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Uriah Heep - Look At Yourself CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

4.12 | 654 ratings

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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 48, Look At Yourself, Uriah Heep, 1971

StarStarStarStar (objectively +Star)

The development from the potent Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble to this album is obvious, but nonetheless astonishing. It is one of my most-listened albums, as it has no obvious points where it's unpleasant to listen to. Most of the issues from the debut are fixed, and replaced by a masterful use of David Byron's exceptional voice. Even the harmonies are very much in place. The band has clearly taken a more oddball and artistic (or even, you could say, progressive) direction, with the inclusion of excellent drumming from members of Osibisa on one track, as well as Manfred Mann's moog on a couple of others. Still, despite these eclectic touches, it is definitely a rock album, and a damn fine rock album at that. For anyone who's looking for sophisticated, well-played hard rock with a hammond organ or a really strong vocalist, this is essential listening.

Look At Yourself kicks off the album with a stunning rocker, combining an insistent and deliberate rhythm section with a powerful lead Hammond organ. David Byron's vocals are sublime and lively, and the harmonies do seem to be directed and timed properly. Mick Box's guitarwork is very well-incorporated, jumping into focus with verve and speed. On the concluding section, dominated by the rhythm part, additional percussionists provide an interesting addition to the Hammond's inexorable drive to a conclusion. Seriously wow music.

I Wanna Be Free follows this quite strongly, with a lead harmony, tapping percussion and careful organ leading to a hard-rocking guitar riff. Mick Box takes an interesting solo (maybe a duo). The song does take off amazing with Byron's wailing 'I wanna be free', Paul Newton's blipping bass (I can't find a better way to describe it) and the guitar breaking out in full force. Overall, a very nice song.

July Morning is an example of the band moving between softer and harder sections, and fully exhibits David Byron's status as a rock vocalist. He handles the softer bands with emotion, and the harder parts with determination. His handling of the non-lyrical sections, twisting off on various 'la's into a completely different style is completely impressive. The harmonies and romantic vocals fit in perfectly. The music is equally amazing, with Ken Hensley's organ moving between soft and potent without pause or issue. His backing piano is subtly and well handled. The acoustic guitars and heavy guitars are switched without an inch of awkwardness. Newton's bass provides a connection between all the various elements, and Ian Clarke on drums manages a number of different moods unflinchingly, whether martial or mollified. Last, but certainly not least, Manfred Mann provides a moog solo par excellence, spinning, slipping, sliding, whirling with a whinnying sound. Astounding, and a nice break from the weight of the first two.

Tears In My Eyes is initially a bit of a listening effort relaxation, being heavily riff based, heavy and with a repeated chorus, as well as rather more generic lyrics. It does, however, include an excellent instrumental break, with acoustics dropped in, a sort of throbbing force underneath the soft harmony and the slightly more punchy acoustic bursts are neatly handled, a guitar duo is neatly handled, and the moog makes another appearance. David Byron's vocals are, as always, to die for. Essentially, a great, fun rock song.

Shadows Of Grief is probably the heaviest and darkest section of the album with a swelling organ complimented by Ian Clarke's percussion moving onto a killer organ riff, which is taken up by the guitar and extended bass notes. David Byron provides a frantic vocal. Ascending rock guitar and whirly Hensley organ bursts out throughout the piece, and Ian Clarke really does let loose on the percussion. A dark, reverent break with a low aa-ah aa-ah harmony, full percussion ideas, and a steady bass features, leading us up to a smashing return of the verses. A second intensely dark section includes what must be one of the weirdest guitar parts ever, and leads up to a cathartic release of the tension and force.

What Should Be Done is a fairly nice piece, with the band taking a break from all the weight of the previous pieces. David Byron's softer side again comes into play, accompanied by good, if fairly simple, piano-and-organ work. On the entrance of the second verse, the harmony vocals, odd guitar and percussion come in. An interesting example of structuring a song around one riff part, and pulling it off perfectly.

The jumpy rocker Love Machine rounds off the album, with an uplifting force, typical Byron vocals-of-sheer-jaw-dropping-greatness, heavy guitars, twinning Box's soloing with Hensley's rhythm hard rock stuff. As is always the case on this album, the rhythm section is superb, especially Newton, who manages to drop in some bursts of bass into the lead area without a hitch. Ken Hensley throws in organ soloing for fun value. The piece is ended with a winding-down effect.

Naturally this combination of consistently excellent tracks, superb playing and nice, artsy touches merits at least a four star rating, and the variety of the album matches its sheer force. The weird choices compliment the hard rock sections perfectly, and the group is able to find variety and innovative and interesting options within a distinctly rock sound, without resorting to bringing in dozens of extra musicians. Essential listening, to say the least. Not exactly a masterpiece for me, since I tend to get my biggest kicks out of more spacious, atmospheric and lyrically driven music, but I can't make a single criticism, and it is one of my most-listened albums. Not to be missed. Those who call it a masterpiece are objectively spot on.

Rating: Four Stars (objectively, I think it might earn a five, but only those closest to home should really have that rating)

Favourite Track: Look At Yourself

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |


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