“Celebration” by Uriah Heep

Artist: Uriah Heep
Title: “Celebration”
Label: earMusic
Release Date: 3/16/2010
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

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.

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

Official Website: http://www.uriah-heep.com

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