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Uriah Heep - Look At Yourself CD (album) cover

LOOK AT YOURSELF

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

4.12 | 641 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
5 stars From the late Sixties the powerful and distinctive Hammond organ emerged in the world of rock and prog, because it turned out to be the perfect counterpart for the loud electric guitar. Unfortunately HELP (Hendrix + ELP) remained a captivating musical idea, but we could enjoy great interplay between the Hammond organ and electric guitar in the pivotal bands Vanilla Fudge, Atomic Rooster, Deep Purple and, my personal favorite, Uriah Heep. For me their third release Look At Yourself is a Heavy Prog masterpiece, so pivotal and without one weak composition. At the start of the Look At Yourself studio sessions, Uriah Heep decided that they wanted no longer be a 'pseudo prog band' but really rock. Well, they did, with Ken Hensley and Davids Byron as the excellent tunesmiths. This review is based upon my Look At Yourself BMG 2-CD version, from 2017.

Disc 1: Original LP remastered.

1. Look At Yourself (5.10) : Building on the compelling Gypsy sound from their first album, Ken and David invented their improved Heavy-Prog-Formula, the opener Look At Yourself epitomizes that new Uriah Heep trademark sound: floods of Hammond organ, often wah-wah drenched electric guitar and the distinctive David Byron vocals, in an up-tempo beat with a propulsive rhythm section. In the second part Uriah Heep delivers a brilliant musical surprise: members of the Afrobeat band Osibisa with their exotic percussion sound, gradually the electric instruments take it over, culminating in a bombastic and very exiting atmosphere, what a start!

2. I Wanna Be Free (4.02) : In this piece Uriah Heep rocks again, with great tension between the mellow and heavy parts, topped by the distinctive David Byron vocals (high pitched and slightly theatrical), powerful slide guitar and thunderous drums.

3. July Morning (10.35) : This is Uriah Heep their most progressive and captivating composition, soon it also became a stage favorite. The Hammond organ intro is legendary, like in Child In Time, A Whiter Shade Of Pale and With A Little Bit Help From My Friends. Then a compelling changing of climates, between bombastic and mellow, Hensley his Hammond work is awesome and colours the music wonderfully. Halfway a churchy Hammond solo and then a mindblowing build-up, featuring great vocals and wah-wah guitar. The final part includes a long and spectcular Minimoog solo (by Manfred Mann), goose bumps, this is classic Heavy Prog!

4. Tears In My Eyes (5.01) : A more guitar-oriented track: an up-tempo beat, strong vocals and howling slide guitar runs and powerful due-guitarplay. In the second part we hear some propulsive acoustic rhythm guitar, another captivating musical idea that adds an extra dimension.

5. Shadows Of Grief (8.41) : A long composition with a dark and bombastic atmosphere featuring powerful Hammond layers and fiery wah-wah guitar, accompanied by a furious rhythm-section. The final part sounds like walking on a graveyard, pretty ominous with powerful vocals and slightly psychedelic overtones.

6. What Should Be Done (4.14) : Uriah Heep wanted to slow down and delivered this beautiful ballad, with tender piano and warm vocals, gradually subtle guitar joins. A lovely mellow song, the other side of Uriah Heep tastes very good.

7. Love Machine (3.38) : The final track is another Uriah Heep trademark song: up-tempo rock, loaded with powerful Hammond and wah-wah guitar, the interplay is exciting and Byron shines with his typical vocals, what a very strong way to finish the album!

Disc 2: An alternate Look At Yourself (all tracks previously unreleased).

This bonus CD contains all studio tracks, with the socalled 'alternative mixing'. This means slightly different versions, nice but not really worth mentioning, except the acoustic guitar and piano in July Morning. Also included is the Look At Yourself single (edit version), even without the long percussion break very strong. More interesting are the two compositions that were found on the Lansdowne Tapes (released in 1993, including 1969-1971 Uriah Heep material). First the romantic ballad What's Within My Heart (5.34) with twanging acoustic guitar and beautiful vocals, the other side of David Byron his distinctive powerful and high pitched vocals, and I like it! Then second Why Fourteen Minutes (hilarious title) that sounds like a pleasant extended (very extended!) jam session: first dreamy mellow Hammond and hypnotizing volume pedal and wah wah guitar, then gradually a catchy, mellow mid-tempo beat with soli on Hammond, guitar and drums. The vocals in this long but entertaining track are with a bluesy undertone. The most interesting bonus track is a 1971 live version of July Morning, average bootleg quality but nice to listen how it sounded, almost embryonal, without Minimoog but still very compelling with the omnipresent Hammond organ and biting guitarplay in the second part. The 20-page booklet includes extensive liner notes, interviews with the band and nice pictures.

On a July evening 2017 I witnessed the Look At Yourself Anniversary tour in The Netherlands, the gig in Alkmaar was completely sold out. The crowd went euphoric, especially when Uriah Heep played all seven tracks from Look At Yourself. We were in the realm of Heavy Prog and Uriah Heep ruled!

P.s.: This one is for you Louis, you made a dream come true, thanks!

TenYearsAfter | 5/5 |

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