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Ken Hensley - Eager To Please CD (album) cover

EAGER TO PLEASE

Ken Hensley

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Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The first Ken hensley solo album I ever had. In fact my sister had it and I kind of liked it at the time. I was amazed how Hensley´s voice was similar of that of David Byron. Ok, Byron´s may be stronger, but still it was strange to find two members of the same band with such timbre (the only other case I know is that of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins). It was released in mid 70´s and is a proof of Hensley´s genius. The guy was not only capable of writing Uriah Heep´s best sutff and still had enough talent to write all these tunes for a solo album. Certainly it was Henley´s most prolific periods.

While his first solo album included two members of the band (bassist Gary Thain and drummer Lee Kerslake), this time Hensley recruited ex UH Mark Clarke and Bugs Pemberton was on drums. I should say that, for a solo album, Ken was quite generous going as far as recording two Clarke tunes and letting him sing on them (Stargazer and In the Morning). And considering that those tunes are not exactly the best tracks on this record, he was very nice indeed.

What about the album itsself? Well, it does sound a lot like Uriah Heep as one should expect. Still, it is softer, more introspective and less exciting than something done by his main band during this period. This is not to say it is bad, far from it. It is quite pleasant and interesting, especially if you´re fan of UH during the Hensley years. Ok, we may miss Box heavy guitar riffs and Byron´s powerful delivery. But I believe it was never the author´s intention to sound like his band.

There are a number of fine tunes here: the title tracks is surely the strongest, but Longer Shadows and Winter Or Summer are also good. On the good side you´ll find no fillers but also there are no real gems (bar the title track). So in the end you see that Eager To Please is nice, but little else. Hensley always worked better with his famous group. My rating: 2,5 stars rounded up to 3 because I really like his more introspective side.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#191522)
Posted Tuesday, December 02, 2008 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars (Relief from the) Blood, Sweat and Tears

It took Ken Hensley over 2 years to record a follow up solo album to the 1973 release "Proud words on a dusty shelf". During that period, while Uriah Heep continued to enjoy global success, internally they were in turmoil with each band member having his own demons to conquer. Animosity and jealously were rife within the band, fuelled in part by Hensley's domination of the songwriting credits and the consequent discrepancies between the royalty monies earned by the band members. This album, which was released in 1975, fits in around the time of "Return to fantasy" when Gary Thain (who appeared on Hensley's first album) was fired, and John Wetton joined the band.

Hensley was by no means immune to the challenges of stardom, and has subsequently admitted that he made many mistakes along the way himself. Nevertheless, his prolific songwriting continued undiminished, and he had amassed a further catalogue of unused material by the time he came to planning this album. The fact that "Eager to please" includes two songs written or co-written by Hensley's friend and fellow musician Mark Clarke should not be taken as any indication that Hensley was short of material himself. What is significant though is that while Hensley uses a small band of guest musicians, no other members of Uriah Heep appear anywhere on the album.

There is, it seems to me, a fundamental difference between this album and "Proud words.." Ken's first album was very obviously a collection of songs written with Uriah Heep in mind, and the results were naturally an album which sounded like Uriah Heep. The songs on "Eager to please" appear to have been written with a project other than Uriah Heep in mind, resulting in an album which quite different to anything we have heard previously from Hensley. The opening title track certainly has a heavy beat and wailing guitar, but the songs structure is excitingly different.

It is though the second track "Stargazer" (not the Blackmore/Dio song) which catches my imagination. This is the first solo track by Hensley not written by him, one time Heep member Mark Clarke co-writing the song with Susie Bottomley. This superbly ambitious song features a full brass section playing in the Blood Sweat and Tears style. It is quite magnificent, and quite different to anything we would previously have associated with Hensley. All credit must go to Ken for the fine arrangement, which transforms the song from the decent but ordinary version we can hear on Tempest's second album (Clarke was a member of Tempest). It has been suggested that the main riff of the song was picked up by led Zeppelin for "Trampled underfoot".

The four remaining songs on the first side retain a largely reflective mood, with the power ballad "Through the eyes of a child" being one of Ken's most emotive songs. "Part three" is a superbly ambitious three part song (hence the title?) which pieces together three apparently unrelated min-songs in a magnificent trilogy in under 4 minutes.

The second side does not quite have the strength of the first, but nonetheless it contains some fine material. "Winter or summer" is similar to the title track without the killer touch, while the three tracks which sit between the bookends are decent but unremarkable Hensley fare. The third of these, "In the morning" sees Ken not only handing over songwriting duties to Mark Clarke again, but this time letting his sing lead vocal too. The closing "How shall I know" returns us to the power ballad with another uplifting song which benefits from a superb arrangement.

In all, a fine second solo album from Hensley which finds him making a conscious effort to differentiate his solo career from his key position in Uriah Heep. Fans of the band may be a little puzzled by what they hear here, but the album should have brought Ken to a much wider audience.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#202130)
Posted Monday, February 09, 2009 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I was quite disillusioned by Ken's solo debut. Although he was surrounded by another half of the Heep, there was little to share in terms of music. I know that it might be for this specific reason that a band member makes a solo effort, but I would have hoped a deeper Heep sound. Most of these songs were rock ballads and I had a mixed feeling about them.

For his second album, there are no Heep mates, on the contrary it is almost based on a trio of musicians only; but while I discovered the opening track, I could find points of comparison with the beloved band, and I quite liked it at first sight. The music is much more upbeat to start this album: the funky-rock ''Stargazer'' is anothe rwinner and a very follower for ''Eager To Please''.

Tempo and beat drop down with the country-style ''Secret'' and the fine ballad ''Through The Eyes?'', which highlights how good a keyboard player Ken is as well as a very good vocalist ( he could have take it over when Byron left actually).

The liner notes mention that this album was a joint project with Mark Clark (from Colloseum) but no real link with this band can be noticed.

Another fave of mine is the good old rock ''Winter Or Summer''. Punchy, it almost features Yes- oriented vocals but is unfortunately waaaaaaay too short. But none of tracks featured were on the long side.

The last numbers from this work are less interesting (''Longer Shadows''); maybe that Ken had little time to dedicate to his solo work but was still willing to release one. In terms of rating, I will end up as I did with ''Proud Words?''. It is an average record but I will round it up to three stars.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#221427)
Posted Tuesday, June 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The second album of Ken Hensley is not bad at all and again in some ways are very similar with Uriah Heep music as he wrote many songs for Uriah Heep. The opening track "Eager to Please" (4:51) even though it sounds like straightforward rock but there is a change of tempo in the middle of the track.. "Stargazer"(Clarke/Bottomley) (3:46) i sexperimental in nature as there is an orchestrtaed brass section throughout the song. It's not a bad idea as the music is bit becoming cheerful. As some people might say that Ken Hensley's solo is basically Uriah Heep minus Mick Box, I can agree with them as the style is Heep while the vocal is very similar with any Heep song.

Probably one of my favorites from this album is Take and Take (Hensley) (3:42) where the vocal harmony reminds me to duet Byron - Hensley that is unique Uriah Heep sound. The song has a good melody. But unfortunately the end is fading out - something that actually I do not like. "Longer Shadows" (Hensley) (3:32) is a track with acoustic guitar rhythm section while "In the Morning" (Clarke) (2:34) is a cheerful track in pop-rock style with good guitar work.

Overall, it's a good solo album by Ken Hensley. One of the reasons I enjoy playing this album is the sound quality that really represents the seventies despite good musical composition. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1062707)
Posted Saturday, October 19, 2013 | Review Permalink

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