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Uriah Heep

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Uriah Heep Sweet Freedom album cover
3.45 | 406 ratings | 28 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1973

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dreamer (3:41)
2. Stealin' (4:49)
3. One Day (2:47)
4. Sweet Freedom (6:37)
5. If I Had the Time (5:43)
6. Seven Stars (3:52)
7. Circus (2:44)
8. Pilgrim (7:10)

Total Time 37:23

Bonus tracks on 1996 Essential remaster :
9. Sunshine (single B-side) (4:48)
10. Stealin' (edited single version) (3:17)
11. Seven Stars (unedited long version) (5:29) *

Bonus tracks on 2004 Sanctuary remaster:
9. Sunshine (single B-side) (4:48)
10. Seven Stars (extended version) (7:03)
11. Pilgrim (extended version) (8:29) *
12. If I Had the Time (demo version) (6:02)
13. Sweet Freedom (live version) (6:48)
14. Stealin' (live version) (5:41)

* Previously unreleased

Line-up / Musicians

- David Byron / lead vocals
- Mick Box / guitars
- Ken Hensley / keyboards, guitars, backing vocals
- Gary Thain / bass
- Lee Kerslake / drums, percussion, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Corriston with Fin Costello (photo)

LP Bronze ‎- ILPS 9245 (1973, UK)

CD Bronze ‎- 260 136-217 (1987, Germany)
CD Essential ‎- ESMCD 338 (1996, UK) Remastered by Mike Brown & Robert M. Corich w/ 3 bonus tracks
CD Sanctuary Midline ‎- SMRCD011 (2004, Europe) Remaster reissue w/ 6 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to BaldJean for the last updates
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Buy URIAH HEEP Sweet Freedom Music

URIAH HEEP Sweet Freedom ratings distribution

(406 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (36%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

URIAH HEEP Sweet Freedom reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars "If I had the time to re-live my life, I don't think I'd care to change a thing"

The third album by the Byron/Box/Hensley/Kerslake/Thain line up found them moving away from the fantasy theme, but producing what was probably their most melodic album of all. The sleeve was the first clue of the changes as, unlike the previous two albums, Roger Dean was not involved. This was compensated for to some extent by the double fold out, but it still lacks the impact of Dean's work.

Musically however, the band were still in top form. Hensley dominates the song writing once again, and the tracks generally lean towards his keyboard work, with Box's lead guitar outings being less frequent. The album includes one of Heep's most famous works in "Stealin'", which in many ways is a slightly slowed down version of "Easy Livin'". The band were as close as they've ever come to a world-wide hit single with this track, foiled only by it being banned from radio play because of the reference to "doing the rancher's daughter"!

The title track is a wonderful power ballad on which Byron interprets Hensley's sensitive lyrics in a very emotive and effective way. I remember a reviewer at the time described the track as "swimming in organ". It was intended as a criticism, but while quite correct, is in fact a strong recommendation.

"If I had the time" sees Hensley still in power ballad writing mode, this time using the synthesiser to create the depth of sound. It's interesting to compare the demo version of this track which first appeared on Hensley's "From time to time" album with the finished article here. It demonstrates clearly how, while Hensley was the main songwriter, the band as a whole created the finished articles.

"Pilgrim" closes the album in more progressive mode. The track has two distinct sections, separated by a screaming guitar solo from Box. Byron exercises the full range of his vocal capabilities during the track, cumulating in a screamed finale. While the track is truly excellent, it could have been even better. This may be due in part to the fade out ending which seems to imply that the band couldn't come up with a satisfactory conclusion.

In all, another fine, polished product from the band, which generally finds them moving further away from their "'eavy" beginnings.

The recently released deluxe remaster has 6 additional tracks, including two extended, one demo, and two live versions of tracks from the album, plus a great single B side ("Sunshine").

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars IMO , the start of the long slope downhill, although this is still a good one. The fantasy trip is over (although the album titles still will allude to it but in a blunt fashion: Return to Fantasy , Wonderworld but with horrendous art work) and the album sounds a lot to Purple . I am not saying that they copied , because those two always sonded alike , but in this album , this is very much so . As for the music , this is solid hard rock that I only discoverted recently ( 93 ) compared to their other albums ( late 70's). They were a tight band and the closer appealled to me most.
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Maybe I am missing something but I am finding it relatively 'piece meal' reviewing Uriah Heep albums as most of them come up with an average good rating. Sweet Freedom had a more rock edge to the music and in someways for me just shades the previous two studio albums.The title track, ' If I had Time' and ' Pilgrim' share the spoils.
Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was never very impressed of some the tunes on this album, like "Dreamer" or even "Stealin'". Though they are not terrible songs, it just bugs me as in my opinion these just the lack the imagination and feeling which was present on their earlier classic songs. Goodies on this are the wonderful emotional songs, that being the title tune, "If I Had The Time" and "Pilgrim". The lack of fantasy elements doesn't matter very much to me, but the previous three albums were their best still!
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars One might have forgotten or neglected this album as it did not generate a memorable hit like previous albums. But, we have to admit that musically this album is excellent - composition-wise as well as the band's efforts to push their musical boundaries. You can see it right from the opening track "Dreamer" (3:41) where it sounds a true rock song but the band has included groove music in it. It has made the music energetic, powerful. One noticeable difference is the way the instrument is composed whereby Ken Hensley put aside his soaring keyboard sound at the back and giving Mr. Mick Box more chance to demonstrate his hard-edge guitar riffs and melody. It's really stunning.

"Stealing" has become the band's legendary track where recent live set has always included this song-based composition in the set list. Those who have been familiar with how this track is played live in Magician's Birthday's Party or Live in Moscow would see the difference on how instrument is played. In this original version, Gary Thain provides much richer basslines. So powerful. Byron voice got a lot of power.

"One Day" (2:47) has its roots on unique choirs that become Heep sound. Hensley keyboard soars at the back putting it up together as rhythm section combined with rhythm guitar and solo - especially during transition segment. "Sweet Freedom" (6:37) lends itself the rhythm section and a bit of melody from the band's hit "July Morning" (from "Look At Yourself" album). Even though it has different beat and tagline melody, for sure this track is heavily influenced by the legendary hit.

"If I Had The Time" (5:43) is for me like a ballad rock song with a good melody, keyboard and vocal orientated song. It favors most ears, I think, be it a rock fan or any music buff would enjoy this song. As is the case with the other two tracks "Seven Stars" and "Circus".

If I am asked to vote what is the best song from this album I would definitely say that the album's concluding track "Pilgrim" is the only one. Yeah, this track deserves full five star rating (masterpiece) as it has a powerful composition, strong songwriting and excellent performance overall. In addition to that, this song is the only one which is really prog musically. I always repeat this last track whenever I play this album in its entirety. In terms of structure, this song has multi-part with different music styles but everything revolves around comprehensive tagline melody. This track blows me away from start with energetic opening and powerful choirs followed with rhythm section that combines great guitar rhythm and soaring keyboard sound. Evrything is glued together tightly with dynamic bass lines produced by one of the best rock bass guitar players, Mr. Gary Thain (RIP). Oh yeah, Ken Hensley still provides his magic sound through his finger punches. The song provides varied composition from simple to relatively complex segments. Oh . Mick Box guitar solo reminds me to his wonderful guitar solo in "Gypsy" (especially from "Live 73" version"). Byron really sings very high register notes at the end of the song. Wonderful!

So, what can I say overall? No doubt, I would recommend you to purchase this CD! This album has been under-rated so far. It deserves excellent rating. Keep on proggin' ..! LONG LIVE HEEP!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Certainly not the best Heep's effort, this one is not on the same level as "Salisbury" or "Look At Yourself" are and it didn't pass well on the test of time. However, it's not bad at all.

Personally, I like this kind of music a lot, but I'll try to be fair. Well, It's hard to say whether the band decided to try a different path or they've just lost imagination, but whatever the reason might be, changes are evident at their best on the first two tracks, "Dreamer" and "Stealin'". They are good (but not extremely good, mind you) hard rock tunes, but nothing more. They're both repetitive, with simple bass lines, and after a fade-out, you got an impression that nothing happened. The highlights are screaming vocals, however. My fave is "If I Had The Time" (although progressive "Pilgrim" is technically the best) because of the remarkable keyboard melody, some sort of a meditative feel inside moderate rock tempo, and, I'm really not sure why, science fiction atmosphere. "Seven Stars" is also worth mentioning, it's band's step towards silliness, and I like these kind of things. On the other, "serious", side, there's lovely, mellow, acoustic "Circus", and "Sweet Freedom" with nice and suggestive chorus.

If you're a fan of that sort of music (whether is progressive or not) that utilises hard rock mannerism with heavy keyboards, and if you're fan of 70's in general, you might easily like this one. This is a a good album, but it'll have to wait for a long time to be discovered by an average (prog) rock fan...because there's so much equally good or better albums around.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars The Heep produced five great studio albums and one fantastic live one in three years. Could they keep the pace of this incredible creativity ?

The opener is not a really in line with the Heep's habit to deliver great tracks to start an album. "Still Dreamer" is a good hard rock tune : strong keyboards and catchy melody. "Stealin" starts as a ballad but turns to a rockier number after 1'30". Rather heavy, with Hensley pumping his organ as usual (but more as a background instrument), Box playing a good guitar break. The end of the song is a bit too repetitive. We'll get a more traditional Heep song with "One Day" : great keyboards, good vocal harmonies. Somewhat poppy.

The first great track is the fourth one : "Sweet Freedom". A very good hard rock song : a great crescendo intro leading to a well balanced song. Strong rhythm section (bass especially) as well as keys in the background. This was already a remark I made in "Magician's Birthday" : Hensley keys has no dominant role any longer as before which is a pain. This track though takes up again with the tradition. Byron is at his best. It is the best track of this album, by far. It can really be compared with some of their legendary numberss. It is only lacking a great guitar or organ solo to reach the pinnacle of their production.

"If I Had The Time" has a slow but strong tempo (which even sounds prog). Byron's voice is high-pitched here. This song is on par with the album so far. Good but not great

"Seven Stars" is an attempt to re-create "Easy Livin". Since I love this track so much I do not have any problems with it. Another good hard rock song. As in their previous two albums, the Heep will release an acoustic song : "Circus". I guess that like Led Zep they might be a bit tired to produce hard to heavy songs and therefore will record here and there softer tunes. It brings a flavour of freshness, but still it is not this side of the Heep that I prefer.

On the contrary, the album closes with "Pilgrim" which is a highlight. On par with "Sweet Freedom". Great keyboards and piano and again a solid bass playing. I really like how this instrument sounds in their first six efforts : maybe too much in evidence sometimes but it is often so strong and so typical that I just love it. It is really a Heep's trademark since several bass players will hold this instrument and the quality will never decrease. Credit must be given to them. Hensley work is again, superb. The finale is absolutely wonderful.

Some bonus tracks on the remastered edition are valuable. "Sunshine" specially : it should have deserved to sit on the original album. Very melodious and hard-rocking like hell. IMO, it is one of the best track available and it is a mystery for me that it was not released originally. But we are lucky to get it here as a bonus. The live version for "Seven Stars" is also interesting.

If we except a few tracks, there won't be songs which will remind their legendary tracks ("Gypsy", "Look At Yourself", "July Morning" etc.). But again, when you consider that they produced so many great albums (five) in such a short period of time (three years), one can understand that they need to breathe a bit to regain some more inspiration. This album is a good effort though. Unfortunately, it will be one of their last ones. Three stars.

Review by febus
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

For some of URIAH HEEP fans, the quality of this album seems to be subpar compared to the first 5 studio albums! For me it is their crowning artistic achievement. I LOVE this album!!! The beginning of the downfall is near starting with the next album WONDERWORLD, but SWEET FREEDOM has always been a great pleasure to listen for me.

There are no bad tracks, there are no average tracks. Only good and great songs. This album includes my all time favorite URIAH HEEP tune, the wonderful PILGRIM with the best vocal performance from DAVID BYRON i ever heard. How brilliant! how powerful! KEN HENSLEY is completely in charge, the hammond is all over the place like on the melancholic ballad ''SWEET FREEDOM'' the title track. It doesn't live much space for MICK BOX to shine, except the occasional (short) solo like on the great hit of the album; the energetic ''STEALIN''.

Quite a few mid-tempo ballads like the excellent ''ONE DAY'' or''if I HAD THE TIME'' complete this album with very nice melodies or great arrangements like the moog part on the latter. Quite a very nice athmospheric album, not really on the hard side at all except the first 2 tracks. This is an album for DAVID BYRON to shine throughout with his all so beautiful tender, yet powerful voice! Seems those songs has been written by HENSLEY especially for his lead singer.SWEET FREEDOM can be seen as collaboration between these 2 as the 3 other musicians really take a backseat on this album.

Yes, a lot of hammond, a lot of BYRON; i have nothing to complaint about. a magnificent album. And we will never get tired of listening to PIGRIM, can we? at least, not me!

A full 5 stars for SWEET FREEDOM; won't be any 5 stars anymore after this album!


Review by b_olariu
4 stars Still a classic of music, and still a great Uriah Heep album, maybe and for sure not better then Demons and Look, but again still full of great tunes. 4 stars, there are no bad tracks, there are no weak tracks, something in between that result a great album, but with a lack of magic in music that this band had fiew years ago. Forte tracks all, they have same value, not a track is in front. So i think this is one of the best Heep, the beginning of the downfall is near starting with the next album WONDERWORLD (wich i find a 3 star album), but Sweet freedom worth check out, here every musicians plays corect and at the full capacity but the magic of Demons is gone, i still consider this a 4 star album.
Review by Chicapah
2 stars One of the most useful aspects of this site is to be found in taking advantage of the ability to identify several reviewers whose tastes and opinions mirror one's own. When I consider the overwhelming number of bands, artists and albums contained in the ever-expanding prog galaxy I am very thankful that I can look up those particular critics and see what they thought of the work I'm thinking of purchasing. Especially when it comes to a group that I know nothing about. By the same token, I feel an obligation to provide the same service to others who might respect my take in a similar fashion.

Uriah Heep is one of those bands that I never took much notice of. I'd come across their LPs in the record stores but none of my friends or colleagues were into them so it's as if they existed in a parallel universe to my own (along with many others, I might add). So, while rummaging through my wife's clump of cassettes I came across "Sweet Freedom." As far as I can tell this album isn't considered their worst or their best so I figure it must be a fair and decent representation of what they are about. Sorry to report that I am not impressed.

"Dreamer" is heavy on the straightforward rock & roll and highly deficient in prog leanings (as is the whole thing). There's no separation of the flat sound in the mix so it rolls at you like a wall of indecipherably busy goings on. "Stealin'" is one of the few songs that I heard from these guys on the radio back in the 70s so I at least knew what to expect. I have to say that Deep Purple did this kind of material a lot better, with a lot more dynamics and with a lot less repetition. "One Day" reminds me of the kind of stuff that REO Speedwagon was making a living producing back then and I didn't think much of their material, either. There's nothing remarkable about the tune at all. "Sweet Freedom" has a nice build-up but then it levels off into a rather lame melody. There seems to be a lack of imagination going into their arrangements in that they just go from verse to chorus to bridge and then repeat the pattern. Prog is more adventuresome than that.

"If I Had the Time" is next and it features the cheesy synthesizer tone that was popular in that era but hasn't aged very well regardless of who was using it. Again, it's not that the tune is all that terrible, it just doesn't go anywhere. "Seven Stars" at least has some semblance of a prog atmosphere yet it's too weak a composition to make any difference. When the singer starts reciting the alphabet at the end I get the impression that the idea well had run dry on these boys. If there's a bright spot here it comes on "Circus." It's a good tune overall and they display some much-needed variety in their musicianship as they tone things down a bit and find a smooth, acoustic groove to ride in. I've read where others have praised "Pilgrim" in their review but I don't hear any magic at all. It's too pretentious to begin with and becomes monotonous after only a few minutes. The vocalist delivers a poor imitation of Ian Gillian here and it ain't a pretty sight. Look away. The bonus track of the trite "Sunshine" should have been left locked up in the vault where it belonged. And you'd think that someone would have brought it to the attention of the guitarist that he uses the same fuzzy tone on almost every track and that a big dose of diversity would be a welcome change. But maybe that's just me.

For those die-hard fans who grew up with and adore these fellas and might now be incensed over my assessment of this album, I promise not to offend you with more reviews of their work in the future. One taste was enough. For those of you who are curious about this group and are tempted to invest some of your hard-earned cash in them I have offered my honest opinion. While I fail to see the attraction I can understand why some enjoy their art. Lord knows there are some skeletons in my musical closet, as well. 1.5 stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars What to say about this album that most reviewrs had already said? I was surprised by the low ratings this CD got here in PA. It was always one of my favorites Uriah Heep works and I still think itīs a great album today. Ok, the musicanship suffered a little by this time due to a lot of problems the band was facing at the time (long tours, Byronīs driking , Thainīs heroin addiction, short time to record, etc). Still no one notices that hearing this CD.

The fantasy themes were gone too, mostly because the group felt a lot of people were missing the point (i.e. taking the stories too seriously, specially in USA). It may sound silly today, but letīs remember those were the early 70īs and the subject was quite new and bold (and letīs face that even ten years later, in the 80īs a lot of heavy metal bands were accused of satanism for dealing with such themes). Anyway, on the muscial side only the album had a lot to offer and it may explainīs itīs success at the time, even with the sudden change (even at the cover art). Sweet Freedom produced two all time classics with Stealinīand the title track, but there are more gems here, most of them forgotten ones. In fact maybe with the sole exception of even Seven Stars (the only weaker tune, even though itīs not bad), all the songs are remarkable and inspired. I hear the whole album every time I put it on.

So in the end I must rate Sweet Freedom below Magicianīs Birthday and Demons And Wizzards, but only because those are truly flawless masterpieces and I appreciate their fantasy themes a lot. Musicly speaking Sweet Freedom may be a little different, rockier album, but still powerful and convincing. Four stars at least. Highly recommended.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
4 stars Again big Uriah Heep! An album full of energy and great music. Great guitars by Mick Box. This is a turning point for the vocalist David Byron. I think this is the first album to feature not so powerful vocals by him. There are some moments where he cannot control his voice on this album, most notably the first and the second song. Probably it is temporal problem for him (up to that date; later it becomes real problem). I really believe the second part of the album contains better songs than the first one. I think the best song on the album is Pilgrim - the last one, but attention can be focused on If I Had the Time, too. There's no very much more to say about Sweet Freedom. An album close to all previous Uriah Heep's albums in terms of quality - another big one for the heepsters!
Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet

The first Heep that I owned, Sweet Freedom, was bagged at a fair selling second hand junk. I saw this in one of the bins and snapped it up, not knowing much about this band except for their brilliant tracks Gypsy, Free Me and Easy Livin'. I did not know what to expect but I did not expect such a sugar coated melodic radio friendly sound on this album. It took me a few listens to get into the music, and now having scored other great Heep I have come to the conclusion that this is one of their most inept recordings.

It is difficult to find a decent rock track, as it is all played at a low volume and even crooned in places ooo-ooh ooo-ooh stealin' when I shoulda been buyin' So we have ascertained that this is one of the softest Heeps but is it any good?

It has great moments - Stealin IS memorable and great to sing to. So is Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeet Freeeeeeeeeeeeeddddoooooooooommmm.... Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet It works for me and I saw a DVD that showed how much the crowd loved these little classics.

However the rest of the album is forgettable and not very heavy. It is perhaps one of the safest and as a result mediocre releases of the band. Side One is definitely the best because I cannot even recall how any of Side 2 tracks go.

There is some great guitar work on the album and the vocals are top notch as ever. The thing that lets it down is the song content itself - the band seem so wrapped up in themes of dreaming of a better life, or being free or trying to find meaning - yet some band members had suicided by the end of the decade. This release actually leaves me cold as I know how great Heep can be with such master works as Demons and Wizards. THAT is a great release, not this Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeet Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet attempt at rock.

2 stars for the aforementioned songs.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Seven Stars! Yeah right, dream on Heep.

If anyone was waiting for further proof of Heep's decline, Sweet Freedom has ample of it. The opener Dreamer even returns to old-fashioned blues-a-billy in an attempt to hide the complete disappearance of song writing skills. Stealin' is equally faceless but at least this one has some sort of memorable melodies and a fun groove. Be warned though: very badly dated hard-rock warning here.

If I Had the Time is not without merit but it's basically just rehashing some old ideas, especially July Morning comes to mind, at least it saves the album from the one sour star sentence. Seven Stars is a fun little song and so is Circus, which can proudly sit next to the great acoustic guitar driven ballads that ELP has made.

With only a few deserving songs, the 7 minute Pilgrim could have lifted this album to a slightly higher level but it's just another disappointment. Only for die-hard fans again, who obviously seem to like this album a lot.

Review by baz91
2 stars No more prog, just good ol' heavy rock!

I had originally resigned myself to giving this album one star because, after hearing the mediocrity of 'The Magician's Birthday', I thought there could surely be nothing to save the band's sixth album. I then gave the album a couple of spins and something miraculous happened: I started to like it. It might be that while the former album was riddled with useless tracks like Spider Woman, 'Sweet Freedom' is full of better compositions. This would be the third album with the Byron/Hensley/Box/Kerslake/Thain line-up, which is surprising given how volatile the line-up could be.

The album opens with the punchy rocker Dreamer. The very first thing I noticed about this song is how Box's guitar work seems to mirror his solo from the last album in the song The Magician's Birthday. This is a fast-paced song, and is over relatively quickly.

Stealin' was the band's lead single from the album. The song is told from the viewpoint of a cowboy who has 'done the rancher's daughter' and feels bad about what he has done. This song wouldn't be as good as it is if the drums and grinding organ didn't sound so well tuned. Even though the lyrics can be a little suspect, this is still a fun song.

One Day is a brief rock song with bizarre lyrics. There's not a lot of things to say about this track, but i do like the riff used during the verse.

The title track, Sweet Freedom, is a powerful rocker with a strong underlying organ theme. The chorus, which just consists of Sweeeeet, Sweeeeet, Freeeedom repeated over and over, is my least favourite part of the track. The interesting bit is how they build up the song slowly from a quiet start, and again after the first chorus. Not quite a good enough track to have the album named after it, but what can you do.

If I Had The Time is my least favourite track on this record. It annoys me in that it has pretentious lyrics and a repetitive feel. The organ riff sounds great the first 10 times, but continues throughout the entire track. Sorry Hensley, I don't have the time!

Seven Stars becomes the surprising favourite for me on this album. Despite it's brevity, and lack of anything that could be called progressive, the rhythmic feel of the song coupled with fun lyrics and great powerful drumming makes this a song to rock out to. The band clearly don't take the song seriously as Byron starts to recite the alphabet at the end of the song. An extended version of this song can be heard on the latest remaster, and what's peculiar is that the song doesn't feel any different with the extra 3 minutes.

The shortest track on the record, Circus, is a lighter, more relaxing song with an acoustic feel. I really like this song, and if I could find an album that was full of music like this, I'd snap it up, as I've been looking for music to relax to for ages.

The final track, Pilgrim, is surely the most progressive number on the record. The regular proggy symptoms are there: tracklength over 7 minutes, unusual song structure, no chorus, pretentious lyrics. Unfortunately however, this track is just too heavy and noisy and there's no instrumental or cool rhythm or other musical device to keep you interested in this song. I have to say though, I adore the lyric 'Life's like an apple with love as the core'

Although it wasn't progressive, the musical direction Uriah Heep took here was more clear than on their earlier albums. If you're a Heep fan, you will love this album, but there's nothing progressive enough to interest most of the readers on this website.

Review by kev rowland
4 stars Even though their live double album was doing well in the charts it wasn't long before taskmaster Gerry Bron had the boys back in the studio for their sixth studio album, their third with the same line-up. This was the first to be recorded away from Lansdowne Road, at the infamous 'Chateau Disaster' where Jethro Tull had attempted and then abandoned recording 'A Passion Play'. But even though the three weeks in the studio were fraught, in no small part due to David Byron's alcoholism, Ken Hensley's cocaine addiction and Gary Thain's heroin problems, the band again produced an album containing some fine songs. This seems to be one of theirs that is overlooked, but an album that starts with a song as powerful as "Dreamer" needs a second look. A gentle introduction from drummer Lee Kerslake, and Ken and Mick rip into it. The melodic vocals (and great falsettos) seem almost at odds with the way that Mick is throwing in the guitar lines. For all those who think that The Darkness are the saviours of modern rock (and admittedly they have done a lot to make long hair more fashionable), then put this one and turn it up and you will hear where they have taken much of their inspiration from.

But even though this is a great opener it isn't the most well-known song on the album, which belongs to the next cut, "Stealin'". Ken opens this by almost coaxing the gentle chords out to be laid against the strummed bass. Just a little gentle reverb on David's vocals, along with sweet harmonies the stage is set. Lee strokes the hi-hat, and then when the line "nothing left to save but my life" ends the guys join in and the song swaggers along. It is of no surprise that thirty years later it is still in the set list. But this album has more to offer than just two songs, and in "One Day" they have a song in their overbearing wonderful over eth top style with great vocals and the impression that here is a class act. The album originally closed with "Pilgrim" where falsetto vocal harmonies vie with piano for attention until Mick takes up the gauntlet. Yet again this reissue has been remastered by Rob Corich and has six extra cuts.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Uriah Heep's 6th full-length studio album 'Sweet Freedom' was released in 1973 and had the honor of following up what was UH's biggest two albums in their discography, 'Demons and Wizards' and 'The Magician's Birthday'. It also followed the release of the band's first live album 'Uriah Heep Live', which was released in April of 1973. This album would be the first album on the ever popular Warner Brothers label, and, unfortunately, we start to hear the heavier corporate influence, as the band starts to lean more on popular sounds and moving further away from progressive rock.

The line up during this immensely popular time in their history remained the same as it did for those two albums, and would continue to remain the same for the next album 'Wonderworld'. David Byron, the original lead vocalist, would continue to be the voice of the band, and of course there is the one constant member Mick Box, guitarist. Ken Hensley (keyboards, guitar) was also an original member and would continue until 1980 for the 'Conquest' album. Lee Kerslake (drums, percussion) had been around since the 'Demons and Wizards' album and would continue through the 'Fallen Angel' album until 1979. Gary Thain (bass) started around the same time as Kerslake, but would be replaced by John Wetton in 1975 on the 'Return to Fantasy' album. Things were going well for the band, and they wanted to try their hands at some new sounds (new to the band anyway) and try to win over even more fans. This, however, would be the slow decline of the band as they tried to bring in a more accessible sound. This album would end up being pretty much as big of a seller as the previous two albums and would feature the single 'Stealin'' which charted in 5 countries including the UK and US.

The album starts off with the funky scratch of 'Dreamer' written by Thain and Box. The track starts everything off with a heavy guitar riff that seems to be one of the band's heaviest, but the chorus has a definite accessible sound with most of the band harmonizing and the guitar ends up driving the song along with a hard rock sound. Right away, it drops the dark and deeper organ-heavy feel of the previous album. This is followed by the popular and familiar sound of the single 'Stealin'', which is a great track for a single. This is one of the many tracks written by Hensley. It is a bit quieter, on the first verse and chorus, with Byron's unmistakable, soulful voice and Hensley's heavy organ drenched riffs. Box gets to show of his catchy guitar on the middle instrumental break. So far, it seems the band has picked up a lot of enthusiasm and melodic sensibility from their successful time together with this powerful one-two punch.

'One Day' is co-written by Hensley and Thain. The hard-rock sound continues with the solid opening of the track, which continues to keep the solid power on high as the track continues. Byron's vocals sound more restrained on this track, probably just the way that the new big record label (for the band) Warner Brothers wanted, his vocals sounding very much like a confident and headlining vocal. But this is also where we start to see a slip in the band's quality, because a lot of their personality was in Byron's more vulnerable, soulful and emotional vocals, and the fact that so far, nothing as emotionally wrenching as 'Sunrise', 'Blind Eye' 'Echoes in the Dark' and 'Rain' has been made apparent on Sweet Freedom yet, and we're already almost through the first side of the album. The title track comes next, and is the longest track so far, at just over 6 minutes. Well, the organ and the vocals are sounding a bit more like the UH of before, but, it also seems to burn up a little bit of time just making crescendos out of repeating riffs. There is some style to this track, however, there isn't much substance, no daring organ or guitar solos that stand out, but there is a lot more standardized song structure, even in this longer track written solely by Hensley. It's an okay track, but just lacks anything memorable.

On to the 2nd side of the album, 'If I Had the Time', written by Hensley, starts off with thick organ and synth playing a riff that repeats and then softens before Byron's vocals start, this time with more promise of a more emotional melody. After each verse, the synth riff repeats and follows this pattern for a second verse, then goes into a heavier bridge, but the synths stay in control through the track, repeating that same riff. Though the song has a more memorable melody, the track still offers no real substance and no progressiveness. The guitar finally comes in during the last minute, the band becoming full before quickly fading out. 'Seven Stars' is another one by Hensely, more upbeat, but still melodic and pretty basic. The organ and rhythm guitar pretty much guide this one along, but again, the track is quite simple. When Byron runs out of lyrics, he starts reciting the alphabet to the melody. 'Circus' has an acoustic feel with a jazz edge, it has a nice, mellow vibe to it, and Byron's vocals match it quite well, restrained and soft. It's a better track, just short. It's obvious that there are different songwriter influences on this one as Thain, Box and Kerslake have the credits for this one. The longest track 'Pilgrim' is saved for last. Co-written by Hensley and Byron, it is probably the best track on the album, and is more reminiscent of material on 'The Magician's Birthday. It's just too bad they had to wait until the end of the album to really let loose. There is a full on assault of keys and guitar to start this one off, and it sounds a bit more like the UH of earlier times. Even the funky scratch of the guitar sounds good, and the high pitched synth riff that plays during the vocal breaks has the typical UH sound. Byron gets a chance to show off his vocal abilities, which doesn't happen enough on this album. After a few verses, the music becomes darker with some excellent organ and guitar work. Finally, Box gets to let loose after being pretty much muted through most of the album. Best track on the album, which totally does justice for the talent involved in this band. Too bad music like this wasn't present through the rest of the album.

On the 1996 remaster, two more tracks were added, an outtake called 'Silver White Man' written by Byron, and 'Crystal Ball' written by Thain. Both tracks are outtakes recorded earlier, but not used previously on an album. Both are quite standard tracks, 'Crystal Ball' being a little more interesting, but neither track really adding anything more to the album.

The 2004 Expanded Deluxe Edition does not have these two added tracks, but instead adds 6 more tracks to the album. First is 'Sunshine' which is a non-album b-side from 'Stealin' single. Co-written by Thain and Box, the track is heavier, and sounds more like something from 'The Magician's Birthday', though it would have fit on this album much better than some of the other tracks, but it is a bit repetitive at the end. After this, there is an extended version of 'Seven Stars', which boosts the album version from 4 minutes to 7 minutes, but it only adds more repetition and alphabet singing. Another extended version follows, this time of 'Pilgrim', which adds another minute and a half to the track. This was already the best track on the album, but this longer version makes it even better with added organ and guitar work in the extended instrumental section. Next there is a demo version of 'If I Had the Time'. This stripped down version features Thain and Byron singing together, and it is actually better that the album version. The last two tracks are alternative live versions of 'Sweet Freedom' and 'Stealin'.

It's a shame that the music of Uriah Heep started to see a slow decline in their music from this point on, for quite some time. The move to a more accessible sound is apparent, and the album remains mostly unremarkable until the last two tracks. The deluxe edition definitely adds to the album and is the version that should be acquired if you are looking to buy the album. 'Pilgrim' is the definite highlight to the album, and 'Circus' is great, but too short. The one thing that is obvious here, that the real star was Byron, and he was unfortunately not put to the best use here as most of the songs didn't highlight his vocal abilities. I think if not for the untimely death of Byron in 1985, he might have become better known as one of the best of the classic rock vocalists. As for this album, however, there are better ones out there, this one averages out to 3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars A blend of softer Heavy Prog (than on LOOK AT YOURSELF) and of still cosmic flavoured, but more mainstream rock`n`roll, SWEET FREEDOM is a half-decent effort from a progressive rock point of view, but an excellent addition to any (eclectic) music lover collection, period... The two opening trac ... (read more)

Report this review (#1451136) | Posted by CHOM_97_7_Av_105_9 | Monday, August 10, 2015 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After the controversial "The Magician's Birthday" Uriah Heep tightened up their sound on "Sweet Freedom", which is more akin to "Look at Yourself" with some of "Magician"'s flavor. I find this to be a stronger album, but not without its flaws. As they return to their artsy/heavy formula, they seem ... (read more)

Report this review (#424784) | Posted by PinkFloydManiac1973 | Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Technically speaking there is nothing wrong with this album. Technically no, but music is not something you can touch and admire how well is crafted , you also have to feel it or feel something while you listening . And that's the main problem I have with this album. I don't feel nothing special ... (read more)

Report this review (#372697) | Posted by Archangel | Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is much more moving away from that overly proggy sound that Uriah Heep had been chasing for the past few albums. There is still an awesome amount of prog on this one, but it's not as strong. The lyrics are not as abstract, but some moments seem to fit perfectly with Demon's and Wi ... (read more)

Report this review (#255627) | Posted by Rushlover13 | Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars now this album ive only just got into and uriah heep for that matter,but i love this especially the tracks stealin,and sweet freedom,i just love how stealin gets going and carrys on i always play this song twice and the vocals are addictive to well eveythings addictive and the organ is really wh ... (read more)

Report this review (#214336) | Posted by davidsporle | Friday, May 8, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Musically this is an very good heavy prog album. Once again Mick Box proves that he is an undersung guitar hero playing blazing leads, wah wah guitar and heavy riffs with remarkable proficiency. Hell, he shreds. Ken Hensley and the rest of the boys are in top form as well. The music is heavy, ye ... (read more)

Report this review (#161748) | Posted by Tylosand Ektorp | Thursday, February 14, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fantasy is gone, at least for awhile, until Wetton's advent, but the band was incredibly able to manage to a new direction, and Hensley's songwriting machine put out a new wave of classics. Sweet Freedom has returned to the melodic sound of D&W, moving from the heavy conceptual work in Magi ... (read more)

Report this review (#98466) | Posted by Grimble Crumble | Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3,5 stars really Pretty good album, more melodic even accoustic than previous albums, with very good vocals from our hero Lord Byron. driving bass and drum,and of course the Heep trademarks are all over the compositions, exciting high screaming guitars, the Heep choir doing OOOOHHHH AAAhh. ... (read more)

Report this review (#94668) | Posted by tuxon | Sunday, October 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Magic has gone. The sixt album of Uriah Heep is for die-hard fans only. Nothing can be found here of great interest. It's also agreed by themselves as their following live album doesn't contain anything from 'Sweet Freedom. We'll have to wait for 'Return to Fantasy' ... (read more)

Report this review (#60198) | Posted by Hermanes | Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album disappointed me on the first listenings. There are however some interesting and good material on this album if you look closer. "Stealin'" is horrible and the rest of side one sounds like bad copies of earlier Uriah Heep material. The good material can be found on the second side of ... (read more)

Report this review (#39337) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is classic Heep make no mistake. Things went amazingly dodgy after this album , and any comparisons between this and the following 'Wonderworld' should make any sensible music fan laugh (although admittedly 'Wonderworld' does have 2 or 3 good tracks). This is a highly polished, very melod ... (read more)

Report this review (#31321) | Posted by | Sunday, February 6, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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