RIYL: The Beach Boys, The Who, The Smithereens
Here’s reason why one shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss drummers who opt for solo stardom. Okay, so maybe Keith Moon and Ringo Starr didn’t exactly set a high bar when it came to moving from the drum stool to center stage, but given the right instincts and a simpatico backing crew, a drummer can transform a big beat into a superior set-up. Take Dennis Diken, for example. Long known for laying down the rhythms with the Smithereens, he’s obviously absorbed the pop precepts formulated in his day job and turned out a surprisingly accomplished album packed with retro rock finesse. Like his band mates, Diken is greatly indebted to the rock and pop of the mid to late ‘60s, with special nods to the Who and the Beach Boys in particular. Considering the fact that the Smithereens recently retread Tommy, and covered a smattering of Who staples early on, Dikens’ “The Sun’s Gonna Shine in the Morning” and “Long Lonely Ride” make any comparisons with the aforementioned foursome seem quite intentional. The Brian Wilson references are equally informed, with “Standing in That Line” and “Fall into Your Arms” boasting billowy harmonies and the pensive tone that marked “Surfs Up” and “Til I Die.” Likewise, “Let Your Loved One Sleep” carries the sound of a song that’s been around forever.
Diken’s chief foil here is Pete DiBella, whose multi-instrumental abilities help anchor the duo’s easily accessible melodies. In addition, several power pop veterans lend their expertise and add to the ambiance – Andrew Sandoval, Andy Paley, Brian Wilson sideman Probyn Gregory and the Honeys, the vocal trio that includes the chief Beach Boys’ own onetime honey, Marilyn Wilson-Rutherford. How appropriate that with its embrace of nostalgia, Late Music becomes nothing less than a timeless treasure. (Cryptovision 2009)