks out after a smooth intro and sees Stuart flexing his muscles again, playing all over this track.
The huge bass sound comes from the legendary Chuck Wright, of House Of Lords/Quiet Riot/Impellitteri, and drums are from Carmine Appice.
When A Blind Man Cries is a Deep Purple cover, and the first proper blues ballad of the album, and features Richie Sambora on vocal and guitar.
This has to be one of the smoothest tracks of all time. Stuart's laid back blues guitar solo is just amazing. The whole feel of this track with the organ going flat stick, and Sambora's vocals blowing away anything on his latest solo record. I could listen to this all day!
Anyway, enough of this slow stuff! Trouble In Paradise is a flat out rocker, still with some blues influences, both from the guitar and some real rock n roll piano/guitar dueling.
Kelly Hansen again sings like a devil, and pulls of some great screams. Just check out the ending!
The next track is a real departure. Shadow Of The Tyburn Tree is a tribute to the minstrel music of old England. Joe Lynn Turner is singing, and reminds me of the sound of the Deep Purple album 'Slaves And Masters'. This song is also far better than anything on the Blackmore's Night album. I am not sure if it is the great guitar sound, or a better song, a better vocal or just all three. Also a nice change of pace for the album.
I Hate You So Much gets is back into the hard rocking blues sounds, again with Joe on vocals. A great rocking party tune, with nice heavy guitar and some cool backing keyboards.
Dreams Of Desire is an instrumental that gives Stuart a chance to shine on his own. A fantastic guitar sound that is backed by Howard Leese from Heart on strings, and Pat Regan on keys. The songs bases itself around the classical tune by JS Bach. If only he could hear what is being done to it now! The keys are amazing and the guitar playing is fast and furious yet retains it's passion. One of the best instrumentals of the decade! I love it when it slows toward the end.
Do You Ever Think Of Me starts with more smooth and moody guitar, with Kelly Hansen whispering the verse, until the bridge and chorus bring things to the boil. Another huge AOR anthem, and a power ballad in the true sense of the word. This will be a big live favourite. Plenty of soloing for guitar fans.
Chuck Wright is again featured on Bass and plays on the last three tracks of the album, and Carmine Appice on drums.
Road To Melnibone is another instrumental that features Howard Leese on 12 string acoustic. A smooth and slower instrumental.
Lose My Number is the last track on the album, and sees it finish as it started - with a big hard rocking number.
Kelly Hansen sings, Chuck Wright, Jay Schellen, Ray Rodriguez and Stuart Smith play the power rock card. Just check out the solo on this one!
I can't praise this album enough. It is surely one of the best little gems that have passed through my hands while running the Hot Spot. I wait anxiously for the CD to arrive!
The album has plenty for everyone, including fans of blues rock, all things Purple (JLTurner, Hughes), fans of Kelly Hansen, Chuck Wright, Jay Schellen, Richie Sambora (outstanding), and the list goes on.
Like I said earlier - chock full of passion and masterful playing from all involved.
If you are a fan of rock and roll, this album is an absolute essential purchase.
Keep and eye on the newsdesk, and I will let you know when and where it will be available.
PRODUCTION: 94% SONGS: 95% VIBE: 98% ATTITUDE: 99%
ESSENTIAL FOR FANS OF: Deep Purple / Blues Hard Rock / Joe Lynn Turner / Glenn Hughes


24/01/01: Rockystar - rockystar@hastajuego.com
Rating: 97
una produccion excelente, asi como la eleccion de los temas y de de los musicos,un disco que me sorprendio gratamente

07/01/01: Craig - bish@eisa.net.au
Rating: 98
I was disappointed to here that Kelly Hansen will not be joining him for his second outing. At least we have this Classic sounding blues album from an awesome guitarist. Excellent effort by all vocalists involved.

10/05/00: Tommy Hittmann Fiore - Hittmann98@Aol.Com
Rating: 100
Having had the pleasure of knowing Stuart Smith for over 2 plus years and becoming quite good friends.
I will put this cd up anything that has come out in the last 20 years. This is a cd I never get tired of. Great playing, great production, and just a killer cd. This guy is truly a magical player. I cant wait for the new one.

Tommy Hittmann Fiore

01/05/99: KATERELOS ANGELOS - akaterel@pouliadis.gr
Rating: 85
A brilliant album for the die hard Deep Purple - Rainbow fans. Mr Smith doesnt take many risks with his playing, and he sure sounds identical with Man In Black. But i'm not quiet sure if it's right or wrong for him.Looking forward for the second more imanigative and " blow my head out with melodic rock " album from Mr. Smith. And hey Stuart why dont you come to Greece we are pleeding for good AOR rock. Keep on Blackmoring.....and may the Black force be with yo

31/01/99: Dave - Orangehole@aol.com
Rating: 80
This is a good cd but not worthy of all the hype these people are giving it. "The best cd i have heard in years"???? No!! far from it but this cd does have 3 or 4 killer tracks but i'll pass on the instrumental tracks..they are boring. Actually this is the way i wish Hurricane soundedth

16/01/99: Nigel - Nigelshan@aol.com
Rating: 100
This album really smokes. Killer guitar playing and killer songs.

08/01/99: Frank - fbelt39867@aol.com
Rating: 100
Heaven & Earth:

With all the grunge and pop music emanating from today's radio airwaves, there is a pleasant surprise in the form of Stuart Smith's "Heaven & Earth" record. The songs, all mostly original, are co-written by Smith and his list of luminary musicians that include Richie Sambora, Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Howard Leese, and Carmine Appice to name but a few.

The first thing apparent on this record are the virtuosity of the musicians. These guys can definitely play, but it is the quality of the songs that standout. The title track is a superb acoustic driven Zeppelinesqe rock ballad where Joe Lynn Turner croons this catchy melody with a desperate passion. The record itself is an eclectic mix of blues, rock and even some classical themes thrown in for good measure. Check out the J.S. Bach inspired instrumental "Dreams of Desire" which is sure to make a few guitar purists stand up and take notice.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is Richie Sambora's soulful interpretation of the little known Deep Purple B-side, "When a Blindman Cries". A fairly unknown gem, which is a slow blues song more in the style of BB King then Deep Purple. Sambora pulls off the vocals beautifully, while he and Smith burn up some tasty blues on the old Fender Stratocaster. Other notable stand out tracks include the foot stomping "Lose My Number" where the guitar and Hammond organ trade licks at a frenzied pace and the AOR driven "Do You Ever Think of Me" which I can't stop humming.

While a lot of guitar players either cannot play or won't stop playing, Stuart Smith has created some ear-bending licks that are both imaginative and oozing with style to go along with this collection of rousing songs. What I am talking about here is a Rock N Roll Record where the songs are bold and cleverly served up. Don't take my word for it, go have a listen for yourself and enjoy one of the year's best rel

05/01/99: Vladd - Vladds1@aol.com
Rating: 100
This is definitely the best album to come out for a long time. Great songs, great playing, great production. Stuart Smith rightfully takes his place with the big 4, (Clapton, Beck, Blackmore and Page).

18/12/98: Lisa - fotogoduss@aol.com
Rating: 100
Stuart"s album rocks. By far, the best album I"ve heard in the last ten years.

09/12/98: ADOLFO - j059480803@abonados.cplus.es
Rating: 98
AWESOME ALBUM WITH A GREAT GUITARRIST AND MONSTER VOCALS

09/12/98: Henrik Sjogren - hsj@fona-gruppen.dk
Rating: 98
It is simply the best album of 98, Let`s hope that there will
be another CD, like this from Stuart Smith, next year.


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