Reviewed: November 2005
Released: 2005, BlackStar Records
Wow, I don’t even know how to begin this review. There are so many people involved with this “band” (see the “Lineup” sidebar) that it’s next to impossible to trace the lineage. Short version: Stuart Smith recorded a lauded rock album in the late ‘90s with a number of big-time vocalists, was successful, made a LOT of friends in the rock world, and formed Heaven and Earth. If I’m not mistaken, this is the third release by the group, and its lineage is no less impressive than its predecessors. Featuring a who’s who of rock, including Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes, Ritchie Sambora, Chuck Wright, Carmine Appice, and Rage’s Mike Terrana (say what?!?) to name just a few, HEAVEN AND EARTH is a rock tour de force.
Making no apologies (proud actually), Stuart fills the disc with over an hour of classic rock music featuring all of the blistering solos (guitar and keyboard) and powerful vocals that you’d expect. Despite this being Stuart Smith’s project, it is the vocalists that shine the most, each of them giving performances that rank along with the best of their careers. When you’ve got guys like Glenn Hughes and Joe Lynn Turner aboard, that’s saying something. Mr. Smith must have really lit a fire under these guys. Of all of them though, Kelly Hansen gives the most powerful performances on his 4 songs.
Basically, this is classic rock to the core – all of the bluesy riffs, thumping drums, and dreary ballads (the Sambora-sung “When a Blind Man Cries” is hideous) are all here, blazed forth as if they were on stage at MSG in 1983. If you like big-chorused arena rock, you’ll love this. For me this was a breath of fresh air and I found myself air-guitaring and singing along for longer than I’d care to admit. But then, that’s just the point isn’t it?
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