Frontiers [Release date 14.09.18]
We really have no right to expect – in 2018 – a tremendously vital album from a “heritage” band with an average age of 60 and who celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2019. But that’s exactly what Uriah Heep have delivered.
Fans will appreciate that ‘Living The Dream’ covers all Heep bases from Deep Purple-esque hard rock (‘Grazed By Heaven’, ‘Goodbye To Innocence’) to seventies-style prog (‘Rocks In The Road’).
There’s a real energy, though, and a zest for music making that can sometimes be lacking with an ageing franchise. This is all the more creditable given that the band line-up has been fairly constant since 2007. Surely it can’t just be”new boy” Dave Rimmer (49 years young) making the difference?
There’s a lot to like about this album whether it’s Mick Box’s copious wah-wah flourishes, Phi Lanzon’s hoary Hammond magic or the genial Bernie Shaw’s splendid vocals.
In places, ‘Living The Dream’ really rocks – ‘Take Away My Soul’ being a prime example – along with ‘Knocking At My Door’.
The album only dips a little on the ballad ‘Water Flowin” which, in the context of the rest of the proceedings, is a little bit naff. Ditto album closer ‘Dreams Of Yesteryear’ which may become the new show-finale anthem for the faithful but exposes Mick Box’s weakness when away from the wah-wah pedal.
For the faithful, though, ‘It’s All Been Said’ connects with classic Heep of ‘July Morning’ -era whilst ‘Falling Under Your Spell’ could be a ‘Demons And Wizards’ outtake tarted up for millennium ears.
It’s a shame that the Heep live set list continues to revolve around the same predictable career “highlights” and only a handful of “new” tunes are played (or indeed anything from after the 1970s). For example only ‘One Minute’ and ‘The Law’ survive from their previous outing in 2014 but fine albums such as ‘Wake The Sleeper’ and ‘Into The Wild’ are never touched.
Maybe Heep are now merely playing to the converted – who will nevertheless be well pleased – but to their credit ‘Living The Dream’ remains wholly relevant to any rock audience, young or old. On the eve of their 50th anniversary, an unexpected triumph. ****
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 20 September 2020.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 22 September 2020.
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