March 5, 2010

Uriah Heep-Celebration: 40 Years of Rock Review

40 years of rock, that adds up to a sizable amount of music, shows and hotel rooms. Uriah Heep still carries on after all these years and they can dig in, give their fans a great show, and produce great studio albums. In 2008, Wake The Sleeper was an excellent return to form. Now we have Celebration-40 Years of Rock to commemorate their long-standing success as one of the progenitors of prog-metal.

Mick Box (guitar, vocals), Bernie Shaw ( lead vocals), Trevor Bolder (bass, vocals), Phil Lanzon (keyboards, vocals) and Russell Gilbrook (percussion, vocals) are the current lineup and do a fine job of making their way through the classic Heep catalog that are most recognized throughout the world as their signature tracks.

By now, longtime fans have adopted Bernie Shaw as the official vocalist but will always remember the original voice of the band David Byron. I think his presence comes to mind on soaring numbers like ‘The Wizard” where the high vocals parts are unobtainable for the current front man. I must give Shaw credit however because he has impressed me over the years as a real showman and you can tell he has taken the Heep catalog to heart and he delivers every song with energy and personality.

Along with new versions of all these songs come the obligatory new tracks to sweeten the pie. The album kicks off with “Only Human”, a track the gives you a glimpse at the present day Uriah Heep and then “Corridors of Madness” has a heavier prog flavor that lets you know that they still have it and shows how at times they can reach back for that something extra to sound like they did in their prime. If you are fan that goes back to the 70’s like myself, you realize that this sounds like an entirely different band, with the exception of Mick Box on guitar, the last surviving original member that holds the whole thing together. I do still love them as I always have but you still cannot top albums like the 1972 releases Demons and Wizards and Magician’s Birthday, those days are gone forever. These great albums defined their sound and still have some mileage left in them, just listen to this release.

I can accept the fact that several musicians have come, gone, and passed away and releases like this continue to give their legacy credibility and invite a new audience to appreciate their past and help them to discover more of the recent work.

Celebration-40 Years of Rock is nice combination of the old and new, a refreshing reminder of what once was and never will be, yet a wakeup call that what you are hearing is a great band that still knows how to rock only as Uriah Heep can.

4/5 Stars

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

March 4, 2010

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