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Uriah Heep - Uriah Heep - Live CD (album) cover

URIAH HEEP - LIVE

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

3.90 | 118 ratings

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Jim Garten
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin & Razor Guru
3 stars In 1973, it had to happen - the 'classic' lineup of Uriah Heep release a double live album, but although they have in their 35 year career skirted around progressive rock, don't look for the more subtle acoustic songs here - this is Heep at their most bombastic.

Throughout the album, the band rarely put a foot wrong, Box supplys the power chords like a man possessed, Hensley beats seven shades of good for the roses out of his poor Hammond B3, Byron is at the peak of his powers, Thain plays beautifully as usual (his death a couple of years later was a tragic loss to the craft of bass guitar), and Kerslake lays down solid 4/4 from the back as ever.

So why only three stars then?

My problem with this album overall, is that it is too one dimensional; excepting a few standout tracks (July Morning, Tears In My Eyes and Circle Of Hands) the classics are all played at breakneck speed, as if to bludgeon them into submission, thereby losing any of the subtle nuances (yes, Uriah Heep did do subtle) present on the studio albums. 'Look At Yourself' is a case in point, with the band sprinting through as if going for a record, then losing momentum completely with a 'singalong' section....... 'Gypsy' however, initially benefits from a speedier live version, before descending into a lengthy Moog solo (stick to Hammond, Ken), and then a Lee Kerslake drum solo (the less said of which the better).

It is not all doom & gloom, however - July Morning, Tears In My Eyes and Circle Of Hands are all stage favorites of the time, and rightly so, played here with feeling, power and virtuosity (Hensley's slide guitar work in 'Tears' must have had Mick Box wishing Ken had stayed behind the Hammond), 'July Morning', in particular showing Heep at their tightest, and proving that speed is not all there is to a powerful rock epic.

After careful consideration, I gave this album 3 stars - however, had the album been a single, rather than a double, this rating would probably have been increased to a 4, or even possibly a 5 star. The problem is that the breakneck speed tracks are mostly in the second half, as is the rock'n'roll medley; had the album finished with Tears In My Eyes, you'd be left wanting more, as it is, you wonder why you listened to it all..... a clear case of less being more.

In conclusion then, this is Heep as I suspect they would like to be remembered, the classic lineup in full flow (although why did they have to include the awful rock'n'roll medley?) in front of a partisan audience, back in the days when things were so much simpler, and the Hammond ruled over all. By no means an essential album, but a worthy addition to any early '70s collection.

Jim Garten | 3/5 |

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