Review: Uriah Heep – Outsider

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DavidSome albums catch you at first listen but, after a while, the initial attraction wears off. Others don’t grab you at first but grow on you over time. Sometimes though, you get the best of both worlds: a few tracks hit you straight away; and the album grows on you with every listen. For me, The Outsider by Uriah Heep looks like it belongs in that third category.

If you have read my review of Live At Koko will know that two of the tracks I particularly liked were “Can’t Take That Away” and “One Minute” (two songs that were destined to appear on this studio album). The tracks made the transition from live favourite to studio favourite without any problems. I was already familiar with the tracks so, unsurprisingly, they stood out on first listen, but they have held their own even with repeated plays. I was concerned with the quality of the bass sound on the live album but there are no problems here. The balance between all the instruments is spot on and both these tracks sound even better now that the bass is loud and clear. These two tracks, however, were not the only ones that caught me on first time around and there are a number of others that have grown on me the more I heard them.

CD cover for Uriah Heep - OutsiderFor an example from the “grower” category, check out “Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?”. The opening is nothing special: a bit slow; somewhat deliberate; and (dare I say it) slightly pompous sounding. But then the chorus kicks in. Then the drums pick up… as does my interest. Then back to verse… but then the chorus again and I am thinking that I really like the drumming in that part. Then comes the instrumental break where the organ and drums have what I can only describe as a fight. (It’s not clear who wins but I put the drums ahead on points even though it would appear that the organ is the last one standing.) As the dust settles on the fight, there is the gentlest of guitar solos, almost like Mick Box is playing the role of the friend saying, “Calm down, calm down!”, in a comedy Liverpudlian accent. As the song grew on me, I started listening to the lyrics more carefully. To me, it’s song about depression where the lyrics express the despair and the conflict in the music describes the inner turmoil and the struggle against “…the hurt that haunts me, until the day I die.” So, the song, especially the chorus sounded interesting the first time I heard it, but I have enjoyed it more and more each time I listened.

I could go rave on about more of my favourite songs (like “Kiss The Rainbow”) but suffice to say, you can’t throw a stick at this album without hitting a good track. And I haven’t even mentioned Bernie Shaw’s vocals which have a purity, and vulnerability with just a hint of roughness around the edges which really suits these songs. I’ve also said next to nothing about the quality of the musicianship in evidence. They sound brilliant and seem to be still thoroughly enjoying themselves. For example, check out the official video for “One  Minute” (video clearly recorded live but it sounds like the audio is from the studio version):

Here is a band that is still producing outstanding music long after many of their contemporaries have put their feet up and their slippers on.

Conclusion: Don’t waste One More Minute, get this album now.
(Concluding phrase copyright “Cheesy Endings Ltd.”)

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