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Uriah Heep - Sweet Freedom CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

3.45 | 337 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

Chicapah | 2/5 |


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