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KNAC.com CD Review: Uriah Heep Wake the Sleeper...

By Michael Fischer@toonsonice.com  
 Date: September 09, 2008

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Platinum Royal Rockers Uriah Heep are back and have just released their first new record in ten years entitled "Wake The Sleeper!!!" WAKE is true to Heep and yet another addition their amazing thirty eight year achieve of music. This new material proves that British Rock Royalty only get better and louder with age. After nearly four decades of rocking the planet, Uriah Heep are still cranking out their own classic style of vintage balls to the wall progressive rock and ready to embark on an American Tour in 2009!!! ( Hello Chicago! )

Uriah Heep are :

  • Guitarist Mick Box

  • Vocalist Bernie Shaw ( Escape, Praying Mantis )

  • Bassist Trevor Bolder ( David Bowie, Wishbone Ash )

  • Keyboardist Phil Lanzon ( Sweet )

  • Drummer Russell Gilbrook ( The Gods/Tony Iommi Black Sabbath ).

URIAH HEEP "Wake The Sleeper" Sanctuary/Universal Record Release...
( Official Release Date 9.4.08 )
Produced and Engineered by Mike Paxman...
Total Time - 50:44

  • 1. Wake The Sleeper... ( 3:33 )

  • 2. Overload... ( 5:56 )

  • 3. Tears of The World... ( 4:44 )

  • 4. Light of a Thousand Stars... ( 3:56 )

  • 5. Heavens Rain... ( 4:16 )

  • 6. Book of Lies... ( 4:03 )

  • 7. What Kind of God... ( 6:36 )

  • 8. Ghost of the Ocean... ( 3:20 )

  • 9. Angels Walk With You... ( 5:23 )

  • 10. Shadow... ( 3:35 ) 11. War Child... ( 5:07 )

Uriah Heep are the original Pioneers of Progressive Rock and have sold in excess of 30 million gold and platinum records. I was just a little rug rat rocker growing up in St. Louis when I received "The Magicians Birthday" as a present for my ninth birthday and my life has never been the same since. ( I think the heaviest album I had at that point was "The Monkees Greatest Hits." ) Uriah Heep inspired me to grow my hair long, piss my parents off and become an artist. It's unbelievable looking back on Uriah Heep's entire catalogue of music since day one. I was seven years old when their first self titled debut record was released in 1970.

Slap on that record today and "Gypsy" is still one of the heaviest opening riffs. Heep was formed by Guitarist Mick box and their flamboyant frontman David Byron. Byron was prancing around and mucking up huge concert stages before Freddie Mercury ( Queen ) and long before Scott Wieland ( STP ). Heep were also the very first British rock band to ever play a live concert in Russia in December of 1987.

In the beginning in 1970 Uriah Heep were born from the talent, heart and soul of the original five members. Keyboardist Ken Hensley, Guitarist Mick Box, Drummer Lee Kerslake ( Blizzard of Oz ), and the late vocalist David Byron and Bassist Gary Thain ( The Secrets ). These five chaps from England were touring the world and selling out huge concert crowds and I wasn't even out of grade school. Heep mixed psychedelic tones with a heavy Hammond B3 organ and gigantic vocal harmonies that make Queen look silly. Heep songs can make you come apart at the heart strings sometimes. Their songs romp and they take you on these melodic magical journeys.

Since rock began, no other band has duplicated the sound or body of work that is Uriah Heep. And no one ever will. Unless Mick's son takes over the family farm and dad's rig and keeps the Heep Legacy alive another 100 years. By 1972 Demons and Wizards Tour, Uriah Heep sold out the Chicago Arena two times. T-Rex refused to play with them after the crowd went hysterical and wanted more Heep encores.

Uriah Heep filled rock radio, owned their own private jet, their images covered the pages of American rock magazines like Circus, Creem and Hit Parader They were one of the biggest bands in the world in only a few short years. Heep paved the way to Budakon for bands like UFO, Iron Maiden and Dream Theater.

Uriah Heep are responsible for carving out the future of rock music as we now know it. They wrote about Demons and Wizards long before Maiden and it was bass players like Gary Thain ( Uriah Heep ) back then who were inspiring young blokes like Steve Harris ( Bassist Iron Maiden ). Since my heart became filled with Heepsteria, I have been collecting Heep Music like digitally remastered "Wonderworld" and "Sweet Freedom." While battling riots, fires, and earthquakes in Los Angeles in the 1990's.

It was always nice to have a Heep record by my side to rock my spirits. I am grateful for the existence of the band and all they have sacrificed. They are not your average doom and gloom rock band, they really come straight from the heart. Heep did it all and so much more. They are a sacred institution and right up there with bands like Led Zeppelin, Rush and Yes. Heep's music is biblical and a real spiritual shape shifter for dedicated rockers like me. Heepster's delight!

Uriah Heep's long awaited new record "Wake the Sleeper" has just hit the store shelves and it's a real rocker! "Wake" is a chipster off the ole blockster, and simply incredible! This record contains all the magic that has earned Uriah Heep their loyal fan base for nearly forty years.

This record is a perfect example of Heep's amazing artistry and has been voted number one rock album of the year in UK's "Classic Rock Magazine" receiving an 8 out of 10 rating from fans. The first thing that strikes me about this new record is the superb imaginary cover artwork by "Ioannis" at "Vividimagesdesign.com." Heep have always had great mystical album covers and I dig the Ancient Sleeping Guardian Statue for the cover of this record.

Heep always spares no expense in putting out quality product for their fans, and Universal have put together a very nice color fold out CD insert with photos, lyrics and special thanks to. Heep has always written nice things in all the records they release for the fans. Early works like "Demons and Wizards" and "The Magicians Birthday" were designed by famed album artist Roger Dean who did all of Yes's record covers.

Another noticeable thing about this new record is the fantastic songs. Most the songs were written by Guitarist Mick Box and Keyboardist Phil Lanzon. In the glory days the band usually shared the writing credits although as time went on, I would see Ken Hensley's name on most of the tunes like "Firefly." Ken was like the Steve Harris of Uriah Heep for sometime. Someone in the band has to control the material and captain the direction of the band and Ken has always bled contracts and control. Since Ken is no longer in the band, Guitarist Mick box has really taking hold of the reins and kept the Heep Legacy alive.

Uriah Heep is such a great band and has so much music to offer, it would be a shame to let the music die and the band fade into the abyss along with so many other bands of their time. Heep just refuses to let go and they are here to inspire a new generation of rock fans with their musical wizardry. To this day, Uriah Heep is one of the best live performing bands on the planet. The first tune WAKE THE SLEEPER is a rockin tune out of the gate courtesy of Mick's opening guitar riff.

The first tune is a mover! Great driving song like Saxon! It's a straight ahead instrumental with some classic Heep vocals layered over the chorus part singing "Wake The Sleeper." A cool ahead opener out of the gate and it sounds just like Uriah Heep. It amazes me how bands like this never lose their sound and secret formula. They just keep cranking out the new tunes and they sound as good today as they did thirty years ago. It's evident just by hearing the first song, Heep is very true to their family recipe for song and heavy flavor.

Some where in Heaven David and Gary are looking down with a smile and a cocktail. ( and Mum and Cuz John ) The second tune OVERLOAD is brilliant! I was hooked after the first verse. What superb chord changes and it sounds really good turned way up loud . This record has some great material and a lot of classic dynamics like all Heep Records.

Heavy guitar, vocals, B3 and a smoking performance from new drummer Russell Gilbrook who replaced their long time mate Lee Kerslake. Lee sadly has been ill and unable to record or tour with the band. And this is a chap who used to stand on his drum stool and jump over his drum kit back in the day. Much like Guitarist Mick Box, Lee has chosen to be a musician for life and his contribution to Heep's History is unheard of! He should have war medals for disappearing on the road and finding his way back to the bus.

Lee played drums on the first two records Ozzy with Randy Rhoads. and those are considered musical bibles. Add Ozzy along with Heep's Amazing Achieve of material and Lee has quite an impressive resume. He is truly missed by Heepsters and we wish him best of health and ‘Appy Days as Mick would say. There are several song stand outs on this record like TEARS OF THE WORLD, and ANGELS WALK WITH YOU, heavily written in spirit about the passing of Mick Box's Mother and his cousin John Lyons in 2006 who were the ones who originally inspired Mick to pick up a guitar.

After all the thanking we give Heep for their music, we should be thanking Mick's Mum Lillian for helping Mick with his guitar addiction. I couldn't picture growing up in the 70's without Uriah Heep blasting on the radio! Simply amazing performance mates right down to Mick's toggle switching ending out ANGELS.

And I wanted to add WHAT KIND OF GOD is a great war cry tune with superb lyrics and mega haunting harmonies and Heep's signature Hammond B3! The last couple songs on this record SHADOW and WAR CHILD just smoke! Kudo's to vocalist Bernie Shaw, Bassist Trevor Bolder and Keyboardist Phil Lanzon.

They really kicked some major ass on this material playing and providing voices. There are ton's of vocals on WAKE which is the ultimate staple of Heep. Their lyrics are dead on with the times as Heep marches on into the new century and a new sunrise. Mick Box and Phil Lanzon wrote most of the material on this record.

The album was engineered by Mike Paxman ( Status Quo ). The mix on this record is very good. It's not super bright like most modern rock records to retain some of the vintage sound. I wouldn't doubt if it was recorded analog. If you listen to an old Heep Record, they have really come along way in the overall sound department. Everything is much bigger, fatter and compressed like hell now which I love!

The band is truly at the top of their game. You can poke fun, criticize and say what you want about a band still rocking in their sixties. In reality, Heep were the ones headlining Madison Square Garden and The Chicago Arena when you were still shitting in your diapers wanting a Big Wheel for Christmas.

Heep may not sell as many licensed lunch boxes and alarm clocks as KISS, but they are still better musicians. Always have been, always will be. Heep always delivers and the proof is in the english pudding. This is one of the best records I have heard in a long time! Heep shows have always been fun and a party more less.

They took the rock arena party atmosphere to another level long before bands like Van Halen. Heep easily stands along side all the other bands of their era like Sweet, Grand Funk, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. You have to respect that or your a ranting nomad. 90% of the bands out today will not be active in thirty years... or will their fans support them like Heepster's support Heep now. With all the chemicals and cookie monster vocals of today, I'm surprised if any of the bands these days will still have hearing or a voice by the time they are forty years old let alone sixty.

Heep has lost a few soldiers along the way like David and Gary, so this band is honoring their fallen' brothers and keeping the music alive. Due to greed and stupidity, most other rock artists would just do their own thing to make more money and leave the past behind dishonoring the music. Sound familiar?

In a world where crap is king, I would personally like to thank the blokes in Heep for their loyalty to the music. Between the modern rule of gangster hip hop, MTV gone psycho teen and Hannah Montana. It's like going thru a new threshold listening to "Wake The Sleeper." Hearing Heep fresh again is like popping on the ole headphones and saying hello to old friends again. This music really cuts through your emotional mire.

The sacrifice these guys have made being away from home nine months out of a year throughout all their lives is right up there with our troops in IRAQ. If Heep had a chest full of War Medals... they wouldn't have enough chests to put them on! Well, unless maybe Sharon Osbourne and Dolly Parton donated theirs. It's not really about the people as it is the music... and it's important for me to keep Uriah Heep plugged in and turned up real loud as long as I am alive.

I admire that fact that this band refuses to quietly go away. It's what it's all really about isn't it...? To die with your boots on...? In 1970, Rolling Stone writer named Melissa Mills wrote a record review of Uriah Heep's first self titled debut album and it read: "If this band makes it, I'll have to commit suicide!" I lay money on it that bird is either dead or working at McDonald's asking people if they want ketchup with their french fries.

Melissa darling where ever you are, Pure Rock always has the last laugh. "And I will take some extra ketchup with my fries!" Uriah Heep's "Wake The Sleeper" is now etched in stone and in the history books.

Yet another superb piece of work from one of the greatest rock bands of our time. Be sure to check out Heep's 2008 European Fall Tour Schedule as they are hitting the road this September and looking to tour the House of Blues in America in January and February of 2009. Uriah Heep's new CD "Wake The Sleeper"" earns a KNAC Pure Rock four stars!!!!

Go buy this record and disturb your neighbors in pure style!
Check the Heep Website for 2008-09 European/US Tour Dates!

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