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Uriah Heep - Conquest CD (album) cover

CONQUEST

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

2.60 | 171 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Things can only get better

Generally accepted as the low point of the band's studio career, "Conquest" has little to recommend it even to the most ardent fan. This was to be Ken Hensley's last album with the band, and it is a real travesty that his parting album should be so poor.

To be fair, the main problem with the album is the vocals of John Lawton's replacement John Sloman. The ex Lone Star singer has a good voice which fitted in well with the music of that band. Unfortunately, his style did not suit the music of Uriah Heep at all. Hensley soon recognised this, leading to a major personality clash between the two. Hensley thus departed after the album had been released, leaving Mick Box as the only original member.

Lee Kerslake's replacement Chris Slade (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) makes a much better go of the drums, but it's doubtful whether he saw his membership of the band as anything other than a temporary appointment.

The songwriting credits are slightly more distributed than on previous albums, although Hensley still manages sole or partial credit on six of the eight tracks. Songs like "Imagination" and Trevor Boulder's "Fools" would have sounded good if performed by Lawton, but Sloman seems to constantly struggle to identify with them, in fact he seems at times to be completely out of his depth. There are occasional moments of inspiration, such as the synthesiser and guitar interplay on "Out on the street", and the synth driven ballad "It ain't easy" (which also suits Sloman's vocals better), but generally the album lacks inspiration and focus. It seems clear that had the album been made by a previous line up of the band, the songs could have been developed into much stronger pieces (the potential IS there), and the performance too would have been much tighter.

In his 1997 sleeve notes, Mick Box recognises the failings of the album, while maintaining that he himself enjoys it. He does however propose that those who do not rate it "use it to play frisbee with your dog in the park"!

After Hensley's departure, Sloman's former band mate in Pulsar, Greg Dechart was brought in on keyboards on a temporary basis. Two of the tracks he recorded with Uriah Heep appear as bonus tracks on the CD remaster of "Conquest", but they sound nothing like Uriah Heep. The band then effectively split up altogether, founding vocalist David Byron having declined an offer to rejoin Box and Boulder. Fortunately, Box was to pull things together again, but the road back would be long and difficult.

Easy Livin | 2/5 |

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