Uriah Heep is one of the longest lasting rock bands of our day, and they just keep getting better. Although nothing will compare to the original line-up, this longest running line-up of Box, Kerslake, Bolder, Shaw, and Lanzon have come together to bring a truly enjoyable set of ‘unplugged’ classics. You don’t have to be a Heep fan to enjoy this disc. The songs are great, old and new, but mostly old, and the fans clearly show their appreciation. Heep has dusted off some classics that haven’t been played in over twenty years: Lonely Road, Wonderlworld, Shadows and the Wind, Circle of Hands, and many more. A truly enjoyable set from one of rock’s finest bands.
An acoustic set recorded at the Mermaid Theatre, London on 12/9/00. 16 tracks unplugged with an orchestra. Featuring special guest artist Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull). Includes new artwork by Roger Dean. 2001 release.
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Seriously, the first time I heard this, I got teary-eyed listening to these songs again in a way that I have always dreamed of hearing them. I’ll admit right here that it took several years before Bernie Shaw’s vocals grew on me. I always thought that David Byron was irreplacable. And he is I suppose, but Shaw has a great voice for Heep’s style of music, and he really and truly shines on this album, as does everyone else. Sound quality is first-rate, rivaling the quality of studio recordings. I had to dig out my old copy of the “Different World” album after listening to “Cross That Line” and “Different World” on this one. I didn’t pay those songs much attention until I heard this live set. They really are beautiful songs.Other favorites are “The Easy Road”, “Shadows and the Wind”, and “Wonderworld”. All take on new life with this orchestral arrangement. I played this for a friend of mine who thought that the musical arrangement reminded him of Andrew Lloyd Webber. He meant it as a compliment, as he is a Webber fan. I don’t know much about ALW myself. But I think I see his point, as the arrangements are quite complex, yet sound simple. Heck, I’d recommend this CD to anybody, no matter what kind of music they like! This has universal appeal.
In response to the guy below who wanted the song list, here it is. Sorry it wasn’t in my previous review. The songs are the same ones that are on the CD, but Echoes In The Dark comes first on the DVD instead of third, as on the CD. On the CD it is listed as track 4, but I’m not counting the talking introduction, which they list as track 1.Echoes In The Dark; Why Did You Go; The Easy Road; Come Back To Me; Cross That Line; The Golden Palace; Shadows And The Wind; Wonderworld; Different World; Circus; Blind Eye; Traveller In Time; More Fool You; Lady In Black; Medley (The Wizard; Paradise; Circle Of Hands).Ian Anderson appears on Circus and Blind Eye. Produced by Pip Williams. Featuring the Uriah Heep Classic Rock Ensemble–A female string quartet, along with a flute player (another one besides Ian), three background singers (all female), and a few other assorted instruments that I’m not sure what they’re called.I cannot stress how good this all sounds and looks. A first-rate production all the way. Heep fan or not, you will enjoy this. I’ve shown it to several friends who are not into Heep, and they too were blown away, sometimes requesting repeated viewings. If anyone out there has been disappointed, I have yet to hear about it. Get it while you still can folks! And if you can’t locate the DVD right away, at least do yourself the favor of buying the music CD to hold you over. Excellent quality on both.
“Yeah, sure”, I was thinking, “every band now has to do the obligatory “Unplugged” album, so Heep’s putting one out as well…”. Of course, as a long-time Uriah Heep fan, I expected it to be a good, solid effort, but nothing prepared me for what I heard:I’ve been a Heepster for years. I have virtually everything they’ve ever recorded, from 1970 onwards. And after playing this disc pretty much daily for the past two months, I’m coming to the conclusion that this might actually be the best thing they’ve ever done. A brilliant choice of songs (some famous, some obscure, some rarely, if ever played, some current) from throughout most of the band’s history (although the John Sloman and Peter Goalby eras are not surprisingly omitted), brilliantly arranged, and performed with a whole host of guest musicians, ranging from a string quartet, a ulieann piper, and a host of female backup singers, to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson on flute. Highlights include “The Easy Road”, one of the band’s most gorgeous ballads from 1974, on which vocalist Bernie Shaw practically channels the spirit of David Byron, “Circus” and “Blind Eye” with Ian Anderson, the Lee Kerslake-penned “Come Back To Me” with soulful female backing vocals, and all of the contemporary material, especially “Cross That Line”, and “The Golden Palace”. This is by far the best live album I have ever heard, by Heep or anyone else, and deserves a place in any rock fan’s collection.
It was just a few years back that I was discussing with other Uriah Heep fans what an “unplugged” acoustic set of the bands’ material would sound like and what songs out of their vast catalog would be included. At the time it was just a little game we played, and we never expected such a thing to become reality. But I doubt that even the most elaborate dreams and fantasies of we fans could have matched the reality of this album. For most of it’s all-too-brief 75 minutes, Acoustically Driven is awe-inspiring in its magnificent beauty. The vast majority of the set contains tunes that Heep has seldom if ever performed live, and the quality of these songs testify to the consistent strength of the songwriting the band has maintained throughout their career, as well as providing a welcome alternative to the rest of the live Heep albums availible, which tend to feature more or less the same group of songs. And with an orchestral backing and even a renown guest artist (Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson) playing on a couple of tracks, the stage is set for greatness. Indeed, it is not exaggeration to say that AD can hold its own with the very best of live rock albums from any era, and that the beauty of some moments on this album can match anything done by Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, Led Zeppelin, or Yes. Throw in a Roger Dean cover and a fully informative booklet and you’ve got an irresistible package. Some of the many highlights include “The Easy Road,” arguably the bands’ loveliest song, performed here in all its poignancy; the incredibly epic “Golden Palace” culled from the most recent studio album; “Cross That Line” and the title track from one of Heep’s more lightly regarded albums, Different World, given a facelift; the two aforementioned tracks on which Anderson performs “Circus” and “Blind Eye”; and two more magnificent tracks from the Wonderworld album, the classic title track and the rousing “Shadows and the Wind.” And then there is the incredible finale – a medley of three of the most awesome songs from the band’s fourth release, Demons and Wizards, the greatest studio album ever recorded. The medley blends all three together seamlessly and the effect on the listener is indescribable. The only shortcoming on this instant classic is perhaps “Traveller in Time” and “More Fool You”, two songs that were designed for a heavy electric guitar riff and don’t sound quite right in this format. But even so the performances of these two songs juxtaposed together is quite excellent as well. For years, critics have dismissed Uriah Heep as (at best) a heavy metal curio, a subpar Purple-Zeppelin imitator, or a bunch of old geezers hanging on trying to recpature the fifteen minutes of fame they had in the early seventies. Acoustically Driven once and for all puts the lie to those ignorant critics. This is not only probably the best rock bands out there today, it is one of the greatest bands in rock history as well.