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The Music

birth, love, hate, death

by UniversalDice

Released 03/31/2017
Infidels Records
Released 03/31/2017
Infidels Records
This is a true labor of love – a rock opera/love story that is not idealized or glamorized but is instead full of self-doubt, mistakes, missed opportunities, regret and sacrifice. We hope you give it a listen. Thanks!
NOTES

The songs of the latest CD, "birth, love, hate, death", written and produced by Gerry Dantone, are always relevant and usually intensely emotion and often unique in the rock music arena. BLHD is focused on love in real life terms, imperfections and all. This is a nuanced album and the lyrics are NOT what you would expect if you really think about them. At the same time their memorable melodies recall the qualities admired in the Who, the Beatles, Green Day and the Killers even though their songs never sound like any of these classic band's tunes in particular.

Additionally, this is truly an album by UniversalDice. Besides performing the songs, it was recorded, mixed and mastered by the band. Even the band's web site, cover art and just about anything else you might think of were handled/created by band members.

Songwriter, singer and political and philosophical writer/activist Gerry Dantone has a writing style that is first and foremost humanistic, but also coherent, provocative and multi-layered. In addition, the band's primary themes are as big as they get; life and death and meaning and purpose. No other band is as prepared to tackle these subjects as UniversalDice.

Bandmates Bob Barcus on lead guitar and Eddie Canova on bass are among Long Island's finest session players and are given a chance to stretch. Newest members are longtime Long Island musical giants Walt Sargent and Vincent Crici who add their keyboard support to the band's latest tunes.

Out of Many,One

by UniversalDice

Released 2005
Infidels Records
Released 2005
Infidels Records
A unique blend of modern and classic rock styles that perfectly support the most challenging lyrical ideas in popular music. This is rock and roll for freethinkers. This is NOT what you expected.
NOTES


Artist: UniversalDice.com
The album: "Out of Many, One"

UniversalDice.com is a most unique band; just beneath their accessible modern rock sound lies perhaps the most ambitious and rich lyrically subversive yet uplifting content in popular music today. Although most of their songs are radio ready while musically challenging and engaging, the ideas that drive the songs break all the rules and continually surprise the listener. There are few bands that not only make you think, but force you to re-think what was once taken for granted.

This 2005 album, "Out Of Many, One," continues the growth of this band. "Still Alive in the USA" attempts to rescue patriotism from the domain of scoundrels, "FGM," "To the Fundamentalists," and "I Am the Woman Who Has Awoken," spearhead a call for reason and compassion for oppressed people everywhere including women in particular, while the I-Am-the-Walrus-like "Master of Low Expectations" exploits the verbal ramblings of someone we knew all too well! And of course, you will not find songs like "God Wants Me to Hate You," anywhere else!

The end result is a band with a unique, yet never repetitive sound. "One Good Thing," and "Peace Love" will move you in ways you thought were long gone from a rock band. How many modern rock bands can make you both feel and think?

Songwriter, singer and author/activist, Gerry Dantone, has perfected a writing style that is first and foremost humanistic, but also coherent, provocative, and multi-layered. Further the band's primary themes are as big as they get; life and death, and meaning and purpose. No other band is as prepared to tackle these subjects as UniversalDice.com. Bandmates Bob Barcus on lead guitar and Tom Beckner on keyboards are among Long Island's finest session players and are given a chance to stretch on such musical gems in songs such as "God Shaped Hole," "Last Prayer," and "My Name Is Thomas..." from their first CD, "My Name Is Thomas..." . Newest member is longtime area studio whiz Ed Canova who adds his fretless bass support to a number of the bands latest tunes.

Although no single song completely represents this band, a style still emerges, one based on creative songwriting, strong vocals, accomplished musicianship and clever arrangements. We hope you enjoy the new music.
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CD Review - Island Songwriter's Showcase Newsletter Feb. 2005 http://www.islandsongwriters.org/newsletters/2005-02.pdf

UNIVERSAL DICE TACKLES BIG THEMES

By Pedro Pereira
Long Island band Universal Dice's third release is a musically and lyrically ambitious collection of songs, titled "Out of Many, One," that will have you tapping your foot while pondering some of the most controversial issues of our times.

Universal Dice is the band led by ISS Newsletter founder Gerry Dantone, who writes most of the tunes, sings and plays guitar. His musical co-conspirators are keyboardist Tom Beckner, guitarist Bob Barkus, songwriter/bassist Sam Camino and bass player Ed Canova.

From corporate layoffs to the child-molestation scandal in the Catholic Church to the plight of Afghan women under a repressive regime, Universal Dice tackles some difficult themes without ever succumbing to preachy-ness. And while condemnation and indignation occasionally accentuate the message, for the most part the band succeeds in taking a sympathetic approach to the issue at hand.

Such is the case with "I am the Woman Who Has Awoken," a song inspired by a poem written by Afghan female activist Meena, who was assassinated in 1987 for speaking out against fundamentalists and the Soviet-controlled puppet regime then ruling the country.

Pop "Out of Many, One" in your player, and you'll quickly be singing along to the infectious chorus of "God Wants Me to Hate You," an uptempo number delivered with an intensity reminiscent of Elvis Costello's early music. The song offers an ironic take on the oft-repeated Bible-based justifications for homophobia. Or you might catch yourself swaying along the reggae rhythm of "Welcome to 1984," a track that deals with censorship.

Homophobia, censorship and gender repression in distant regimes may seem like a tall order to cover in one CD. But Universal Dice doesn't stop there. The band offers a rapid-fire litany of anti-right-wing themes that would make John Ashcroft weep.

For starters, "Out of Many, One" kicks off with "Master of Low Expectations," an ingenious satire on our current commander in chief that uses nothing but his own bumbling words to deliver its indictment. Gerry picked up such priceless presidential nuggets as "War is a dangerous place" and "I stand by all the misstatements that I've made" to write the song. And they are uncomfortably amusing.

But lest anyone walk away with the impression that "Out of Many, One," merely condemns, it's important to note that there is an undercurrent of hope that lifts the message into a positive plain. This is particularly the case with the songs "Still Alive in the USA," a percussion-heavy uptempo anthem and "Peace, Love," a Lennonesque ballad that asks, "Peace, love, is that all there is?" and goes on to conclude in a very understated way: "Peace, love, it comes down to this."

The band approaches each song with a visible sense of economy and lyrical sensibility. The music is as informed by the Beatles as by Costello and other late '70s/early '80s acts. "Out of Many, One" is mature rock for mature listeners who don't mind having to think when hearing music.

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Jim Santos'
Demo Universe

UniversalDice wears its politics on its bright blue sleeve, as immediately telegraphed by the lead-off track, "Master Of Low Expectations," which mocks Bushspeak ("Rarely is the question asked/Is our children learning?") in a pulsing mix of guitars and sitars. Another brand of asshole gets its douche in "To The Fundamentalists," an exercise in dignified defiance that impressively eschews jingoistic posturing in favor of a quiet surety in right beliefs: "If you fill the air with your pious curses/You will not begin to wipe away your fears." The satire in "God Wants Me to Hate You" is impossible to miss, but "FGM (Take The Knife Away)," a rumination on female genital mutilation, is hardly more subtle. By the time UniversalDice swings into the clerical molestation ditty "One Good Thing," it's become fairly obvious that Gerry Dantone & co. won't settle for the easy expressions of angst that constitute most modern rock writing. Bruce Cockburn fans (I know you're out there), take note.

mostly True Stories

by UniversalDice.com

Released 2000
Infidels Records
Released 2000
Infidels Records
Compelling stories that are either true or true-to-life make this CD an emotional roller coaster unlike any other in rock and roll.
NOTES


This Gerry Dantone & UniversalDice.com CD was released in 2001! "mostly True Stories" is mostly great!

Infidels Records is pleased to present this thematic CD from Gerry Dantone & UniversalDice.com! "mostly True Stories" is a compelling follow-up to the band's rock opera "My Name Is Thomas...", with 16 new tunes from Gerry Dantone and Sam Cimino that are engrossing and enlightening in the unique UniversalDice.com way.

Singer/songwriter Gerry Dantone creates songs in a style that is unique in popular music. Tunes such as "Man & God," "Where They Kill Love," "Vengeance" and "Love Is" are the rarest of the rare - completely original ideas and in these difficult times, nearly prophetic. Bassist Sam Cimino takes an iconoclastic approach as well, adding his trademark black humor, his melodic bass lines, and wicked slide guitar. Between them you will find lyrical and musical references to Shakespeare, the bible, Robert Burns, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Godfather, and more!

Critics are sold on the band: Good Times Magazine called "mostly True Stories" "one of the top CDs of the year" LIE magazine said that, "the follow-up to their critically acclaimed 'My Name Is Thomas...' is about exactly what you'd expect from them... carefully arranged, thoughtfully assembled... a musically catchy and lyrically astute journey."

Past Dantone/UniversalDice.com releases have consistently charted in the Top 40 of any college radio station that had their release. "My Name Is Thomas..." charted on all 14 Long Island stations, in addition to receiving airplay on 4 commercial radio stations as well, reaching Top 10 on 4 of the stations, all without the support of professional record promotion. The public is hungry for music with depth!

The band is rounded out by Bob Barcus on lead guitar (check out his solo on "Vengeance") and Tom Beckner on keyboards (check out the many textures of "BQE"). Although no single song completely represents this band, a style still emerges, one based on creative songwriting, strong vocals, accomplished musicianship and clever arrangements. We hope you enjoy the new CD.
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REVIEW
Good Times Magazine
November 13, 2000
Richard Hughes

Most music fans have probably never heard of Universal Dice. They have not yet played out at clubs, and they don't have dozens of press clippings to their credit from the local music papers. It will probably come as a surprise to people, then, that this, "Mostly True Stories," is one of the top CDs of the year 2000.

Universal Dice is fundamentally the child of the creative duo of Gerry Dantone and Sam Cimino. They wrote the music, they sing the vocals and they play most of the instruments. "mostly True Stories" is their follow-up to "My Name Is Thomas…," an ambitious rock opera released in 1997. The musical style can't be described in a word or two, primarily because there isn't just one style. Instead you've got your blues, you've got your alternative, you've got your straight-up rock, and you've even got your Middle Eastern meditative music. This might sound like a mish-mosh of styles, but actually the CD has a nice balance to it.

The soul of the CD can be found in the 4th track, a slow heart-wrenching number called "Vengeance." A song about the terrorist acts of zealots, and the emotional devastation left in their wake, it focuses on two separate but equally shocking acts of violence. The first is the murder of three young brothers killed by a firebomb in Northern Ireland; the second is the massacre of 30+ Muslims praying in a mosque in Israel. The song is all the more painful because both incidents really happened. ("Three young brothers, asleep in the night/Innocent children in Ulster's fight/In their garden/A man with a bomb/In their garden") This is definitely one intense song.

Other highlights of the CD include the trippy opening number, "Love Is"; the tragic love song "Bosko and Admira," ("He prayed to Jesus, she prayed to Allah/They loved each other, it was forever"); the lusty BQE ("She's not the kind of girl you take home to mom/Try to hold her hand, you might lose you arm"); and the lovely sad "Man and God." There are also some humorous numbers on the CD including Xena, an ode to TV's warrior princess, the rocky "Circling the Drain" and the armed-and-dangerous "Charlton Heston High School," ("Where guns and Jesus rule.")

Musically this is a very strong CD. The one thing that might detract some listeners from fully enjoying it is the preachiness of the lyrics. Like "My Name Is Thomas…" the CD explores issues of faith and religion. But whereas "Thomas…" told a single tale in story-form, "mostly True Stories" goes back to these themes again and again in individual vignettes. The effect can feel like being bludgeoned over and over again with a single message: religion = bad. In a weird kind of a way, although "Thomas…" sprang from the same Ethical Humanist belief system, it worked better from a lyrical point of view, because it focused on things Dantone and Cimino believe in (qualities such as love and respect for others) instead of their opposites (fanaticism, and terrible acts in the name of God).

Nevertheless, the richness of the music far outweighs any minor complaint about the words. This is a CD worth buying, and worth listening to again and again.

My Name is Thomas...

by UniversalDice.com

Released 1998
Infidels Records
Released 1998
Infidels Records
One of popular music's most fully realized rock operas. Dealing with life, death, meaning and purpose, it pulls off this ambitious agenda with insight and biting wit.
NOTES


The band is UniversalDice.com
The CD is "My Name Is Thomas..." Released in 1998 by Infidels Records.

Faith, doubt and Rock 'n' Roll. UniversalDice.com has bitten off a big piece, and they go for it. Have you ever heard anything like this before?

Listen:

"If you want to get to heaven, you got to kiss the Magic Butt"

"If you're immune to actin' human, go on and kill yourself"

"I envy the dead, they don't have to get up in the morning"

"There's a God shaped hole in my heart"

"There was no Holy Ghost, when I looked deep inside"

"I'd like to give you my thanks for the prayer, but I'd sooner choke on my last breath"

"This is my last prayer, off my knees at last"

It begins "My Name is Thomas, and I want so much..." and ends with "Love is the Only Priest." Along the way the most original exploration of faith and its loss in rock and roll is a surprisingly passionate, cerebral, biting and emotional journey.

UniversalDice.com is a band from Long Island that knows what it wants to say. With the release of their debut CD, "My Name Is Thomas...", in January/February 1998, UniversalDice.com becomes a pioneering band, taking on a subject matter that is rarely explored or approached in as brilliant, thoughtful, confident and provocative manner as this. The four band mates have been perfecting their style and point of view for the last few years, and the release of this thematic 71 minute, 18 song epic will not disappoint. Songwriters and lead vocalists Gerry Dantone and Sam Cimino are both unique and original rock and roll voices and refuse to be contained in any neat musical category. Lead guitarist Bob Barcus and keyboardist Tom Beckner complete the quartet, complimenting the percussion and guitar abilities of Gerry and the bass playing and all around musical genius of Sam. Rock used to challenge the listener with new ideas, not just shock. Can you handle this?

Visit the website www.UniversalDice.com

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REVIEW
LONG ISLAND ENTERTAINMENT
March 1998
Michael Delwey

A lot of people have been wondering where the next great rock opera is going to come from. In the beginning, there was Hair and Godspell and Tommy and Quadrophenia. Then there was Rocky Horror and The Lamb Lie Down On Broadway. Of course, the latest rage is Rent, but I don't think that counts since it's really a reworking of La Boheme. Here's a surprise for you, the next great rock opera might have emerged from, get this, Albertson, and is named "My Name Is Thomas…."

Universal Dice may be a new name to you though looking at the player's credits will expose some very familiar names, beginning with Island Songwriters big wig Gerry Dantone, right through other noted performers like Sam Cimino, Bob Barcus and Tom Beckner. What these fine musicians have put together as a team, is a 71 minute, 18 track opus that surrounds the life odyssey of a man named Thomas, whose brother was cast out by his family because of a premarital pregnancy and, through a tragic accident, never got the opportunity to reconcile.

The journey of the work centers on the loss of faith by a man of the cloth, and though religion is the central thread, the work never bogs down because of preachiness. This also is not a snappy "Bye Bye Birdie" affair; this has an edge with rock guitars, gritty melodies and lengthier songs. Phenomenally stimulating, the extensive lyric sheets not only keep you in tune with the story step by step, it helps you visualize a show in your head. What is really impressive, beyond all else, is that like all great rock operas, the songs stand by themselves and would still sound great played one at a time on the radio.

Universal Dice has only one minor problem… you have to wonder what they'll do for an encore. For the time being, run, don't walk, to get your copy of this intense, intelligent and introspective musical. Right out of Albertson hath come what may be the next great rock opera.
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REVIEW
ISLAND SONGWRITERS SHOWCASE NEWSLETTER
November 1997
James Yarsky

Gerry Dantone will be releasing an ambitious CD, "My Name Is Thomas…" within the next few months. It's a rock opera who's lead character (for reasons of absolute necessity) is named Thomas and it tackles important issues (like religion, self reliance, spirituality) and thinking will be a major player in how much you enjoy the music.

I'm just one in many ISS writers who ask the listener to think and believe me it's a risky proposition. Most people want to be entertained, me included. But writers who ask their audience to think go a bit further. Gerry will kill me for paraphrasing her to talk about his music but the temptation's too great - Sister Wendy says there are two kinds of great art: Spiritual and Sacred. Spiritual art gives you immediate satisfaction where sacred art takes time to appreciate. The songs I've heard from Gerry's opera are both spiritual and sacred. They can be enjoyed on a pure pop level but what lies under the pop grooves are lyrics to consider and meditate over. I got a feeling I'll be one of his first customers.

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