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Uriah Heep - Sweet Freedom CD (album) cover

SWEET FREEDOM

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

3.44 | 343 ratings

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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").

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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