Friday, February 3, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Sweet Freedom, by Uriah Heep

By 1973 Uriah Heep had really put themselves on the map with multiple grandiose albums, particularly The Magician's Birthday and Demons & Wizards. While up to this point they had been a mostly prog rock band they wanted to start to rope in some wider commercial appeal. Up till this point their lyrics were mostly fantasy themed and their song structures on the more creative side. Now though they wanted to make music that more people could follow. The result was Sweet Freedom.

Sweet Freedom takes a more conventional commercial rock approach to the sound of the music compared to the prog rock sound the band had before. The arrangements might not be as complex and things more on the bluesy side, but Uriah Heep still made it work with the kind of music they already liked to make. It still gets loud, ginormous, powerful, and packs one hell of a wallop, showing musical prowess here and there. Two of their best songs: Sweet Freedom and Stealin' came from that record, so it definitely isn't that much of a step backwards for them.

The title track Sweet Freedom is one of those tunes that builds layer upon layer in terms of instruments in the mix as well as the volume at which the band is playing. When everything builds to a peak and crashes into the meat and potatoes of the song it is one of the most satisfying feelings a classic rock fan could ever have. After that it has a nice transition from loud to soft and then back again. It creates an absolutely glorious sonic wall of sound.

Stealin' in my opinion is one of the greatest things to ever come out of the 1970's. That subtle bass/organ/vocal intro that then leads into this glorious moment that pounds you right in the face when the main part of the song kicks in out of almost nowhere is one of the coolest things a band has ever done. No build up, yet it still kicks in with the full band at the right moment. The vocal harmonies are also absolutely tasty and the guitar solo well placed and written. I think they were looking to write a show stealer when they wrote this and succeeded.

Overall Sweet Freedom isn't the best of all of Uriah Heep's work, but it's still definitely up there with the best of the band's classic albums. You can definitely tell they were trying to stay true to themselves as musicians while still trying to branch out and become more accessible to the general listener that might not really dig fantasy themed prog rock. It definitely seemed like it was a fine line to tread, but they seemed to manage to pull it off quite well. I would definitely recommend this record, though not as a way to start listening to Uriah Heep.

Sweet Freedom, by Uriah Heep receives 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Track List:

1. Dreamer
2. Stealin'
3. One Day
4. Sweet Freedom
5. If I Had the Time
6. Seven Stars
7. Circus
8. Pilgrim

Buy the album on Amazon:

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