The lads have already sorted out their new set list, so this post is really just for the fun of it. I’d love to hear from Heep fans in the comments section, about neglected classics you’d like to hear in concert again – and any info you might have about live performances of the following songs would be very welcome, too.
10. ‘Walking in Your Shadow’ (from Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble, 1970): Inaugurating the band’s tradition of great second tracks, this feisty mid-tempo cut, built around an hypnotically simple guitar riff, has an indefinable charm that rises above mere quaintness as an exemplar of ‘early Heep’. I can imagine Mick really tearing this one up on stage . . . and I’d love to see it!
9. ‘One Way or Another’ (from High and Mighty, 1976): David Byron’s swansong was undoubtedly a patchy affair, and is arguably more of a Ken Hensley solo album featuring performances from Uriah Heep, than a Uriah Heep album. Nevertheless, the creatively fecund keyboard supremo delivered the goods with the album’s standout tracks – notably including this muscular, bluesy rocker, sung by John Wetton. Always a favourite of mine, I’d love to hear Trevor Bolder go to town on this one!
8. ‘Chasing Shadows’ (from Abominog, 1982): One of the four completely new and original songs from an album dominated by outside material (and one re-recording), I have always been surprised at the neglect of this song by band and fans alike. Another number of high drama, exemplifying everything that was great about Abominog – the strikingly high tech, modern sound, married to high-octane, unbridled energy – its roaring guitar solo, following the synth-washed refrain, would undoubtedly precipitate mass dropping of jaws in appreciative auditioriums.
7. ‘It Ain’t Easy’ (from Conquest, 1980): While it is difficult to imagine many Sloman era tracks translating well to live performance by later line-ups (and there is about as much chance of hearing them performed by the current line-up as there is of Deep Purple reuniting with Ritchie Blackmore and Joe Lynn Turner, and beginning their revised live set with ‘Love Child’!), I am quietly confident that this introspective Trevor Bolder-penned ballad would stand up very well, with some creative latter day reinvention. If you ever do another ‘Acoustically Driven’ show, guys . . . ?
6. ‘The Hanging Tree’ (from Firefly, 1977): An understated, but subtly infectious song that introduced the blues-soaked vocal richness of John Lawton to fans following the sacking of David Byron, this outstanding track would surely be greeted like an old friend by the Heep cognoscenti if restored to the set. And while Bernie’s vocal stylings are very different from those of Heep’s second frontman, I have a hunch that it’s one of the Lawton era tracks that would suit him best.
5. ‘Across the Miles’ (from Sonic Origami, 1998): While this track certainly divided opinion on its release – just too slushy and nakedly commercial for some purists – I’m sure I can’t be the only AOR junkie who considers that Heep actually improved upon Survivor’s original with this cover; nor can I be the only Heep fan who was enraptured by Mick’s fluid soloing over the end section. Extended for live performance, it could be very powerful indeed.
4. ‘Love Machine’ (from Look at Yourself, 1971): This one, as the saying goes, is definitely not rocket science. A frenetic workout built for the live stage, it could really set the seal on an evening as a final encore . . .
3. ‘Blood on Stone’ (from Different World, 1991): For the ‘Acoustically Driven’ concert, Heep ressurected two of the ballads – ‘Cross that Line’ and the title track – from their most maligned album to magnificent effect, proving that even under the most inauspicious circumstances (the band had to rush an album out to try, to no avail, to save their record company from going bust!), they could still produce songs of enduring quality. The album’s hardest rocking cut, the up-tempo riff-driven monster that opens it, might equally be employed to similar effect, and would, I’m sure, go down a storm in concert. In fact, it is fair to say that ‘Blood on Stone’ would not sound at all out of place sandwiched between a couple of belters from Wake the Sleeper or Into the Wild.
2. ‘Suicidal Man’ (from Wonderworld, 1974): One of the more raucous numbers from a relatively (and brilliantly) introspective album, this has always been one of my favourite songs from the ‘classic’ line-up – in large part due to the fantastic performances from David Byron and Gary Thain. I’m sure Mr Shaw could do ample justice to the dramatic, indeed theatrical, lyric, and I’d love to hear Trevor Bolder get stuck into the masterclass that is Thain’s bass part, and offer his own take on it (I know that the band performed the song on the Conquest tour, but the sound quality of the recording, released on Uriah Heep: The Best of . . . Part II, is, sadly, not great).
1. ‘Blood Red Roses’ (from Raging Silence, 1989): For too long, this secret weapon in the Uriah Heep arsenal has been kept under wraps – it’s time to unleash it again! A soaring AOR anthem that would have made Journey proud, this Pete Goalby-penned masterpiece, as the flagship song from a genuinely classic album, should really have been a mainstay of the live Heep experience lo these many years.