Ritchie Newton is an artist of considerable talents, who on his new album "Rock The Heaven"shows them off with considerable style. Ritchie Newton is a resident of Siem Reap - Cambodia, and his feelings for his adopted home shine through on this album.
All artist have influences, Ritchie Newton is no different in that respect. Robert Johnson influenced the likes of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, and they in turn influenced so many artists as diverse as the Beatles, to Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, they of course then influenced a whole generation to pick up a guitar and play and so on.
So I mean it as a compliment when I say that although Ritchie Newton has developed his own style he also wears his influences proudly on his sleeve.
Ritchie Newton was always mainly influenced by Elvis Presley, Bon jovi, Whitesnake and AC/DC. The spirit of the great man is carried through into all of his music although by no means dominating it. In fact, over the course of the eleven songs on this album the influences that surge to the forefront are many fold, from the west coast sound of Steve Miller on opening number " Rock the heaven"to the blue collar rock of say a John Cougar Mellencamp, or Bruce Springsteen on several of the early songs, to the soft balladeers of the early eighties, in contrast the album shines with a storming hard rock number "Glory Harleylujah" which could be straight off a Deep Purple album. There is also a fine tribute to death itself, Goodbye my little boy" and the many ways it has to be dealt with, when somebody who means a lot to you dies, but how also life needs to go on. The words are worth printing to put Ritchie Newton’s feelings across.
All of the music on this album is original compositions, except for an emotional run through of Peter Gabriel's "Don't give up" which Ritchie Newton interprets with a fine spoken / sung version. A great version of Elvis Presley's " Can't help falling in love" and a rock version of the Johnny Nash hit " I can see clearly now".
Perhaps in the middle the songs become a little awash in emotion stretching the listeners taste in music a little too far, but then it does give Ritchie Newton a chance to show the full range of his talents.
Ritchie Newton is no newcomer to the recording studio, this being his fifth album release. The first two being from his native Germany, ‘Bad To The Bone’ (1994) and ‘Süchtig’ (1996), both recorded by a slightly different Ritchie Newton that we know today. On the cover of each album you get a long haired Ritchie dressed in leather and chains glaring out at the world in defiance, and all the songs are of a very hard rock nature.
In 1997 Ritchie Newton came to Thailand and like so many people fell in love with the country and its beautiful people, almost immediately deciding to live here. It was obvious that a living was not going to be made as a long haired rocker, so a complete change of image was required and a living as an Elvis Presley tribute artist was eked out. At first Ritchie did not exactly earn a fortune, but valuable experience was earned the hard way, and the word soon spread about the young man with the amazing voice. In 1999 Ritchie met Thailand’s number one Elvis impersonator Jaruk Viriyakit who unselfishly invited the young man to join him on stage on one of his shows, which was later shown on national TV. This was just the helping hand up the ladder that Ritchie Newton needed.
Soon, Elvis Ritchie Newton was not only performing all over Thailand, but Asia and Europe as well. During this time Ritchie was blessed with having his first son, Rino and in 2006 his daughter Tammy, which perhaps helped to quieten down the wild rebel in him.
But it is now with the release of "Rock The Heaven"(2015) that Ritchie has really come into his own. The songs are very strong with perhaps "Saxanna; When Children Cry; Goodbye my little boy and Wind of hearts" being the centrepiece and standout tracks on the album, but throughout Ritchie’s exuberant character bursts through.
Ritchie's Son Rino died in may 2015, and Rock The Heaven is dedicated to him
Ritchie Newton is by no means a selfish man, and although there is no doubt that this is Ritchie’s album, there is still plenty of space for Ritchie’s fellow musicians to shine. The Piano & keyboard work of Revan Rey is an invaluable addition to the Newton sound, Putra Muda Silalahi lays down a solid rhythm section behind the drum kit, with Wawan Chong Lee shines with a great bass work .
To top this off is some sterling lead guitar work by Iwan May who really rips up the six strings when the opportunity arises. This lot must be amazing in concert.
The album was produced by Ritchie Newton himself at the "La Voice Studio" and the "Wanna Be Studio", Jakarta - Indonesia. To produce an album of this fine quality they must be very fine studios indeed.
Ritchie Newton obviously has a great love for Thailand and Suratthani in particular. I leave you with the words of dedication on the cover of the album:
" Every time the sun is shining
I know it is your smile
every time it is raining
I know you miss me and you cry"
Goodbye my little boy