I have about 5 projects I need to focus on right now. But the urgency of the latest Uriah Heep album compels me to deal with it. Now.
Yeah, THAT Uriah Heep. And before you dismiss the band and the fact that Mick Box is the only original member left, keep in mind that Bernie Shaw has been the singer for 37 years. Think about that for just a moment: a good portion of you ain’t been alive that long. Keyboardist, Phil Lanzon has also been around that long…since 1986!
Bassist Dave Rimmer is a BEAST, and may be the best, most singular bass player Heep has had since Gary Thain. And I’m aware I’ve stepping all over monster players as such John Wetton, Trevor Bolder, Bob Daisley and original-banger Paul Newton.
Drummer Russell Gilbrook is the best percussionist they’re ever had. No slight to Lee Kerslake, but he was an emotional anchor and fan-favorite who never pretended to have the chops of Gilbrook. The new guy (since 2007, so 15 years!) is kinda like have Gavin Harrison (King Crimson, Porcupine Tree) on-hand.
Look, I get it. Over a generation has done a hard-pass on Heep, except for a swell of dedicated, heartfelt fans who will never let go of the magic of this band. I’m one of ’em. But that was mostly old Uriah Heep, and honestly, not much of the newer stuff resonated with me. That kinda changed in 2002, when they released The Magicians Birthday Party DVD. But the (at the time) new stuff seemed to miss the mark by having good/great songs on so-so albums.
But still, the fanbase seemed to grow after a series of pretty-good live albums. They seemed content to ride Classic Rock purgatory out by becoming a (very) formidable road/touring band. Like any self-respecting novice band whose members are in their 20’s. 2008’s Wake the Sleeper showed signs of actual life, as did 2011’s Into the Wild and Outsider in 2014.
But Living the Dream in 2018 had more than mere signs of life. Rocks in the Road was flat-out great- as in the equal of a lot of the earlier classics. The band seemed to be embracing their past and their literal future as aging human beings. The rhythm section of Russell Gilbrook (drums) and Dave Rimmer (bass) gelled in a serious way. Phil Lanzon (keyboards) stepped out from the shadow of Ken Hensley for real, and brought an unbridled technical flourish that was captivating. At 4:10 into Rocks in the Road the album morphs into a version of the classic lineup without sounding like a sad nostalgia trip. Mick Box fucking explodes on that track!
Chaos and Colour doesn’t have those flourishes. Nope, from beginning to end it’s a non-stop romp of the highest caliber. Box isn’t saving his energy for perfect “moments”: he’s unleashed on every song. It’s like the whole band has finally embraced the fact that they are, indeed, one of the best bands on the planet, Classic or otherwise.
And Bernie Shaw! Good gawd, man, you’re 66! Freedom to be Free removes any doubt whatsoever that he’s the best singer Heep has ever had. I can make the same claim for every single member of this group: road and battle tested beyond belief. I can’t help but laugh and shake my head on this track, on this whole album. It’s like they took 50-years to figure out who they really are. And somehow, beyond the indescribable musicianship of the whole crew, Bernie soars above everything and everyone as if he’s 25 years-old and ready to take over the world. Bruce Dickinson has nothing on Bernie- no one does.
The urgency of this album is something that oozes out of every note, and finally every element they’ve put together gets to shine.
I know some will disagree with me. Closer to Your Dreams might be a little too infatuated with the Hensley/Thain/Kerslake/Byron era. But dammit, this is what I want, and I finally have it. The aaaaah…..aaaaaah…..aaaaaah background vocals, the galloping bass line chugga-chugging, Mick Box with his signature waaah wailing over the hammond organ, the drums locked-in like we haven’t heard since Kerslake owned that rhythm section. Dammit, I wanted this so bad over the past few decades…and it’s here. It’s actually here. No compromises, no excuses and no looking back at what coulda, shoulda been. Today is indeed yesterdays tomorrow.
With Tears in My Eyes, I highly recommend you buy this beast of a release. If it’s your intro to the band, this is a great place to start. If you’re an old fan, and ready to feel alive again, this’ll do you more good than a vitamin B shot, some strategic Botox or a dose of Viagra. But don’t take my word for it, check it out NOW!
5 thoughts on “Uriah Heep Casts Yet Another Spell: Chaos and Colour”
Great review. Love the thumbail.
I had not gotten around to listening to this until I read your review. Then filled with the urgency of a long-time Heep fan, I gave her a spin. Damn! This is sensational!
Glad you like it! Check out the YouTube video as well, and thanks for the comment- it seriously means a lot!
Cool Review !
Check out my Uriah Heep infleunced new album:
“Very Heepy Very Purple XIV”