This roller coaster of a ride
with Heep is 38 years old this summer. I still remember the
excitement as a 13 year old buying 'Very 'eavy very 'umble' on the
Vertigo label. Every album since has heralded the same excitement.
However the trials and tribulations and the hype leading up to Wake
the Sleeper has made the excitement even more intense.
I am a rocker at heart and have always favoured the 1st 3 Heep
albums over anything that came after. There have been some gems on
the way such as Sweet Freedom and Sea Of Light but those 1st three
have always been my favourites. That is however, up till now. I can
honestly say that WTS is a simply awesome Heep album. Full of energy,
full of classic Heep trademarks and what's more IT ROCKS.
I've got both the CD and vinyl versions and remembering how I used
to listen to Heep of old I played the vinyl first. I pumped up the
volume on my HiFi and sat down to enjoy......... What hit me was not
what I was expecting. The title track is a truly inspired choice of
an opener. Whilst it has no singing as such we do have regular Heep
trade marks such as harmony ‘ah’s’ and Mick’s wah guitar. What a
pace though! Immediately apparent is the difference in the drumming.
Russell has certainly brought a renewed power to the rhythm section
which Trevor is obviously revelling in. A real rocker of an opener.
Overload has been played live for some months now and makes a great
live track but to hear the studio version inspires me to say that
this is arguably the greatest Heep track ever. OK...maybe a bit
controversial, and maybe I’ll change my mind when I come back down
to earth. What IS certain is that Overload is the greatest Heep
track in over 30 years. All the Heep elements are at their very best
here. Again the bass and drums of Trevor and Russell, whilst not
dominating really drive this track like I‘ve not heard since the
70’s. Phil’s keyboards are especially impressive and it’s great to
hear the Hammond taking a forward role again. I think you can tell I
really rate this one.
Tears of the World took me a few listens to get into but now is
definitely one of my fave’s. A fast paced rocker in the style of
early Rainbow but with all those Heep harmonies to make it so much
better than anything Rainbow have produced. Bernie sounds awesome on
this one. The end is right out the 70’s. Could this make a great
Things slow down a bit for the next few tracks but no less enjoyable.
The quality remains extremely high and what is becoming more and
more apparent is the how all the band gel so well. Phil’s keyboards
and Mick’s guitar combine together to create a wide colourful
picture. The production qualities of Mike Paxman have created a
proper ‘Rock’ album. In my view the quality of Sonic Origami was
masked by it’s polished ‘over’ production. Not so here. Mike
succeeded in putting Status Quo back on track but he has gone one
stage further with Heep in producing a masterpiece!
To some the stand out track on the album is ‘What Kind Of God’. All
the songs so far have been written by Mick Box and Phil Lanzon but
the songwriting on this one takes us to a different level. Naturally
Mike Paxman’s production creates a stupendous sounding song. I can’t
say it’s particularly ‘Heepy’...that is until we get to the
end.............Wow! True Heep! Just listen to Russell!
Ghosts of the Ocean is another really enjoyable rocker with plenty
of wah guitar and heavy keyboards. Trevor’s bass sounds great. It’s
so difficult to say enough about Trevor’s playing as it’s always
such high quality. Bernie really pours on the passion and somehow
sounds a little different. Great track.
Let’s slow it down again with Angels Walk With You. I love the
beginning.....is that a Leslie fan squeaking I can hear? No doubt
someone will tell me I’m hearing things. Now this is a HEAVY track.
I’ve not heard Heep this heavy since Very ‘eavy Very ‘umble. Trevor
loves the heavy stuff so it’s no surprise that he wrote it. Great
keyboard solo from Phil.
Shadow is another one that’s been played Live for a few months now,
and it’s one of the best here and right out of 70’s classic Heep. I
can’t get the chorus out of my mind. ‘Shadow...nothing but a shadow’
Great groove. Better than anything Deep Purple have done. Please
don’t end..........Phew!!! Written by Phil by the way.
What better way to finish the album off than with another heavy song
by Trevor. This is another great track with some fantastic keyboards,
and great vocals from Bernie. The guitar and rhythm are sort of
‘grungy’ but you can tell it’s Heep. The vocals and harmonies give
it away. Fans of early Heep will love Mick’s solo. Reminds me of his
solo on ‘I’ll Keep on Trying’.
And so it ends..........that is until I put it on again. Not a weak
track here. Sonic had a few, Sea of Light had one or two I wasn’t
keen on but here we have an album I can listen to without editing
out tracks or having to get up and lift the tone arm and skip.
My favourite tracks are: Overload, Tears Of The World, Angels Walk
With You, Shadow and War Child.
Congratulations to Mick, Trevor, Phil, Bernie, Russell and Mike for
creating this masterpiece. I can see it’s already charted in some
territories. Let’s hope some more embrace 21st century
If you've heard it............do you agree? If you've not heard it
yet you're in for a real treat.