Reviews

URIAH HEEP ‘Celebration’ Ear Music (2009) www.edel.com

Uriah Heep celebrate 40 years with this release of re-recorded 70’s era classics plus two new songs. This is not the first time the band have re-recorded their older classics with Bernie Shaw at the mic having done so a few years ago for a now defunct record label. Guitarist Mick Box is the only original member although vocalist Bernie Shaw, keyboards player Phil Lanzon and bass player Trevor Bolder have all clocked up over twenty years each in the band.

Turning to the new songs first both follow the sound of their last album having a distinct prog leaning and a definate hark back to the band’s 70’s sound. ‘Only Human’ is a very strong and fits nicely in with the 70’s songs. ‘Corridors Of Madness’ is not too bad but is not a patch on the classics. Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon on Hammond organ are the two real stars of the re-recorded songs as they are both very high in the mix with Lanzon’s pounding organ riffs driving along ‘Easy Livin’ and ‘Gypsy’. The version of ‘Stealin’ is stunning and the famous Heep choir really comes to life on this song, one of my personal favourates as it encompases everything the band are good at. Some fans may have wanted the originals in a compilation but to be honest this band like fellow 70’s rockers Nazareth have been done to death in the compilations sector.

The band’s idea to revisit the songs that made the band is a much more rewarding idea and listen. Shame they didn’t tackle a few 80’s songs from the Pete Goalby era though. Hopefully this will win them a few new fans.

****1/2

PUGWASH ‘Giddy’ Ape House Ltd (2009) www.pugwashtheband.com

Pugwash are the brainchild of Thomas Walsh who can be heard on the rather excellent Duckworth Lewis Method album that features Neil Hannon of the Divine Comedy. This CD gathers together tracks from albums released in his native Ireland plus two new songs of the band’s new album due early next year.

The songs on here feature some lovely pop rock melodies that have hints of the Divine Comedy, Jackdaw 4, Lightning Seeds and XTC, the latter not so surprising as XTC’s Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory guest on a couple of tunes plus this is Andy Partridge’s label. ‘It’s Nice To Be Nice’ is a good a pop tune as you will hear with a Beachboys approved chorus. ‘Cluster Bomb’ wraps a serious lyric in a sweet pop tune and ‘1lb Chocs’ would be a hit if played on the radio. A couple of songs lack the classy touch of the rest of the album but even these are still easy on the ear.

What a great discovery this band is and along with the Duckworth Lewis Method album will satisfy lovers of high quality pop rock music.

****1/2

KYLE VINCENT ‘Where You Are’ Song Tree Records (2009)

Kyle Vincent may not be known to many music fans, which in itself is a damn shame but with his new album I am sure he will pick up many new listeners. If you have a liking for well crafted and produced soft rock/pop/AOR then this album will delight you from start to finish. Bar the bass and drums everything else on here is played by Kyle and you can but marvel at the arrangements on some of the songs like ‘Petals Of Peace’, which is so busy musically you’d swear a whole host of musicians were involved. ‘It’s Gonna Be A Great Day’ is a perfect pop song, breezy chorus and damn catchy, streets ahead of Ben Folds any day of the week. Given some airplay this would be a shoe in summer hit single. ‘Emily Standing’ is the only co-write on the album with Parthenon Huxley, an accomplished solo artist in his own right plus being a former member of ELO Part II/Orkestra (current ELO Part II/Orkestra drummer Gordon Townsend guests on this song). Again a lovely melody underpins a divine pop song. See you don’t need these manufactured boy bands or solo girl singers with attitude, that’s not pop or melody this is. ‘It’s A Lonely World’ reminded me of XTC around the time of their ‘Oranges and Lemons’ album, cracking stuff.

Kyle adds some very tasty sax playing on a few songs as well, making for a 70’s US AOR radio feel, which is reinforced by the CD having side one and side two listed just like the old records did. Hard to pick out good songs as to be honest they all are and if you enjoy artists like Ben Lee, Ben Folds and 70’s AOR/soft rock this album should be top of your shopping list.

****1/2

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