(Black Star Records)
Running Time : 72:19

I ?m still a bit sad, that I seem to have lost my copy of ?Windows to the world? somewhere in transit, but then again I was happy as a puppy when I got a re mastered copy of the excellent debut from Stuart Smith and his company of merry men and guests. Originally released in 1999 Heaven & Earth is presented here with enhanced sound quality and an additional 2 tracks. Stuart Smith is an awesome guitarist and a very well versed songwriter. He manages to deliver over an hour of flawlessly played guitar driver hard rock with blues roots, that never becomes too boring or overindulgent. He even throws in a few covers that are reinterpreted beautifully and feel right at home, without spoiling the flow of this splendid record.

Smith?s playing is elegant, soulful, proficient and has that ?invisible touch?, that really makes him stand a cut above, many of his peers. It has that ?Duende?.

Heaven & Earth?s debut has almost more guests than it has songs, (nah-just pulling your leg) but Smith who has jammed with none other than Mr Blackmore has gathered an impressive host of guests. We can find Kelly Hansen (Hurricane), Richie Sambora (Bon Jovi), Glenn Hughes (DP, trapeze and many many more), Bobby Kimball (Toto), Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, solo, Malmsteen and a lot more again) Howard Leese of Heart, Paul Shortino Of Rough Cutt, Mike Terrana, of too many to mention, recently in Rage, and even Steve Priest of the Sweet. Sweet !!! And that?s half and some of the better known guests? ehehhe. We got a number a cover of Blind Lemon Jefferson?s ?See That My Grave is Kept Clean? another one of DPs, ?When a Blind Man Cries?. We got Still got the Blues by Gary Moore, we have a J.S.Bach inspired instrumental tune in ?Dreams of Desire?, a rearrangement of an old English folk song ?Shadow of the Tyburn Tree? about the execution of some poor blue eyed lasses over accusations of witchcraft. And you got me crossing fingers and toes that I haven?t forgotten to mention any of the covers, this is after all a 16 track cd, hehe. The aforementioned covers sit well between excellent originals like ?Don?t Keep me waiting?, the rocking and rolling ?Trouble in Paradise?, the very sweet and evocative ?Heaven and earth?, the epic, brooding and simply breathtaking instrumental ?Road to Melnibone?, the stompy closer ?Lose my number? which is about some cocaine fuelled party queen and many, many more.
The Production (DDD) is simply perfect, crystal clear, warm, organic, sounds like analogue really but it?s much brighter. Hats off to the chap that twitched the knobs. As for the performances, well, I feel too small, to judge those people, as artists. The whole record felt like a rollercoaster. Exciting, emotional, Anthemic, bluesy, rocky, brassy, sassy? it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you throw your hands in the air, it makes you think?. Well, I ?ll call it ROCK ART and wash my hands clean. I ended up in tears, tears ?of joy, really, cause this record reminded me why I fell in love with this kind of music in the first place. Priceless.