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

EASY LIVIN' - A HISTORY OF URIAH HEEP

Uriah Heep

Heavy Prog


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Easy Livin
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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.

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Posted Sunday, July 15, 2007 | Review Permalink

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