|Uriah Heep - 'Into The Wild' (Frontiers Records)|
|Written by Ian Bell|
|Friday, 08 April 2011 05:30|
At a time when, according to the UK press, all things rock and loud in the music scene are apparently showing a downward trend on the popularity scale I am already struggling for the end of year polls, as the number of top notch albums already released in the first three months of this year is quickly catching up with the entire twelve months of 2010, and this continues for me with this release from Da Heep. 'Into The Wild' is a bonafide slab of classic British rock that should finally see the respect long deserved and overdue in the band's 42 year existence finally being awarded. For too long Uriah Heep have been seen as the nearly men (in Britain at least, they are of course arena fillers still in other markets) of rock, roots firmly planted in the glory days of the 70s but often they are seen unfairly as the poor relation or a working man's Dungeons and Dragons Deep Purple.
I was first enticed into the world of Uriah Heep in 1988 at the Manchester Apollo simply because The Dogs D'amour were their support act, and my musical knowledge of their back catalogue at that time probably only consisted of tracks from classic rock compilation albums which normally consisted of the track 'Gypsy' from their debut 'Very 'eavy Very 'umble' and also W.A.S.P.'s stab at 'Easy Livin'. But after leaving the Apollo that night I did then delve into their catalogue and discovered other classics such as 'The Wizard', 'Free n Easy', 'Sunrise', 'July Morning', and 'Lady In Black'. To this day I still have the fan club issued 'Moscow' commemorative shirt celebrating the fact that Da Heep had just become the first Western 'rock' band to play in Soviet Russia under Gorbachev's glasnost policy and have kept a watchful distance ever since.
'Into The Wild' is studio album twenty three for the band and continues the fine form initiated with 'Wake The Sleeper' released in 2008. Opening track 'Nail On The Head' is a modern classic rock track that is the perfect opener with its big riff and easily sung-along lyrics and chorus a million miles away from fantasyland, which shows that Uriah Heep aren't treading water but have something to offer the modern world and this track will surely become a firm live favourite. Bernie Shaw's vocals as they do throughout the album really stand out and are at times Gillan-esque at his fighting best. 'I Can See You' is another radio juke box friendly number to get the foot tapping with a melodic multi layered chorus being the first nod to the band's roots with the supporting role of the big ole Hammond. It's not until we reach 'Trail Of Diamonds' do we really steer a course back to Prog-land, but again it acts as a showcase for not only Shaw's excellent vocals but a band at the top of their game.
Put simply if you like your classic rock and are a fan of 70s organ drenched rock you will love this, and I will go as far as to say "you should own this". 'Into The Wild' may not change the face of rock music in 2011 but it does drag the classic rock sound of the 70s somewhere closer to the here and now and Uriah Heep have not shelved their ethos and style and have remained true to themselves, this is the sound of them showing an awareness of the changing musical landscape.
The current line up consists of Mick Box (guitars, vocals), Trevor Bolder (bass, vocals), Russell Gilbrook (drums, vocals), Phil Lanzon (keyboards, vocals), and Bernie Shaw (lead vocals) and with exception of the drum stool (Lee Kerslake left due to health reasons in 2007) this line up have now been together for 25 years, and will be touring extensively in support of 'Into The Wild'. So if you want to hear a legendary band at the top of their game both as a recording unit and in the live arena, you know what to do...........it just makes sense.