Following the GRTR! reviewers’ choice for ‘Best of 2018′ Top Album, David Randall chatted to Phil Lanzon at the start of Uriah Heep’s UK tour in December 2018. First broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio.
Phil Lanzon Ditties/Cargo Records [Release date 23.02.18]
Uriah Heep’s keyboards player Phil Lanzon (who has also been a member the Sweet and Grand Prix amongst others), releases his debut solo album and if you like orchestral themed melodic rock you will be in for a treat!
Helping him out musically are John Mitchell (Frost*/Arena/Lonely Robot/Kino) – who also takes lead vocals on some of the songs – drummer Craig Blundell (Lonely Robot/Steven Wilson), bassist Laurence Cottle (ex-Black Sabbath) and Richard Cottle, who helped create the wonderful choral and orchestral back drops.
Opener ‘Mind Over Matter’ sounds like It Bites at times, mainly as John Mitchell sings on this one, and it is the first taste of the melodic/pomp musical backing created by Phil Lanzon’s keys, along with Richard Cottle.
A little bit of the trademark Heep Hammond playing can be heard on the uplifting ‘I Knew I Was Dreaming’, again featuring John Mitchell on vocals. It is musically reminiscent of Supertramp and Mike + The Mechanics.
‘Kelly Gang’ is based on the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly and Phil Lanzon takes the vocal spot on this one. Producer Simon Hanhart has worked with Asia in the past and ‘Kelly Gang’ has more than a hint of the Asia sound about it.
Being a solo album it allows Phil Lanzon to explore musical avenues he may not be able to with Uriah Heep, plus he has avoided the temptation of having fellow band members guesting which can often mean a solo album sounds like the band. The country feel of ‘I Saw Two Englands’ something a bit different. The song features a wonderful bit of pedal steel guitar playing.
The most Heep tune on here is the instrumental ‘Step Overture’, again mainly in the Hammond/keys sound. Would make a good opening song at a live show. ’Donna & Joe’ recalls those big 70′s production numbers that artists like John Miles and Alan Parsons were masters of. In fact 70′s revivalists Cats In Space would enjoy doing a song like this.
The album’s epic song ‘Forest’ allows a little prog into the proceedings… There are plenty of keys on this one, including some tasty Hammond runs, with the choral arrangements set to max! A perfect piece of pomp/prog rock to end a very enjoyable album chock full of melodies and instrumental passages to keep the listener engrossed for many repeated listens.
Often solo albums can get buried due to the lack of the musician’s main band’s clout and fan base actually being aware of the release, however hopefully this won’t happen here. Phil Lanzon has created an album that will appeal to those who enjoy melodic rock, pomp rock and songs with an emphasis on melody. ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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