A return to form by the classic rockers.
Released by: Frontiers Music s.r.l.
Release Date: Out Now
Genre: Classic Rock, Progressive Rock
Mick Box: Guitar, Vocals
Phil Lanzon: Keyboards, Vocals
Bernie Shaw: Lead Vocals
Russell Gilbrook: Drums, Vocals
Dave Rimmer: Bass, Vocals
1. Grazed By Heaven
2. Living The Dream
3. Take Away My Soul
4. Knocking At My Door
5. Rocks In The Road
6. Waters Flowin’
7. It’s All Been Said
8. Goodbye To Innocence
9. Falling Under Your Spell
10. Dreams Of Yesteryear
URIAH HEEP first debuted in 1970, and have been one of the hardest working bands in rock ever since, having sold in excess of 40 million albums worldwide, performed an average of 125 shows per year, and still found time to produce a massive catalogue of albums spanning 4 decades. This highly influential band pioneered intelligent song writing in a heavy metal context, earning them the nickname ‘The Beach Boys of Heavy Metal’, as well as being forerunners in the use of the Hammond organ and running the lead guitar through a Wah-Wah pedal, which formed the backbone of their signature sound. Now they are back with new album Living the Dream. Discussing the album, founding member and guitarist Mick Box added, “We have been together for years and we have seen many bands come and go, so in effect we are ‘Still Living The Dream,’ so it was the perfect title for the new album.” According to Vocalist Bernie Shaw, listeners should be prepared for, “A full blown ‘rockin’ URIAH HEEP record. All the traits that made HEEP famous in the past are here on this new album. Passion, power, harmony and substance. HEEP trade marks from the first riff.” However whenever you have rock n’ roll veterans like URIAH HEEP, who have been together nearly fifty years, announce a new album, there are always the inevitable questions – Do they still have it? Can they bring anything new to the table? Is this just going to be a nostalgia trip?
Well I can assure you that with new album Living The Dream, URIAH HEEP have surprised us all with an album that has surpassed all expectations and is easily the best music they have produced since the 1970s. That is no small feat when you consider this is the 25th studio album for the band that first formed in London back in 1969. Opening with their first single off the album, “Grazed By Heaven” you get a strong sense that the band is committed to this being a solid classic rock album. With lyrics for the band by Sons of Apollo frontman Jeff Scott Soto and the music composed by Rimmer, Jeff suggested “The song is clearly about sexual tension and desire, very much in the form of ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, putting oneself at ease with the person who is taking control of the situation and trusting you will be in absolute bliss. Fantasy and lust is the calling card here; it’s quite black and white, really. The song is very sexy so naturally called for a sexy lyric.” While Rimmer added, “‘Grazed’ was born out of my desire to write a blazing HEEP rock track. I put together the music and arrangement but needed a very strong melody line/lyric to match the music and the riff… I have been a fan of Jeff Scott Soto’s voice and writing for many years so asked Jeff about a collaboration. He loved the song and came up with the perfect and powerful lyric/melody… a very natural seamless collaboration between Jeff and I. A true ‘Living The Dream’ moment for me.” Featuring roaring guitar riffs and that amazing Hammond organ sound, it truly is a brilliant opening to the album.
Title track “Living The Dream” sits somewhere nicely between AOR and progressive rock, and underlines the inspiration behind the album, with Box adding, “I knew that I would be a musician all my life, but I never thought that I would play in the same band all those years, and I’m still as passionate about our music as we used to be,” says the guitarist. “And that passion gives me the energy for more live shows and new albums.” Expanding further, Box added, “We were lucky, some of our songs have survived the ravages of time, and hopefully that will be the case with the songs of Living the Dream.” The latest single off the album, “Take Away My Soul” is an inspired track, with the Mick Box’s superb guitar-work driving the song along.
“Knocking At My Door” and “Goodbye to Innocence” are fantastic rapid-fire hard rock songs, with Gilbrook’s priceless machinegun bass drumming mimicking a fast knock at the door during the chorus of “Knocking At My Door” giving a nod to the band’s dry sense of humour. One of the stand-out tracks on the album for any URIAH HEEP fan has to be “Rocks in the Road”, which stretches out over nearly eight-and-a-half minutes. With its broad instrumental sections, artistic Hammond organ melodies, and an infectious rhythm that ebbs and flows throughout the track, it is brought to the gates of Prog heaven by Shaw’s soulful vocals powerfully driving the song home. Opening with a melodic acoustic and orchestral arrangement, “Waters Flowin’” illustrates why URIAH HEEP are the kings of storytelling songs, harkening back to classics like “Lady In Black” and “The Wizard”, which is a personal favourite of mine. “It’s All Been Said” is another one for the Prog aficionados, extending out to six minutes of multi-layered, guitar, double bass, and dominated by a mix of Hammond organ, synths and piano provided by Phil Lanzon, this ballad allows Shaw’s vocals to truly shine. “Falling Under Your Spell” sounds as though it was ripped straight from their early back catalogue, and yet is packaged up in a fresh and invigorated sound that is truly irresistible. And rounding off the album is “Dreams of Yesteryear” which is a true instant classic. The composition of this track is outstanding, and it holds up against the very best that AOR has to offer. It’s a fantastic end to a great album.
Produced by renowned Canadian recording engineer Jay Ruston, who has worked with the likes of The Winery Dogs, Stone Sour, Black Star Riders, and Europe, the album has all the qualities of the classic URIAH HEEP sound from the 70s reinterpreted with a very modern sound. Discussing working with Jay, Mick Box added that it, “was amazing! He totally understood what we were going for on this album and he delivered big time. We wanted a HEEP album that the band and the fans would be proud of, and with Jay at the helm, we have delivered that.” With superb production values and a big, live sound, Living The Dream never fails to disappoint, with track after track of pure classic rock bliss. Fans new and old will be delighted to get their hands on this album, and I dare say, they could recruit many new ones as the singles hit the airwaves. I admit I had my own doubts about this album before I had the chance to properly listen to it, and I offer my humble apology to the band. If URIAH HEEP were out to prove they still got it, then Living the Dream is a resounding success. It is an instant classic and deserves as much praise as can be lavished upon it.
Written by: Erik De’Viking
My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist
Erik De’Viking is a freelance music journalist based in the South of England. His musical interests include rock and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.
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