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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 single? 

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 Heep. 

If you've heard it............do you agree? If you've not heard it yet you're in for a real treat. 

Mike
IOW


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