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Uriah Heep: Celebration

Uriah Heep and I both have a birthday coming up. Heep will be celebrating their 40th year and I can only wish that I was just hitting 40 too. Uriah and I have been together for that whole period of time also. Like most relationships, it has been a tumultuous affair.

In the early days things were great as we got to know each other. Later on we hit some rocky times as our outlook changed and we seemed to be going in different directions. We survived those troubling times and going through that period has brought us closer together as we both can look back and see that overall, it has been a very gratifying union.

So on this anniversary, it is time for a Celebration. Looking back on a career that spans 40 years in this business is a miracle in itself but to do so in the way that Heep does it on this disc is something special.

Taking 12 of their most well known songs from the whole span of their career, the band has re-recorded them and given us a fresh look as some very old and dear friends. Along with that they have 2 brand new songs for this disc to tempt you with.

The current line-up of the band consists of:

Mick Box Guitar
Trevor Bolder Bass
Phil Lanzon Keyboards
Bernie Shaw Lead vocals
Russell Gilbrook Drums

This is one of the most powerful line-ups the band has ever had. Although there is no way to replace the magic of a Ken Hensley, I have to give it to Mr. Lanzon, he has put his own unique stamp on the band but he has done so with a reverence to who had been there before him. For a long time I held against the lead singer the fact that they were trying to replace David Byron. Of course this is totally unfair and when this realization came to me, I was able to look upon the post Byron eras with a whole new perspective. There is some great music there!!

So this all brings us to today and the release of Celebration. For the second time in recent days I am going to use this term: What is old becomes new again! Uriah Heep has been able to update and bring into the modern age some of their best material. Most of the songs have stood the test of time but with a little tweaking in the arrangements and Bernie providing his powerful vocals, Heep's current line-up has put their own stamp on the rich history of the band. Who else could do a cover album better than the band itself!

Such classic songs as "July Morning", "Lady In Black", "Bird Of Prey" and "Sunrise" really show how the new band can make these tunes their own while still holding true to the originals. Then there are versions of "Easy Livin'", "Stealin', and "The Wizard" where they have put a whole different spin on the songs. Either way that they do it, long time fans will appreciate the gift that the band has given to us.

The two new songs also reflect the longevity of the group. "Only Human" kicks off the disc and with its organ crescendo as the first thing you hear off the album it is hard not to think of old school Heep from way back. "Corridors Of Madness" is very much later day Uriah. I can almost believe that it might have been a holdover from the Wake The Sleeper sessions. Both of these songs solidify the diversity of the band and the reverence they have for where they come from as much as where they are going.

This is an album for the fans. It is not just a greatest hits disc it is just what the title says it is. A Celebration of one of the founding fathers of the music that we love!

Track listing:

1. Only Human
2. Bird Of Prey
3. Sunrise
4. Stealin'
5. Corridors Of Madness
6. Between Two Worlds
7. The Wizard
8. Free Me
9. Free and Easy
10. Gypsy
11. Look At Yourself
12. July Morning
13. Easy Livin'
14. Lady In Black

Added: March 20th 2010
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 3378
Language: english

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Uriah Heep: Celebration
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-03-20 23:07:54
My Score:

With over thirty million albums sold world wide since the band's debut album released in 1970, UK's Uriah Heep have remained a permanent fixture of the British heavy prog scene. It is a testament to the band that the year 2010 sees the release of their twenty-second studio album entitled Celebration, coinciding with their 40th anniversary in the music business. How many bands can claim that?

Listening to Celebration I was reminded of what makes Uriah Heep such a great band. Those classic organ fills, melodic guitar riffs and excellent vocal arrangements. The vocals of Bernie Shaw, who has been the band's vocalist for the past twenty odd years does a great job as usual. The same can be said of long standing member Mick Box on guitar.

The album is a collection of re-recorded songs, mostly from the period of 1970 to 1975, a classic era in the band's history for sure. The songs mostly stay true to the original versions but benefit greatly from the use of modern production techniques giving these versions a fresh and lively sound. Also included are two new tracks for our listening pleasure.

The album begins with the catchy "Only Human", a new track containing that classic Heep sound with excellent organ and strong lead vocals. The classic "Bird Of Prey" follows suit, with a great vocal arrangement that has Shaw reaching for the higher registers and doing a nice job. "Sunrise", originally from The Magician's Birthday, is another great choice with its soaring harmonizing vocals and classic organ runs. "Corridors Of Madness" is another new track, and a very good one it is, as it has everything we have come to expect from the band like bluesy organ riffs, layered harmony vocals and one of Box's best solos on the album. Other songs include the heavy prog of "Between Two Worlds" featuring another stellar vocal arrangement and the classic "Easy Livin'" which still sounds as great today as it did all those years ago.

Its nice to see this veteran band still going strong and making excellent music. If you are a fan of the band you will probably want this as these versions sound excellent, and the two new songs show the band are still at the top of their game and not slowing down any time soon. Bravo gentleman on a job well done.

Uriah Heep: Celebration
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-03-10 07:05:52
My Score:

I have to admit that when I look upon the numerous racks of my own music library that there is not a single release from those legendary rockers Uriah Heep. While I have long known the name and had friends that adored them, I just never followed what they were up to. It was nothing personal of course, I just think that I ended up bypassing them because I was too busy being passionate about the bands that I was an absolute diehard for. Come to think of it, I am not entirely telling the truth here as I do have their latest studio album "Awaken The Sleeper", I am really did like what they did with it, but had felt too much time had gone by for me to begin looking into them in a rewind sense. "Celebration" finds the current and obviously powerfully strong lineup celebrating the bands rich history by re-visiting twelve of their greatest numbers and dare I say "updating" them just a tad to fit into the sound of now. This is a great thing if you are someone like me who wondered where to even begin on a band that has been doing this for forty years. Having never truly followed them before all of these renditions played like new material and in some sense they actually were and I had to say that I liked what I was hearing. They even give you two new tracks that work rather effectively and after only one half a listen I found my foot tapping' and my vocal chords responding to the chorus of "Only Human" which I think will become a favorite of new and long time fans.

The band now features Bernie Shaw (vocals), Mick Box (guitar), Phil Lanzon (Keyboards), Trevor Bolder (Bass), and Russell Gilbrook (drums). Those in the know are aware about Mick Box being the only founding member and he is followed by Trevor Bolder who has been with the band since 1976. Singer Shaw has been at the vocal helm since 1986 and since that is over twenty years tenure it's pretty safe to say that the bands material is in good hands with him. At times I felt he reminded me of Ian Gillan but this might have just been some of the vocal inflections as they played along with the riff. There was some solid drumming across the board but I would have liked to hear just a little more double kick drum and the keyboard just ooze out of your speakers with the smooth guitar. After listening to the compiled hits that were reworked I had to say how much I enjoyed these versions because they seemed to have a fresh groove to them that made me enjoy them all the more. I loved "Sunrise", "Stealin" and of course the once redone by W.A.S.P. "Easy Livin'", but in all honesty there wasn't a bad recording on the album as a whole. I did wonder how some of the bands legacy fans would feel about the redo's because we did find some folks balking at Journey doing a similar thing when they brought in Arnel Pineda. KISS even did this with their originally titled "KISSology" CD that was packed into the new "Sonic Boom" recording for wider reach last year. I try to view this process as NOT an erasing of the band's storied past but instead something that lets you hear the band as they are today when they do these songs because they will likely sound like this in concert as well. Its all how you look at it I guess, and this made me a happy music fan and isn't that the idea in the first place. The important thing is to not be too judgmental because they really did justice to their own tunes and made them exciting enough for a new and tougher music fan world.

The release comes in both a standard edition which is the CD alone and also in a special deluxe version that presents the band in concert from 2008 at the Sweden Rock Festival. I didn't have that version for the purpose of review but I am sure that after forty years the band sounds damn good onstage. If not they would have called it a day quite a long time ago. Congratulations on making it to forty years as a band Uriah Heep; let's all join in on the "Celebration" of your accomplishments.

Uriah Heep: Celebration
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-03-03 19:18:51
My Score:

Celebration 'celebrates' 40 years of heavy rock from veteran British outfit Uriah Heep, a band that has been around for so long creating quality music that they've been a regular institution on the scene. This set is a great 'best of' collection, but instead of mimicking the already numerous greatest hits sets that are already available, the current line-up went into the studio and re-recorded fresh versions of Heep classics, along with two new songs, the hard rocking "Only Human" and "Corridors of Madness".

This current line-up, with the exception of new drummer Russell Gilbrook, has actually been together now for quite some time. Comprised of guitarist and founding member Mick Box, bassist Trevor Bolder, singer Bernie Shaw, Phil Lanzon on keyboards, and Gilbrook, Uriah Heep is actually a lean, mean, fighting hard rock machine these days, which you can plainly hear on this album. Newly recorded, fist pumping renditions of "Bird of Prey", "Free and Easy", "Gypsy", "Look at Yourself", and "Easy Livin' ", complete with crunchy guitar riffs and raging Hammond organ, mesh well with the more textured, proggy numbers like "July Morning", "Stealin' ", "The Wizard", "Free Me", and "Lady in Black". Shaw is really a solid singer, and he does David Byron proud on these pieces, especially on the emotional & powerful classic "Sunrise".

As for the new tunes, they rock, and if you loved Heep's recent studio release Wake the Sleeper, chances are you'll dig these as well.

Celebration is ultimately a reminder of how good this band always was, and how good they still are. Here's hoping another studio album of new material is on the works for the near future.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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