Album review: URIAH HEEP – Outsider

In this interview extract, Bernie discusses the album making process (7:39)

The feature version of the interview will be broadcast in the first hour of David Randall’s weekly radio show, Sunday 8 June, at 22:00 GMT.

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Uriah Heep - Outsider

Frontiers [Release date 06.06.14]

Uriah Heep have had their ups and downs since debut “Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble” was released back in 1970 with the Rolling Stone magazine’s review famously stating that “If this group makes it I’ll have to commit suicide. From the first note you know you don’t want to hear any more”…well they got it wrong…44 years later the band, under Mick Box’s ever present leadership, are still going strong.

“Outsider” is their 24th studio album and their first since long time bassist Trevor Bolder passed away in May 2013 – Dave Rimmer joins as replacement. The rest of the line up is unchanged with Mick Box on guitars, Bernie Shaw on vocals, Phil Lanzon on keyboards and Russell Gilbrook on drums.

For the first few seconds after pressing play I thought that I’d started a Thirty Seconds To Mars album by mistake due to the opening bass and drum patterns on display…but then that distinctive organ kicked in and Uriah Heep were back! Said track Speed of Sound opens as “Outsider” means to go on…very catchy and commercial in feel.

One Minute starts all atmospheric with vocals and piano only and then almost turns into another song when the organ and guitars kick in. The Law kicks off with some heavy riffing and features some good old-fashioned Uriah Heep backing vocal “aaahhhs” throughout. Mick Box really lets loose on his first real guitar solo.

Russell Gilbrook’s drums really drive The Outsider along at a fair old pace…a short and sweet number with a very abrupt ending.

Rock The Foundation is a very catchy number but in my opinion is let down by the lyrics in the chorus. Is Anybody Gonna Help Me? has an epic feel to it and is again organ heavy.

Looking At You, Can’t Take That Away, Kiss The Rainbow, Say Goodbye the standard rarely drops…

The most commercial number on here has to be Jessie featuring a Ronnie James Dio feel to the verse lyrics (Rock’n’Roll Children springs to mind)…the chorus just buries itself into your head and refuses to leave…

Everything you love about Uriah Heep is here – upfront Hammond organ throughout (Phil Lanzon deserves a special mention for this), Mick Box’s guitar playing, the melody and the background vocals with the distinctive “aaaahhhhs”…

A real grower this one as I wasn’t sure about it for the first few plays…but stick with it and the quality shines through. One to treasure as youthful Mr. Box is no spring chicken anymore…67 on June 9th 2014…  ****

Review by Phil Berisford

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