Following up great albums like
Salisbury, Demons and Wizards and
Magician's Birthday is not the
easiest of tasks in the world. For
this occasion Uriah Heep went to
France to record this album.
Apparently - according to the liner
notes - they slept, lived and
recorded in the studio. Normally
this has a positive influence on a
band. If it was the case will be
seen in this review.
The album begins with a
hard-rocking funky tune called
Dreamer. This was Gary's
composition. If this song was to be
an autobiographical description of
his experience of the recording of
the album, it describes not a very
comfortable and easy experience.
Listen to the following : "Getting
no sleep", "Husslin my will in a bar
downtown" and "Fightin' my way
through the back-stage door". This
is the picture of somebody who is
not only tired, but tired of the
people around him. This is not a bad
song, but the melody is forgettable.
The words are much better though
than the one's that hensley wrote.
The second song is possibly Uriah
Heep's best rocker ever - Stealin.
Where song 1 is Thain's experiences,
in Stealin we have hensley looking
back at a life of excess. Women,
greed and possibly drugs are being
mentioned or implied here. The
soulful vocals of Byron complements
the song perfectly. This is
definitely a 10/10 song.
One day sees Hensley and Thain
collaborate as songwriters.
This is again about being away from
home and the fact they recorded in
France did not help either. This is
a nice short song.
Then there is the title track -
Sweet Freedom. One day explains his
experience on being away. With Sweet
Freedom he looks at the other side -
the people staying behind. The
building up of the song is
brilliant. First the keyboard, then
the drums and bass and then the
guitars. Emotions and soul in music.
Brilliant. When I listened to
the song again it reminded of some
other song. And then there it is:
You keep me hanging on - the Vanilla
Fudge version. Go listen to it - the
guitars and keyboards are exactly the
same as in the Vanilla Fudge song.
Still - brilliant. 10/10
"If I had the time" is the next
song. The interplay between the
keyboards and the bass is very good
on this one. For this song, Hensley
moves away from the heavy organ
sound. This is Heep at it's
mellow-best. The short guitar solo
at the end is absolutely perfect.
"Seven Stars" is the first song
on the album where the guitar riff
is on the foreground. The lyrics on
this song is also some of Hensley's
best. The first verse " Don't try to
be anything else but what you are
... Don't try to do anything else
but the things you do" has the same
message as "Nothing else Matters"
from Metallica. This song also is a
"Circus" is the
acoustic song on
the album. This is the only song on
the album that has Box on the
credits. The acoustic guitar is very
good. The song has a folk-feel to
it. The only critic is that the song
is to short.
"Pilgrim" is the only song that
goes back to the theme of
"Demons and Wizard's" era. This song
picks up the funky feel that were
started with "Dreamer". I suppose if
this song was recorded earlier it
would have been the long epic. On
this album it feels out of place,
but I love it. This is definitely one
of the overlooked gems from Heep. I
don't agree with another review that
says :" "Pilgrim" is an over-the-top
stab at an
adventure tale that pushes the
group's excesses to the level of
self-parody." I think this was one
of the last great epics that heep
has recorded - until "Golden Palace"
came along. 10/10
"Sweet Freedom" is
of the top 4 albums Uriah Heep has
ever recorded. The lyrics - apart
from "Pilgrim" took a 180 turn and
was more personal. The keyboards and
the bass is more prominent and the
guitars were taking a back seat, but
where it matters it appears.
Released : September 1973
Mick Box Guitar
David Byron Vocals
Ken Hensley Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Kerslake Drums
Gary Thain Bass
1 Dreamer Thain
2 Stealin' Hensley 4:49
3 One Day Hensley, Thain 2:47
4 Sweet Freedom Hensley 7:08
5 If I Had the Time Hensley 5:43
6 Seven Stars Hensley 4:28
7 Circus Box, Kerslake, Thain 2:44
8 Pilgrim Byron, Hensley 7:10
9 Sunshine Thain 4:48