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Ken Hensley - Love & Other Mysteries CD (album) cover


Ken Hensley


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2.39 | 9 ratings

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2 stars About a month ago, in 4th of November, Ken Hensley passed away at the age of 75. Although he had sort of semi- retired long ago, he continued to write and record music at a steady pace till the very end. Without a doubt, the most important and the best remembered part of his musical legacy is the classic (70's) era of URIAH HEEP, in which he played organ and other keyboards and composed most of the music. Before Heep he had already been the key figure in several short-time late 60's bands such as The Gods, and his first solo album came out in 1973: Proud Words on a Dusty Shelf is still regarded his best album.

I confess this is my first listening of any solo album by Hensley. (Sadly my review is also the first one for this album released eight years ago.) Without knowing exactly what to expect, I simply try to verbalize my subjective initial reception of the music, and along that I share some of Hensley's liner notes for each song. "The songs are not linked by any particular concept but they are connected as a phase in my life and career as a songwriter (...) I took them to the studio and presented them to the various musicians, vocalists, arrangers and technicians. Their only instructions were to ignore any instructions and apply their own creative thinking... This turned out to be the best plan."

Ken Hensley does most of the vocals himself, and he's actually a fairly good vocalist, slightly reminding of Elvis Costello. 'Bleeding Heart' has a country-ish tone, up to the guitar style and female backing vocals. On 'Romance' (about doomed "love between an American aristocrat and a Russian nobleman") Hensley duets with Santra Salkova; this emotional ballad goes back and forth from sensitivity to slightly overblown power, whereas I would have preferred to keep it simpler. '(Please) Tell Me When' is sung by Sarah Rope. Again, bordering on cheesiness, but naturally it depends on the listener if (s)he conciders the production to be excellent or too polished.

Another sentimental ballad, 'No Matter' is sung by Irenere Fornaciari and Roberto Tiranti, the latter from an Italian power metal band Labyrinth. 'Come to Me' and three songs after it are sung by Hensley. At this point it's clear that this album is not very rocking one. It is easily accessible, mellow, adult oriented pop, rather in the same way as old classic bands such as Procol Harum have done in their later years, only sounding more American and middle-of- the-road. Certainly no prog in sight. A blindfold listener couldn't really tell whether this was a keyboardist's (let alone rock legend's) album or just worked together with a capable bunch of musicians and producers. 'Walk Away' is even more country-spirited than the opener. Sorry to say, but this album feels to me so forgettable that I forget to read Hensley's liner notes for the songs. 'Respiro Tu Amor' is sung by Tiranti in Spanish, "one of the most romantic languages in the world". Sentimental as hell. The closing song is yet another syrupy man/woman duet (Fornaciari and Tiranti again).

As I said, I didn't know what to expect, but certainly it wasn't THIS lame and sentimental easy listening pop album in an American style. Disappointing, no other way to put it. R.I.P., Ken Hensley, we won't forget that you've done a lot of wonderful and progressive rock music too.

Matti | 2/5 |


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