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URIAH HEEP Living The Dream

By Jay Roberts, Massachusetts Contributor
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 @ 8:50 AM

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Living The Dream

Frontiers Music Srl - 2018

After what seems like a lifetime of not really paying much attention to the music of URIAH HEEP, 2014 found me becoming a huge fan of their Outsider album. I loved it and had it in my year end best of list. It's been four years since that album and now comes the studio album follow up Living The Dream. I was very curious to figure out how this one would stack up with Outsider and whether or not I would still find myself lured in by the band's incredible mix of high energy rocking guitars and keyboards.

I shouldn't have worried, because URIAH HEEP did it once again! While the majority of the music is written by guitarist Mick Box and keyboardist Phil Lanzon, the album opens with the one song they had no hand in composing. "Grazed By Heaven" was written by bassist Dave Rimmer and multi-band performer Jeff Scott Soto and it was a knock out track from the start. It's got a quite heavy musical soundtrack and with the vocals from singer Bernie Shaw, everything really comes together nicely to get the album off on the right foot. Speaking of Shaw, his vocals are outstanding throughout Living The Dream, something I'm really glad for since I enjoyed his vocal sound so much on the previous album.

At first, I wasn't all that into the title track. The first couple of minutes of the song are a bit measured and methodical in terms of pacing and I guess I thought it held things back a bit. But after a few listens, the song not only grows on you, you get a fuller grasp on the more epic nature of the sound employed throughout the cut.

There's some kind of odd undercurrent on "Knocking At My Door" that manages to up the intensity of the song musically. There's a bit of a paranoid feel to the lyrics, at least to me, that gives the song a haunting kind of gothic feel to it as well.

I particularly enjoyed the songs where both the rock guitar and keyboards blended so effortlessly as to give each song that much more of a fuller musical landscape to play upon. The music blazes bright and hot on "Falling Under Your Spell" and there's such a strong kicking groove to the romp that is "Goodbye To Innocence" that you can't help but like it. The latter song's lyrics are thick with sexual overtones but also show the band being able to craft strongly written words that don't seem as if they are out of bounds.

I wasn't sold on the inclusion of a bunch of repetitious "na-na" lyrics in "Waters Flowin'" but otherwise, the song was quite grandiose in scope. The track started off rather slow before a more vibrantly rocking sound kicks in. The lyrics and the vocal performance of them was superb. Meanwhile, the slow, somewhat placid main lyrical passages on "It's All Been Said" were a bit of a drag until a far more demanding sound palate was added for the song's chorus.

"Dreams Of Yesterday" has interesting back and forth going on lyrically. The song starts off as a bit of a nostalgic look back at days gone by but also throws in some real hope for the future to come. Given the decades long career that URIAH HEEP has had, it's nice to see that they have a grasp on their past and what they think could be the future.

I should mention that guitarist Mick Box remains a potent musical force. Seriously! I know that I'm a newcomer in terms of fandom but the riffs this guy is playing are flat out awesome.

I think the band shines brightest on a couple of tracks in particular. "Take Away My Soul" is the first one. I think the song (of which there's an alternate version of at the end of the disc) is the perfect encapsulation of everything the band is about. Highly charged rock and roll fueled by both Box's guitars and Lanzon's keys, with a slamming rhythm from drummer Russell Gillbrook and bassist Dave Rimmer backing that up along with Shaw's soaring vocal take. There's some great lyrical concepts on the song as well. The second song is "Rocks In The Road" and along with a really great chorus, I found that the whole song tended to resonate with me strongly on a personal level. Also, given that the song runs for just over eight minutes, I have to say it didn't feel that way. While the last lyrical verse found the band hitting the breaks a bit in terms of tempo, the outro for the song kicked back into a higher gear and finished off with a resounding effect overall. It's a killer rock track, period.

When reviewing Outsider, I concluded that URIAH HEEP laid waste to the notion that they were too old to rock and roll having thrown their hat into the ring for consideration as album of the year. I hate to sound like a broken record, but URIAH HEEP has quite successfully crafted a worthy follow up to Outsider and will once again be in the running for that particular designation. Living The Dream is the kind of album most bands can only hope to achieve no matter how long their career lasts.

4.7 Out Of 5.0

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