I think that if you examine Uriah Heep closely, you’ll find that it’s absolutely impossible for them to record a duff album.
That said, they’ve released more than their fare share of steady records over the years, records seemingly designed merely to remind you of the band’s continued presence on the scene, without causing too much of a brouhaha outside of their immediate circle of dedicated fans and friends. Living the Dream is not one of those ‘middling’ Heap records.
Put simply, the band are on fire on Living the Dream, delivering perhaps their best overall work since 1982’s Abominog opus. I can’t recall the band sounding so energised as they do here since then, with guitarist Mick Box in particular playing out of his skin on tracks like Take Away My Soul and Knocking at My Door.
Keyboard maestro Phil Lanzon, fresh back after an exhilarating solo outing in the form of one of this year’s best classic rock releases, the staggering If You Think I’m Crazy, brings that top form back to his day job with a series of splendid performances, especially when called upon to add the rumbling heft of his trusty Hammond organ.
Similarly vocalist Bernie Shaw sounds full of fire and purpose, delivering one of his best latter-day album performances. His relaxed command of songs like Rocks in the Road shows all the hallmarks of a true master; the rest of the band bolster his efforts with superbly on-point harmonies whenever called upon, the result being a luxuriant wall of melody on most of the album’s choruses and refrains.
The rhythm section don’t miss out on the praise either; Russell Gilbrook is a veritable force of nature throughout, whilst Davy Rimmer’s outstanding work on Rocks in the Road is some of the best, most solid bass work you’ll hear all year.
It’s very easy to slip into hyperbole when a much-loved veteran band like Uriah Heep wakes from its slumbers to deliver a killer album; the need as a fan to herald a second (or third, or fourth…) coming often swamps the critical impulse to deliver a balanced judgement. But, as you sit in the comfort of your own domicile, marvelling at the Salisburyesque majesty that is It’s All Been Said, you’ll find yourself agreeing with me – this is Heep at their very best… Enjoy.
Living the Dream is out now on Frontiers Music.