Dennis Diken with Bell Sound: Late Music

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)

Dennis Diken MySpace page


The Smithereens: B-Sides the Beatles

Dave Medsker wrote the following about the Smithereens’ initial Fab Four cover record (2007’s Meet The Smithereens): “Pat Dinizio has always worn his love for the Beatles on his sleeve (the band did a fab cover of Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy” back in 1991), but no one is going to mistake his singing for that of Paul McCartney or John Lennon, and that is the biggest problem with Meet the Smithereens.” Well, fast forward to 2008 and the newest Smithereens’ Fab Four cover record, B-Sides the Beatles, and nothing has changed, really. The boys do a great job of re-creating the vibe and sound of the early Beatles catalog, but Dinizio’s voice just doesn’t do the songs justice (Dennis Diken sings lead on “Slow Down”). I love Dinizio’s vocals in general, but not for these songs; they just don’t fit. The band gives a little more crunch to songs like “You Can’t Do That” and “Some Other Guy” but the only thing this album does is make you want to listen to the originals, not these covers. The Smithereens couldn’t resist the modest commercial success and critical buzz that the 2007 record achieved and went to the well one more time (off the back of a Christmas record with only three seasonal originals). Here is an idea: how about an original Smithereens record? They haven’t produced a new disc of Smithereens’ material since 1999’s overwhelmingly mediocre God Save the Smithereens. This is the band that produced great records like Green Thoughts and Especially for You. There has to be more in them than just becoming a Beatles tribute act. Competent, yes the album is competent and the art is cool and the liner notes informative, but exciting, or thrilling…not so much. (Koch)

The Smithereens MySpace page


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