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Ken Hensley

Past And Present (Songs In Time) 1970-2021

Review by Gary Hill

This set is sort of a career-spanning release focused on Ken Hensley. The man was first known for his work with Uriah Heep, but he created quite a catalog of music over the years beyond those origins. There is a wide range of sounds here. Personally, I think the more Heep like songs are the best, and the things from his Christian period are the weakest. Your mileage may vary, though. That's the beautiful thing, you get so much here to choose from. There are even a handful of Uriah Heep songs in the set. It all comes in a cardboard clamshell box with a nice booklet. Each CD comes in its own cardboard sleeve. It should be noted that I previously reviewed a few of these songs on other albums. For the sake of consistency, those track reviews were used here or modified for use in this review.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 5 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
CD1: SOLO (1972-1981)
When Evening Comes

A classy blues rocking groove is on the menu here. The vocal performance is the biggest selling point on this track, but it works well on just about every other level, too. The closing instrumental section is particularly strong.

Black Hearted Lady
More in a 1970s mainstream mellower rock zone, this has some balladic stylings at its heart.
From Time To Time
This melodic rocker feels very much like something Hensley's previous band might have done. It has a great groove to it and some cool keyboard layers. It's the best track to this point of the set.
A piano and vocal approach gets us going here. This builds into a mellower melodic rocker that again has some hints of Uriah Heep.
There are some country angles to this in some ways. The song works well, but it's not what I would consider a standout here. The pedal steel guitar, which brings that country edge, really gets to show off on the instrumental movement later. That section is extensive and works pretty well.
Take & Take
This is fairly slow, but it's also dynamic with mellower and more powered up movements. It's another that has some definite echoes of Uriah Heep. It's also one of the cooler tracks here with plenty of magic built into it.
The House On The Hill
Here we get a much mellower piece. This is cool, but a bit like the mellow barely rock stuff from acts like The Carpenters. I wouldn't consider this a highlight.
A mid-tempo rocker, this is another that really does feel like Heep. I dig the keyboard approach on it, and the whole tune works pretty well.
Inside The Mystery
There is some killer guitar work on this. It also has a hint of funk. It reminds me a bit of something Bob Welsh might have done. In fact, it sounds a little like that era of Fleetwood Mac to me. It also has a David Bowie-like glam rock section.
New York
This hard rocker has a bit of that Bob Welsh thing going on, too. I like this quite a bit.
Brown Eyed Boy
Coming in a little mysterious. It has that same sort of Welsh era Fleetwood Mac vibe in some ways. It's energized and classy. It's definitely a hard rocker, and it has so much magic. The guitar soloing on the extended instrumental section is so expressive.
Coming in with a slower, bluesy groove. this is solid and strong. I wouldn't really consider it a standout, though.
The first of xix songs by Uriah Heep, this is a slow moving number that has a lot of magic built into it. It's not quite a ballad, but it's also not a rocker.
Echoes In The Dark
This Heep song is more complex and leans toward progressive rock. After the powered up introduction, it drops to a keyboard and vocal movement to continue. It gets ,more intense as it continues. This is packed full of emotion and style.
This Uriah Heep classic is so strong. It has a great balance between mellower sections and more rocking ones. It's packed full of style and charm.
A lesser known Heep tune, this is no less vital or strong. I love the vocal mix on this song, and the track has a great rock arrangement to it. It's an extensive number, coming in at epic scale length. It has a number of different sections. It even includes a short, classical style piano solo. This one definitely leans on the prog side of things.
Poet’s Justice
Here we get a killer Uriah Heep rocker. I really love some of the guitar and keyboard interplay on this thing. It's a smoking hot tune.
Rainbow Demon
Another Heep classic, this melodic rocker works so well here.
It’s Up To You

Mellow, but rich layers of keyboards create an intriguing electronic concept on the extended introduction here. The track works out from there to more of a mainstream rocking vibe with a lot of charm built into it. It drops to more of a southern tinged somewhat stripped motif for the vocals. This is quite a dynamic and potent ride. It features some killer guitar work, too.

Moving In
Coming in hard rocking, this drops back a little for the vocals. This has plenty of Uriah Heep sound. It's packed full of bombast and has some solid hooks.
One Tender Moment
I wouldn't quite call this a ballad, but perhaps power ballad applies. This is a little too lightweight for my tastes. It has "1980s single" written all over it.
Guard Your Heart
Now, this is actually a ballad. It's pretty and has some intricate guitar work. The keyboards lend some magical icing on the cake.
Shakey Ground
A bluesy rocker, this has some soulful angles to it. It's a strong tune.
Think Twice
A keyboard and vocal ballad at the start, this doesn't work all the well for me. It gets powered up with some metallic guitar, but still just fails to gel for me.
Get A Line
A bluesy rocker, this has some slide guitar in it and some definite country music angles. This is another that misses the mark for me.
Believe In Me
Piano and vocals get this ballad going. The lyrics are too preachy for my tastes, which is becoming a bit of a theme for this part of the set. Your mileage may vary. The track gets more powered up as it continues, but there aren't any big surprises here.
Win Or Lose
I really dig the blues rocking riffs on this track. This has a great groove and really works so well.
The Cost Of Loving
Another mellow song, this has more of an adult contemporary 80s vibe to it.
The Return
I really love the mellower modes and power behind the music on this track. This balladic piece does have a lot of charm and magic in the mix.
The Joy Of Knowing Jesus
There is a lot of country music in the mix. As you might guess, I'm not a fan of the lyrics. Overall, I think this number is okay, but it's not really my thing. It includes a multilayered vocal section that feels almost like church hymnals. After the song proper ends, we get some layers of synthesizer in a mellow motif. It feels very much like new age music and elevates the track for me.
Overture – La Tristeza Secreta De Un Corazon Gitano

I love the beautiful keyboard textures on this. It is classical and dramatic. I really love this instrumental.

Prelude – A Minor Life
This is a bombastic rocker that really feels a lot like Uriah Heep music. This is fierce and classy.
Out Of My Control
Hard rocking, evocative and powerful, this is such a strong song. It has some scorching hot guitar soloing that leans toward heavy metal. It really rocks.
You’ve Got It – The American Dream
This is another hard rocking tune that has some intriguing things on display. It's even more metallic than the previous tune. I don't think it works quite as well, though.
Final Solution
Even more metallic, this rocker is classy. It reminds me quite a bit of Deep Purple, too. It has some good hooks, too.
It’s Up To You
More of a pop rock style is on the menu here. This has some solid rocking vibes, but doesn't seem as meaty as the previous few songs.
Finney’s Tale
A bouncy pop rocker, this isn't as meaty as some of the other music on this particular CD, but it's a lot of fun.
I Close My Eyes
Intricate acoustic guitar is on the menu as this starts. Vocals come in over the top, creating a balladic motif. This is just an evocative, mellow piece. The strings do get a little over the top at times.
Little Piece Of Me – Julia’s Song
Not quite a ballad, this is a mainstream rock tune. It's got its charms for certain. It's not what I'd call a highlight of the set, though.
Free Spirit
This rocker feels like something that would definitely work under the Uriah Heep banner. It has a good hard-edged vibe along with classic hooks and style.
Movin’ In
A more metallic rocker, this has some real meat on its bones. Yet, it's still accessible. It's a great tune.
Let Me Be Me
There is a definite metal edge to this. In some ways this feels a little generic, but the meatier parts work really well.
I Don’t Wanna Wait
This is packed full of classic style and charm. It has some intriguing acoustic guitar work and great keyboards. The whole tune is catchy and yet meaty at the same time. This is a melodic rocker, but not quite what I'd call soft rock.
Tell Me
Metallic sounds and hard rock merge on this number. It has equal parts Elvis Presley, Cheap Trick and AC/DC built into it. It's a fun rocker.

There is a real Southern rock vibe to the riff-laden introduction on this. Slide guitar adds to that effect as this continues.

Letting Go
While this loses the Southern angle, it's still a pretty straight-ahead rocker. It's also largely successful. The chorus hook does get a little tedious at times, though.
Give Me A Reason
Much more along the lines of generic rock with some country angles to it, this one doesn't work that well for me. It makes me think of bands like 38 Special, but it's perhaps a bit less polished than that suggests.
Second Chance (A New Beginning)

The introduction on this has an almost metal edge to it. The song drops to an extremely mellow blue-eyed soul ballad approach for the entrance of the vocals. As it builds up from there it gets some hints of jazz built into it, but there are also more metal leanings at times. I think I'd call this a power ballad.

I Know Who You Are
Another that feels a little generic, this isn't a bad tune, but it isn't all that special, either. It's just a pretty middle-of-the-road rocker.
The Voice Of Love
While this also plays it a little too safe, it does have some charms and magic. I dig the almost metal vibe to it, and there are some edgy aspects. It also has some drama in the mix at times.
Give ’Em What They Want
A hard rocking tune, this is rather generic, but it works pretty well. It has some good hooks and enough meat on the bones to stand up well.
Who Knows
More of a pure ballad, this is pleasant enough, but nothing really elevates it above average. It also seems to go on a little long.
An energetic rocker, this is a fun tune. It's nothing Earth-shattering in terms of originality, but it works well.
Did You Know
More of a balladic cut, this one probably appeals to those of the Christian faith more than it does the rest of us.
The Last Dance (El Gitano Viejo)
Intricate acoustic guitar gets us going here. This is sort of a power ballad for the bulk of its run. It's evocative and powerful. Again, the lyrics fall flat for me, but the arrangement really makes that irrelevant. This even gets a little proggy at times and turns fairly rocking late.
Send Me An Angel

This track somewhat fits in the power ballad zone. It has a mellower, almost jazzy first part, but it powers up to more rocking zones further down the road. It alternates those two sides of the coin along the road. This is an evocative and powerful piece of music that's particularly effective.

Inside The Mystery
I dig the rocking groove on this track, too. It also has a balance between harder edged sounds and mellower ones. There are some crunchy edges at times, and this is another powerhouse piece.
A classy tune, this feels like an arena rocker with some intriguing electronic angles. It is another real winner on the set.
Longer Shadows
This is another standout. It's creative and rather proggy. It has a great mix of guitar led and keyboard dominated stuff. It has a little bit of that Uriah Heep sound, but with a more modern twist.
A mellower piece, this has some definite art rock elements. It's also got Americana and more in it. It's an unusual piece that's creative and leans toward psychedelic at times.
Brown Eyed Boy
More of a straight-ahead rocker, this works well. It's nothing ground-breaking, but just an a catchy and effective song.
Cold Autumn Sunday
On the power-ballad end of the spectrum, this is another piece that has echoes of Uriah Heep. It's also got a cool guitar solo. It's another that works particularly well.
A keyboard based ballad approach is on classic display as this gets going. There are some strings in the mix at times, and this rocks out more later. Perhaps "power ballad" is the right label for this one, too. I love the intricate acoustic guitar solo.  The number has a lot of drama and style.
This piece is so powerful. It definitely has some prog rock leanings and it really rocks out at points. It's a dynamic and intriguing song.
The House On The Hill
The guitar part that gets this going makes me think of the band America. The song is a melodic number that's effective.
When Evening Comes
Here is a track that really has a lot of that Uriah Heep thing at play. It's powerful and a real standout number. It's sort of a slow bluesy rocker, but it's packed full of magic amidst those origins.
Go Down

There are hints of root music in the mix here. This is more of a mainstream melodic rocker. It's not at the same level as the other songs we've heard on this particular CD. That said, it's not bad. It just feels like a step down.

Through The Eyes Of A Child (Original Demo +)

The sound quality makes it clear this is a demo, at least on the first part. That first section is just piano and vocals. When the arrangement fills out, the recording feels more professional. This is a potent number, audio issues or not.

Do You Feel Alright
There is a real techno, electronica vibe to this number. It feels like a dance mix, really. I'm not a big fan of this, but is has its charms and is a bonus track, so the bar is only so high. This does overstay its welcome, though.

Appropriately, the sounds of a racing car gets this underway. The cut has a real arena rock vibe to it. It's energized and not that far from metal. The organ brings some of that Uriah Heep element. This has some classic rock and roll in the mix, too.

Somewhere (In Paradise)
A rocking introduction gives way to a balladic approach for the entrance of the vocals. The chorus hook is classic, and the track gets a bit more energized at times.
Look At Yourself
A Heep classic tune gets a great live rendition. This is so powerful and well done. I really love this version. It sounds like Uriah Heep.
Another Uriah Heep classic, they turn this into an extended jam. There is an extensive organ-based introduction to the piece. The introduction really holds it for a long time, but it eventually gives way to a more classic Heep like sound for the song proper. Again, it's a smoking hot live performance.
The Curse
This hard rocker has a real Uriah Heep vibe to it. It's a classy and strong tune. The instrumental section later in the song is a real powerhouse with great guitar and keyboard interplay. It does have some non-lyrical vocalizations that call to mind Uriah Heep. They take it to an almost prog-meets-James-Bond movement near the end.
I Cry Alone
A dramatic melodic rocker with balladic sections, this is another that calls to mind the mighty Heep. This doesn't have any surprises, but it's a strong entry in the set nonetheless.
July Morning
Here we get another powerhouse Heep classic. I love the guitar work as it leads out of the gates. It drops to just the potent keyboard elements to continue. This is another tune that makes great use of the balance of soft and hard rocking sections. To me that was always one of the best parts of Uriah Heep. I remember Chris Squire saying that he felt it was one of things that made Yes great, and I think Uriah Heep were another band that was particularly good at that. This song is a great example of it. This performance again really sounds like it could be a Heep recording. I love the sort of neo-classical break in this thing.
Circle Of Hands
Another classic Uriah Heep tune, this starts with the organ and powers out into a killer rocker that makes good use of the contrast between louder and mellower modes. This version has so much of that classic sound built into it.
Blood On The Highway
This title track from Hensley's solo career has a lot of that Heep sound built into it, too. They put in a great live telling of the tune here. It has some really strong musical passages and a powerful vocal performance.
Right Here, Right Now
Keyboards start this, and we're brought into a driving, AOR prog zone as the cut works out from there. It drops to a more stripped back arrangement for the entrance of the vocals. This is a hook-laden, hard rocking tune that has a lot of prog in the mix. I'm reminded quite a bit of Blue Öyster Cult on this song.
The Cold Sacrifice
This is another that makes me think of BÖC, but also Deep Purple. The cut has a lot of energy, meaty hard rocking textures and some catchy things. It's also got enough proggy textures to land it in the AOR prog pool. There are some metallic moments, too.
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