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Heaven & Earth (featuring Stuart Smith) 
By Zane Ewton

Previously released in 1999 Heaven & Earth is getting a second chance with an expanded re-release.  Stuart Smith is the driving force and has staked a claim as a premier rock guitarist.

At the recent All Access L.A. Music Awards show Smith won “Best Guitarist” and Heaven & Earth won “Best Overall Album”. 

Smith is a classically trained guitarist, also receiving instruction from the legendary Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore.  Smith’s guitar style is all over this album, flowing between blues, classical and hard rock.

There is so much guitar on this album that you will form calluses on your fingertips while you listen.  But the guitar is never overbearing or overplayed.  Besides an obvious technical proficiency, Smith is a good songwriter and chooses to work with other good songwriters.  The songs are what make this a strong album and much more than just guitar gymnastics.

Heaven & Earth features a collection of some brand names in rock and roll.  “Don’t Keep Me Waiting” features vocals by Kelly Hansen, which are convincing enough to pull off a lyrically weak chorus.  The title track “Heaven & Earth” includes vocalist Joe Lynn Turner and guitarist Howard Leese.

Some of these names may be unfamiliar to some of the kids, but fans of these musicians will thoroughly enjoy this album and fondly remember a time when hair was long and pentatonic scales were used.

A cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean” includes Glenn Hughes on vocals, Richie Sambora on Dobro and Carmine Appice on drums.

Sambora also offers vocals and guitar on one of the album’s many highlights, “When a Blind Man Cries”.  “Dreams of Desire” is an instrumental inspired by Bach.  “Shadow of the Tyburn Tree” is a traditional English folk song written today about an event that happened over 400 years ago.  Yes, there are serious about it and it’s not as bad as it sounds.

The album loses some steam after the “Tyburn Tree” but redemption comes with the last track, “Lose My Number” which is just a good rock and roll song with some keyboards and a boogie beat.

Rock and roll is steeped in the blues and rock guitarists have used classical influences for a long time.  Smith has both schools within his nimble fingers and uses them to maximum effect.

CD Info 

Heaven & Earth (featuring Stuart Smith)
Label: Black Star Records
1. Don't Keep Me Waiting 
Kelly Hansen (Hurricane)
2. Heaven & Earth
Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow)
3. See That My Grave is Kept Clean
Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple)
4. When A Blind Man Cries
Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi)
5. Life on the Line*
Bobby Kimball (Toto)
6. Dreams of Desire (instrumental)
7. Still Got the Blues*
Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow)
8 . Do You Ever Think of Me 
Kelly Hansen (Hurricane)
9. It's Got to Be Love 
Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow)
10. Shadow of the Tyburn Tree 
Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow)
11. Road to Melnibone' (instrumental)
12. When the Blues Catch Up with You
Al Mirikitani (BB Chung King)
13. Howlin' at the Moon
Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt)
14. Memories
Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow)
15. Trouble in Paradise 
Kelly Hansen (Hurricane) 
16. Lose my Number 
Kelly Hansen (Hurricane) 

* denotes bonus track

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