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2 stars Is Uriah Heep a prog-rock band? Well, is Asia a prog-rock band then? Both - are not - a true prog-rock band, but Heep did make several albums in the early 70s with prog nuance. Ken Hensley roaring keys/organ certainly contribute to that. Head First is their second album following their revival after the band broke down earlier. You just have to acknowledge Mick Box persistence to revive the band with new members - without Hensley, Wetton and/or Lawton. Their first post-revival album - Abominog - can be considered in the same manner as Yes '90125' or Genesis 'Genesis 83' - where they opted to play lighter music with more melody - as opposed to their "trade-mark" music. Abominog - released in 82 was in straight hard-rockin songs/ AOR. During those years - it does not fall out of place.

Lets talk about Head First. It is not as strong as Abominog - as "we've heard that tune before" - previously played in Abominog. BUT, Head First still comes as good hard-rock album. Other Side of Midinight - is nice rock song with good melody to sing along - backed by harmonius backing vox. Stay on Top is a cheesy arena-rock- show-opener rock song. Terrible lyric, but - hey, this comes from old 70s band, certainly can match Bon Jovi or Dokken in that era. Lonely Nights is a strong pop melody - coming from oh well - Bryan Adams! Guess everyone is entitled to make money!

My favorite track has always been Love is Blind. The backing vocals during the chorus always remind me of - Styx. Peter Goalby - the voice, has a deeper heavy voice naturally but he sings slightly falsetto in the chorus. The rest of the tracks - are in the same vein - with Straight Through The Heart and Weekend Warriors are the other outstanding tracks.

If your interest is in pure prog - skip Uriah Heep. If you like Heep in the 70s - you may not enjoy this album If you like good - hard rockin songs (think Rainbow's Bent Out of Shape, Styx's Killroy was here) - Head First is a gem - along with of course - Abominog.

Rizal - Jakarta

Report this review (#31368)
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Heading in the right direction

This was Uriah Heep's last album for the Bronze Label, whom they had grown up with since their early days. The break was down to the financial state of the label more than anything else.

"Head first" has signs of Uriah Heep's slow but ultimately complete recovery. The sleeve is reasonably tasteful (the gallows in the distance not being immediately apparent!). The line up was the same as on the previous "Abominog", a level of stability not seen in the band for some years. They sound much more together as a result, with more adventurous but traditional Heep like vocal harmonies and a slightly stronger set. The songwriting is still questionable, and three tracks are written by non-band members.

"Rollin' the rock" and "Weekend warriors" are the best tracks. The former has some nice transitions from soft phases to loud rock, while the latter is a more traditional hard rock track, but with a much better hook than other tracks on the album. Goalby's vocals are once again strong, more in the way of John Lawton than David Byron, but solidly performed. Box throws in a few of his instantly recognisable solos, but unkind as it is to labour the point, the Hensley effect is still noticeable by its absence.

Definite signs that the band are getting back on their feet, but still a bit to go yet.

Report this review (#31369)
Posted Monday, August 9, 2004 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I guess this album won't please many prog fans, as it is quite clearly a hard-rock album of the 1980's instead of art rock record. I am not so fond of the sonic aesthetics of that era, but I think this album has some nice qualities. There are some pleasant ideas on the compositions, and the album forms quite fine two LP-sides of continuous music. The opener "The Other Side of Midnight" is quite catchy hit song (how perverse!), and the band has played it still on their gigs even at the 21th century. The A-side of the LP has few typical Heep-fillers before the last song of the side; "Love is Blind" being quite nice powerful tune. The B-side of the LP is much better, beginning a movie soundtrack sounding orchestral intro, which leads to "Red Lights", an exciting rock song for the hectic highways. The music continues without stops to "Rollin' The Rock", which has nice quiet and loud parts forming great hold and release contrasts. This song is followed by a ballad "Straight Through the Heart", which is without doubt very, very sweet, but I liked it still. The ending song "Weekend Warriors" is also ok. I had quite silly impression from that song, as I first misheard the verse going as "Viking Warriors", well that might have fitted as well. Though I liked this albumit, a prog listener should be very careful with it. Don't buy it without prelistening first carefully.
Report this review (#31370)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I agree that Uriah Heep are not a prog band, maybe in the early '70 some works are , Ken Hensley was the prog musician in the band. By the way this is still a good one, hard rock and nothing more. Head first are between Abominog and Equator, in every way. A still enjoyble one from the band.
Report this review (#31371)
Posted Friday, April 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was not really impressed with "Abominog", their previous release. Could the same line- up produced something better ? Their AOR/FM orientation was not really the best choice IMO. Unfortunately, with this release, they'll keep on investigating in these sounds.

Both "The Other Side of Midnight" and "Stay on Top" although heavy rock numbers are rather dull. The first interesting track is "Lonely Nights" thanks to its catchy melody and good rhythmics. A very nice and poopy tune. More in line with their work in " Conquest" which I quite liked (surprisingly). I guess that since heavy metal was rather popular in these days, that the Heep tried to attract fans from the genre with numbers like "Sweet Talk" (still formatted fo radio broadcasting). Not too bad though.

Another good rock song is "Love Is Blind". I have already written that when the Heep sticks to good (hard) rock songs it could still be pleasant (the best years being of course behind).

"Roll-Overture" could have been featured on "Salisbury" : it is one of their most symphonic (even a bit pompous) number. ELP is not far away. This could have been an intro to an epic song. Instead, it introduces the rather violent "Red Lights". Fabulous rythm here, and high pitched vocals as Byron had used us to. It is really a return to old the good old days (reminds me definitely "Bird Of Prey " from... "Salisbury" back in 1971). It has been ages than the Heep had not produced such a great song. Fantastic guitar work (thanks Mick). The absolute highlight here (too short, unfortunately. But this was already ture for some of their legendary tracks like "Easy Livin").

"Rollin' the Rock" is also a good number. Almost prog intro (for about 2'20") with very nice vocals and backing keys. The song then rocks strongly for a little while, like if the Heep was hesitant to produce a prog song (IMO, there were never really prog with the exception of "Salisbury", the album). I have always categorized them within the hard- rock genre. This song is again a very good surprise. Strong and efficient. Another highlight. The same spatial vocal from "Bird Of Prey" can also be heard at the end of the song (very briefly, I must say).

This album is rather pleasant : a global good rock feeling throughout the whole work. Here and there some weak songs like the AOR "Straight To The Heart"(but there was a time during which only poor songs were proposed). So, let's not complain too much. The closing number "Weekend Warriors" is again a solid hard-rock song with a fantastic rythm and a good melody. A very good song indeed to end this rather interesting (and surprising) album.

As I concluded in my review for "Conquest", the Heep is back on business. Should they only avoid this AOR sound here and there, it would be far much better.

Three stars. I hope the Heep will go on like this for their future releases.

Report this review (#118817)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
3 stars Head First is crafed in the manner of Abominog, it's a really good album but to my ears is not as good as Abominog; first of all three songs are written by non UH members, including a Brian Adams cover - fortunately a lot better than the original - thank God! Searching is an unnecessary bonus track , not bad but a bit repetitive. Stay on Top never impressed me except for the great bass. As for the rest of the songs they're really great. Especially great work from Goalby and Box shine here.

Although I like Abominog more than Head First, I still give it three stars; as with Abominog, HF won't satisfy many progheads, except maybe for those who also enjoy AOR, hard rock and classic heavy metal.

Report this review (#150615)
Posted Wednesday, November 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars After the success of Abominog Uriah Heep released this album, clearly influenced by the AOR and hard rock bands of that period. If the formula seemed to work well on the previous album, even at the cost of some of their trademark sound, now the band sounded too american and commercial for my taste. The cover looks better than Abominog, but the music inside does not.

Here the problem is not even the kind of sound, really. It´s the quality of the songs that suffers. While the first post Hensley album had some very strong tracks, here they simply tried to follow the path, but ended up recording tunes that not as good. Head First was a tentative LP: not really bad, but the band was trying to look what they´re not. Like throwing away the last vestiges of their glorious past and gain a whole new audience. Yes, that happened a lot at the time. It may nave worked for some (like Scorpions) but not for UH. At least not as much.

Anyway, things would go even more downward by the next release, Equator. But fortunaltly after that, UH would rise again, slowly, but steadly, with a better line up and stronger CDs. Head First is for collectors and hardcore fans, only.

Report this review (#175989)
Posted Thursday, July 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Oh... no, what's this! This album unarguably is the weakest to that date by Uriah Heep and a candidate for the weakest ever by the band. It's quite boring and its best song it around 2.2 - 2.3 stars. I mean the best song on the album. The sound is parted and blunt. Almost awful! Amateur quality of music. It don't looks like professional way of making music. I think the best song is... oh I don't know, which is... Maybe Red Lights or Sweet Talk or Love is Blind. But even the best songs are so boring. I believe this is one of the albums that have listeners only because of the name of the band. If you are Uriah Heep's fan you need this album only for the completion of the discography and nothing more! 1 star.
Report this review (#190618)
Posted Thursday, November 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
1 stars Well, after the great album of 1982, Abominog, this thing came out. Hardly any prog, with lots of hard rock and heavy metal, it's just a really boring album, to make it easy. There isn't much too it besides some really nice guitar riffs, guitar solo's the we have heard before, and some ballad's that we heard before.

"The Other Side of Midnight" has some really nice riffs, it's just the keyboards and vocals that really don't work because of the fact that they really make it sound poppier, and it kind of annoys me because of the prominance of the keyboards. The bassline and guitar solo are definatly appreciated. "Stay on Top" has an interesting intro, but the guitar solo at the beginning is just so Mick Box and so predictable. The bassline is awesome and loud. The vocal harmonies on this one seem alot like some Queen stuff, but worked out a little sloppier, but it's a good song. "Lonely Nights" sounds like a wannabe copy of some of the other stuff that was going on, but a little more country sounding. This song really annoys me. "Sweet Talk" has some really nice keyboards in the beginning, and sounds like something very fasted paced for Tangerine dream, but the telephone talk is just terrible. The lyrics are boring and they talk about the same old things. Seems like i've heard it before. "Love is Blind" is another ballad that we have heard before, but has some nice basslines and guitar parts, but the lyrics and vocals seem so predictable. "Roll-Overture" is one of the only tracks that really has potention. It seems a bit random, but the beginning stunt is absolutly excellent. The vocal harmonies after the loud and beautiful intro are excellent too. Too bad it's so short, because it's easily the best track on the album. "Red Lights" has some heavy riff thanks to Mick, and this is one of the better songs on the album because of the guitar playing and the heavy sound. The lyrics aren't great, but it's a good and hard rocker song. "Rollin' The Rock" is a decent song, and is one of the longer tracks on the album and a little more proggy than the rest of the album. The lyrics aren't great, as usual, but the vocals are excellent and music overall is excellent. "Straight Through the Heart" sounds like everything else at the time, but the guitar playing is a little better. The lyrics are the same old same old stuff, so chances are you have probably heard this before. "Weekend Warriors" sounds alot like the last track on the last album, with a great Tangerine Dream almost intro, but then turns into a boring heavy rocker that we have heard before.

Though some of this stuff you have probably heard before from other bands, there is some okay stuff. The lyrics are bad throughout and the ballads are unbearable, so I can't give this more than a 1 star, because only fans sound really have it.

Report this review (#258246)
Posted Monday, December 28, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars Yet another 1980's release by Uriah Heep that screams average hard rock/heavy metal. Ratt...Bon Jovi...Poison...Judas Priest...Survivor...Scorpions...Spinal's all here in blaring lead vocals, lame rock anthem chants, and mediocre overused guitar solos. The cliches are here in force. Man, this makes me long for DEMONS AND WIZARDS or THE MAGICIAN'S BIRTHDAY!!! Best song, hard to say, maybe "Weekend Warriors" since it lets me know the end is near. I guess the guillotine on the cover is why the album is called HEAD FIRST? 1 star. Uriah Heep may have never been a true progressive band, but at the top of their form they were great. This is just awful.
Report this review (#445181)
Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andrea Cortese
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The second album of the Goalby-era is made of the same ingredients of the previous "Abominog". It is also moulded by the same hands. Despite the low ratings it's a solid effort, a hard rock number with hints of that new wave of heavy metal hailing at that time from the UK: a lot of energy and good vibes.

The overall impression is an unstoppable flow of refined music which is difficult to resist and it's hard to tell whether is gleaming AOR or pure heavy rock. There are four highlights IMHO: the opener "The Other Side of Midnight", another kick ass hard rock number in the very same way of "Too Scared to Run". But the most interesting part (for a prog lover) is side 2 with the combo "Roll-Overture" and "Red Lights": the former is a real symphonic break, too short and not far from THE ENID, that leads to the metallic up-tempo "Red Lights" featuring typical Heep's dramatic choruses (awesome!). The title and the general mood of the latter reminds me of UFO and their memorable exciting hard rock attitude. The closer "Weekend Warriors" is in a similar way.

The other tracks are more radio-friendly cuts, arranged here and there with heavy metal grit and passion thanks to Peter Goalby his wonderful set of pipes. Well, I know that for many reviewers this is not Uriah Heep anymore; in particular, its bad fame is in part due to the BRYAN ADAMS cover "Lonely Nights". However, I find the song pretty decent and the whole disc more surprising than that I would expect from such poor ratings and negative reviews. At that time the band dreamed that they could conquer the US charts. They did not but still released an appreciable work.

Report this review (#1218830)
Posted Monday, July 21, 2014 | Review Permalink

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