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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Uriah Heep

Living The Dream

Review by Mike Korn

It won’t be too long before Uriah Heep celebrates its 50th year in the music business. That in itself is astounding, but what is even more astounding is that they are doing some of their best and most energetic work at this stage of the game. One listen to Living The Dream proves the vitality they have.

There are elements of prog and metal in the 2018 version of Uriah Heep, but I think the best description of them is melodic hard rock with a uniquely British feel to it. One thing I noticed on this particular disc is that it is very keyboard heavy, with much more of an emphasis on organ than other recent Heep releases. Usually that would indicate a lighter side to the music, but not here. Phil Lanzon’s keys are heavy and robust in the same fashion that Jon Lord’s were for Deep Purple, and there is no lessening of the heavy side of the music due to their presence.

I’d also say Bernie Shaw is as good as (if not better than) any other Heep vocalist over the years, and there have been some great ones. The music world is really missing vocals and singing like this these days. As for Living The Dream, this is a no-brainer for any Heep fan or those into the likes of Deep Purple, Asia or Magnum.

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Track by Track Review
Grazed By Heaven

You’ll hear that heavy Hammond organ right off the bat with this sizzling rocker. This one is fast and intense, with great riffing that harkens back to the glory days of the band and songs like “Easy Livin’” and “Stealin’.” Mick Box gets to crank up one of his lead guitar solos, as well.

Living The Dream
The title track is an absolute highlight here. Every one of the band’s strengths is on display…crunchy guitar hooks, huge waves of Hammond organ and amazing multi-tracked vocal harmonies that will stick in your head. Just try to forget the chorus on this one. What happened to rock music like this? How did we get from this to mumble rap and auto-tuned garbage?
Take Away My Soul
On this cut, there’s more of a hard guitar edge and a lot of crunch. It’s another energetic rocker with a lot of pace to it and more great vocal melodies. Parts of this one sound very expansive and open with a cool Lanzon organ solo that transitions to a real ripping Box lead.
Knocking At My Door
Here’s another favorite and one of the heavier tunes here. The cut has a kind of ominous feel to match the lyrics. This also features an amazing vocal performance from Bernie Shaw and a near perfect balance of organ and guitar. At this point, the album hasn’t slowed down at all. “They’ve been knocking at my door/They keep coming back for more/I don’t know them but still they come/No place for hiding, no place to run.”
Rocks in the Road
The band indulge their proggier side with this longer cut that again brings back memories of their more epic 70s stuff. The first part is classic Heep with that guitar/organ mix, but then the band take some detours. There’s a mellower, mysterious sounding section with keys that I swear could have been done circa 1973.  Bass player Dave Rimmer then gets a chance to show his stuff for a bit during an extended instrumental break. This cut is retro in a good way and builds to a huge, almost cinematic part where the keys take over. Then guitars come screaming in hot and heavy. Finally there’s a brilliant return to the first motif. Whew, what a scorcher this is!
Water’s Flowin’
Things finally cool down with this track, which starts with a bluesy, lazy feel. For the first time, the keys are piano instead of massive Hammond organ. There’s another great multi-vocal chorus with a “nan na na” motif. The song is not really a ballad as there’s still some power, but it’s more of a straight rock song.
It’s All Been Said
The organ is back in a big way on this heavy rocker that has the sound of classic Heep. A word must be said for the hard hitting drum work of Russell Gillbrook who lays in the thunder throughout the album. This tune mixes a balladic verse with a heavy chorus. There’s another great old school organ solo from Lanzon, but I must say this one is my least favorite here.
Goodbye To Innocence
This scorcher is the fastest and most a**-kicking rocker on the disc. The lyrics are right out of the Van Halen “Hot For Teacher” school, in more ways than one. This one is good raunchy fun all the way.
Falling Under Your Spell
Despite being the shortest song here by far, this tune is brimming over with energy and features a superb vocal performance by Shaw. The chorus is simple but catchy, which is a good description of the song itself.
Dreams of Yesteryear
The album ender is heavy and guitar-centric but also features laidback memory and a very wistful feel. The heartfelt lyrics will surely touch a chord with any older person looking back on their younger years. I know it did with me. The end stretch here features a memorable guitar hook that seems both sad and hopeful at the same time.
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