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Ken Hensley - The Anthology CD (album) cover


Ken Hensley


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3.96 | 5 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Golden bronze

While "The anthology" is a highly enjoyable compilation, the title is somewhat misleading. Hensley was of course principal songwriter, keyboard player, second guitarist and back up vocalist with Uriah Heep during their glory years in the 1970s. You will not however find any Uriah Heep tracks here (apart from a solo interpretation of "Rain"). Nor will you find anything from Hensley's time with Toe Fat, The Gods or Blackfoot. These tracks are all taken from Hensley's solo albums. Even then, while Ken has released a good number of albums in his own name, only his first three solo releases, recorded for Bronze records, contribute tracks to this collection.

The period covered is thus somewhat limited, starting in the mid-70's and ending when he left Uriah Heep in 1980. On the plus side, this means that each of the three albums is well represented by between five and seven tracks. Hensley's first solo effort, "Proud words on a dusty shelf" is afforded the most space, with no less than six of the ten tracks on the album being included. As a whole, this was very much a Uriah Heep album in all but name, the songs generally being ones which were offered to the band, but which did not make the final cut with them. It is a shame that "Black hearted lady" and "The last time" were left out, as these are fine Hensley ballads. We do though get to hear again two of Hensley's most progressive numbers, "Fortune" and "When evening comes" being classic songs by any standard. I would also recommend "From time to time" which features an early display of Ken's talents on synthesiser.

The five tracks from "Eager to please" are curious selections, especially in view of the omission of the superb title track and the wonderful brass fuelled "Stargazer" from that album. I do not question the quality of the tracks which have been chosen, but they do not represent the balance and flavour of the album well.

"Free spirit", released at a time when Ken was enduring great stress in relation to his career, was a more patchy affair. The tracks here are a reasonable cross section of the album, but the desire to get something out is all too apparent in some of the songs and in the abridged nature of the overall product.

Overall, this is a decent summary of Ken's first three solo albums, and as such offers a cost effective way of dipping a toe in the water of the early part of his solo career. One should be aware when listening to the set though, that it merely skims the surface in terms of what Hensley has achieved musically over the decades.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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