Wesley Britton's Entertainment Scrapbook (entbook) wrote,
Wesley Britton's Entertainment Scrapbook

New Retro-Rock with Dennis Diken




The other day, I was delighted to receive my review copy of Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken’s forthcoming “solo” album, Late Music. While it’s not due for general release until September 29, I saw no reason not to get out an early word on the CD and help start some well-deserved buzz for Late Music. Simply stated: it’s wonderful! 

As all fans of the Smithereens know, the band loves retro-rock, as seen most notably on their two albums covering Beatle material. Diken’s affections for the Sixties are also very apparent on Late Music, an album that evokes the “Endless Summer” sun-drenched harmonies and melodies of the Beach Boys. The 13 tracks, to be issued by Cryptovision, distributed by Select-O-Hits, were created mostly in East Coast home studios, but Diken went west to complete Late Music at the famed Bomb Factory in Los Angeles. One song, “Lost Bird,” was even recorded in part through one of the consoles from EMI’s famed Abbey Road studios. 

 As publicist Cary Baker puts it, “Actually, calling it a solo album is a misnomer. Dennis Diken & the Bell Sound is a collaboration between Diken and fellow Jerseyans Pete DiBella and Dave Amels” along with a number of special guests. Amels (Stepford Husbands, Reigning Sound, Mary Weiss) helmed the sessions, producing and playing a bank of keyboards. According to Dennis, “We called on friends from the Wondermints (between gigs as Brian Wilson’s band) to add vocals and instrumentation.” Their sun-splashed spirit is evident, especially on “Let Your Loved One Sleep.”

Other guests include multi-instrumentalist Andy Paley (co-producer of Brian Wilson’s eponymous debut solo album).  “Andy lived and breathed a good chunk of this record,” Dennis tells us. “He literally dreamed parts for “No One’s Listening” and dashed to the studio one morning after awakening with some magical ideas.” The Honeys, Brian Wilson’s most celebrated outside production, sing backup on “Tell All the Fools.” “It was a thrill to have Marilyn, Ginger and Diane on board. They sound wonderful as ever.”


So you can expect sun, sun, sun from the opening moments of the rockin’ first song to the end, and you’ll hear echoes of many influences from times past. As Baker notes, “. . The album opens with “The Sun’s Gonna Shine in the Morning,” a Who-meets-Paul-Revere-and-the-Raiders-ish song of hope and determination. “Standing in Line,” featuring DiBella on lead vocal, is a heavily Beach Boys influenced number about watching life passing by . . . The Who and The Move inform “Long Lonely Ride” with Andy Paley on guest vocals in a charging rocker about a falsely accused outlaw. On “No One’s Listening,” featuring Paley on guitars, bass and harpsichord, and Dave Amels on Hammond BC, Mini Moog and harpsichord (that’s right, dual harpsichords), an early 70s Beach Boys influence (Surf’s Up, Holland) gives form to this “hymn to the silence” that celebrates the wisdom of nature and the need to heed one’s own heart. “I’ve Been Away,” which features Paley and Jason Falkner, is best described as techno meets The Association. The haunting “Fall Into Your Arms,” which harkens to Dennis Wilson’s best work, promises to be a favorite among listeners.”


The release of Late Music also marks the relaunch of Cryptovision Records. During the mid 1980s, New York-based Cryptovision records rated in the top 25 of independent record companies and launched the recording careers of people like Sam Coomes (Elliot Smith, Quasi, Donner Party). Other notable Cryptovision artists are Flying Color, Optic Nerve, Stepford Husbands, and The Mod Fun. Virtually none of the 1980s Cryptovision records have been released on CD.  Dave Amels, former head of A&R, now company chief, states, “The goal of the new Cryptovision Records is to both reissue selections from the 1980s catalog in digital form and to release really great new music . . .music rooted in the deep American pop and rock ‘n’ roll traditions.”
For more information on Dennis Diken & the Bell Sound , please contact conqueroo:
Cary Baker • (323) 656-1600 •

To hear a December 10, 2008 interview by Wesley Britton with Dennis Diken, check out the “Past Programs” link at:



Expect a new one soon—just in time to give you a sample or two before the end of September . . .


Wesley Britton






Tags: beach boys, dennis diken, the smithereens
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