Uriah Heep - Sweet Freedom

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General Review
 

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 definite 10/10.

"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 the "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 definitely one 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.

9.5/10

 

 
 
Cover

Uriah Heep - Sweet Freedom

 

Released : September 1973
Band members

Mick Box Guitar
David Byron Vocals
Ken Hensley Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Kerslake Drums
Gary Thain Bass

 
Songs on album:

1 Dreamer Thain 3:41
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

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