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Uriah Heep - Easy Livin' - A history of Uriah Heep CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep

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Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Worth seeing a thousand times

When I came across this video in 1988, I must admit I became somewhat excited, and perhaps emotional. With both Gary Thain and David Byron having died, there was never going to be another chance to witness the classic line up of the band play live again. I had therefore assumed that I would have to rely entirely on my fond but fading memories of the various gigs I had attended in the 1970's. It never even crossed my mind that somewhere there might be footage of the band which recorded albums such as "Demons and wizards" and "The magician's birthday", let alone that such footage might one day be made commercially available.

The advent of the DVD and the ongoing interest in the band's classic years has of course led to many other releases in recent years but this collection was the first, and for a long time only, visual record of the band to be published.

Pretty much all of the footage of the line up which included David Byron contained on this video is taken from a performance the band did for Central Television in front of a live audience. The concert was never actually broadcast, but the music was released on CD as the "Live at Shepperton" collection. While the CD was noticeably inferior to the classic "Live '73" album, seeing the band performing here more that compensates for any shortcomings in the sound. Byron is in typical strutting, champagne guzzling mode as he peacocks his way around the stage. Hensley and Thain disappear for long periods at a time behind their improbably long hair, Kerslake thumps the skins as if his life depends on it, and Box, well Mick is just Mick! Thankfully he never changes. The songs included from this period range from the delicate ballad "The easy road" to the wonderfully insane "Rock'n'roll medley". And of course there is "Easy livin'", a song which still sounds great no matter how many thousand times you hear it.

The documentary actually covers the history of the band right up until 1985, the then latest album being "Head First". As such, we are led through numerous line up changes the most significant of which is the departure of Ken Hensley. Hensley was the principal songwriter with the band during his time with them, as well as providing their signature Hammond Organ sound. Here, his candid narration (he is not actually interviewed as such) belies any accusations of arrogance. The most poignant moment is when he ruefully opines that if his old mates Byron and Thain were still around perhaps Uriah Heep would be "doing what Deep Purple have just done", and reforming the classic line up. The reference to Deep Purple is interesting as Uriah Heep were sometimes cited as being similar to DP, but always one step behind.

The songs from the then later albums offer a good cross section of that period, with great footage from studio promos and a later live gig, but inevitably they simply act as a supporting cast to the Shepperton footage.

This deleted collection has been largely superseded by the superb DVD material which is available today, especially the "Classic Heep - Live from the Byron era" collection. Even then though, the complete Shepperton performance has never been made available on video, something which must surely be rectified soon.

All that aside, this is an excellent visual history of the band from the early 1970's to the mid 1980's. It has never been made available on DVD, but if you come across it on VHS and still have the means to play it, it is essential viewing.

Report this review (#128609)
Posted Sunday, July 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This video has a very abridged history of the band from their beginnings until 1985, showing interviews done with Ken Hensley, who was the main composer of the band between 1970 and 1980, the year that Hensley left the band. The history of the band in this video is divided more by the periods determined by their lead singers until 1985 (David Byron, John Lawton, John Sloman, Peter Goalby) and most of the other members and former members of the band are mentioned very briefly or are not mentioned at all, with the exception of some early members (Alex Napier, Paul Newton, Nigel Olsson) and the members of their "classic" line-up (David Byron, Mick Box, Ken Hensley, Lee Kerslake, Gary Thain). Hensley talks briefly about some facts about each lead singer`s era, but the main portions of this video are dedicated to showing some songs played live and also some promotional videos:

- Lve at Shepperton Film Studios, London UK 1974: showing the "classic" line-up of the band playing live for a previously unreleased TV special. These performances are good but not as good as their performances from their very good "Live January 1973" album. Anyway, the camera angles are good.

- Studio promos 1978: they show the band doing playbacks to some songs from their "Fallen Angel" album, with John Lawton as lead singer and Trevor Bolder as bassist. They show that despite still being a good band their musical style was tending more to commercial music. Lawton has a very good voice and Bolder was a very good bassist.

- Studio promo 1980 for their "Feelings" song from their "Conquest" album from 1980, with John Sloman as lead singer and Chris Slade on drums. Sloman is also a very good singer and Slade a very good drummer, but by 1980 their music became even more commercial, and Sloman`s style of singing was more far than Lawton`s from Byron`s style of singing. Sloman`s singing even made the band sound very different.

- Live in Auckland, NZ 1984: Mick Box reformed the band in 1981 with lead singer Peter Goalby, which also is a very good singer but whose voice is more close to Byron`s , So, in my opinion, he was one of the best singers the band has had. The band in 1984 sounded really very well, with Box being by then (and until the present) the only remaining original member of the band. Box was also joined in the line-up by Lee Kerslake, Trevor Bolder and John Sinclair. A very energetic and good live performance by this line-up.

As a whole, this is an interesting video which is more focused in live performances and promo videos of full songs than in a more detailed history of the band with interviews with other members and former members of the band. Anyway, it is a good video.

By the way: David Byron died in 28-February-1985...thirty years ago.

Report this review (#1375189)
Posted Saturday, February 28, 2015 | Review Permalink

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