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Sweet Freedom

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★★★★½
(10 Reviews)

Uriah Heep Biography - Uriah Heep Discography - All Heavy Metal Bands

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Another Rock Best Seller Given an Overdue Facelift. Including Deluxe Packaging, Bonus Tracks and an Expansive Booklet with Rare Memorabilia and Photos. Bonus Tracks Are ”Sunshine”, ”Seven Stars (Extended Version)”, ”Pilgrim (Extended Version”, ”if I Had Time (Demo Alternate Live Version)” and ”Stealin’ (Alternate Live Version)”.

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  • The sixth studio album by Uriah Heep, SWEET FREEDOM is miles and above a better album than the former, creatively fractured THE MAGICIAN’S BIRTHDAY. The album is cohesive as a whole, as well as seeming to show the group working together as a whole; even though Hensley again writes the bulk of the material. Whether, he simply got better at writing for the group, or they rose to his style of songwriting; it works. Where the previous album suffered for the slow and lengthy mellow numbers, even when SWEET FREEDOM goes there, many elements of the Rock band behind it all, shine through; rather than lying stagnant in the water. Then there’s the fact that when SWEET FREEDOM rocks: it f**kin’ ROCKS! Even though Byron returns to that bristling flasetto, he tried using on an outtake from THE MAGICIAN’S BIRTHDAY (“Crystal Ball”); this time it made it to the album, albeit in a slightly modified and more palatable form. I will only say that TMB gets more credit than it deserves because of the superb Dean artwork.

    Of the bonus tracks; “Sunshine” is a fantastic outtake that could only be improved by trimming the repeated chorus from the overlong ending. The full version of “Seven Stars” is a tasty treat for anyone who’s a big fan of Psychedelia, with it’s longer acoustic and synth driven intro. The album version is quite well served by the concise and abrupt intro that emphasizes the start of some serious cock-rockin’; but this lengthier alternate version continues on for more than a minute after the reciting of the ABC’s, and comes much closer to what Uriah Heep achieved live than most studio recordings. The extended version of “Pilgrim” differs at the 2:50 mark, where the extended version continues with another 29 second ‘Elfen’ chorus before the bombastic rockin’ organ solo. The guitar solo is extended by a full 32 seconds, however, and makes this version worthy of inclusion. The demo for “If I Had The Time” is a completely different arrangement, that bears little resemblance with it’s buried piano riffs, to the trippy synthesizer oriented album version. The vocals of the album track are produced enough to remind one of a Pink Floyd resemblance, while the demo vocals are hardly produced at all. The lyrics themselves are quite interestingly delivered in an entirely different manner. The album version is slightly slower and stripped down to it’s bare essentials, in order to emphasize the lyric and bring a depth that the demo hardly approaches. Even though the vocals for the demo start around the 30 second mark, where the album track doesn’t start till a minute and 15 seconds; the demo is a full 24 seconds longer! A fascinating window into the creative process of Uriah Heep. The live versions of “Sweet Freedom” and “Stealin” are fine additions to this great album; “Stealin” moreso, for the intro about cowboys and Texans! All in all, one of the best from The Heep Remasters series!

    Posted on January 21, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • simple search, transaction, and receipt on of the best purchasing experiences i have ever had, and i am 51. logged of kind of wondering if this is too good to be true, but hey for once no catch, no gimmicks, complete satisfaction. as for URIAH HEEP – SWEET FREEDOM i’ve been looking off and on for several years, just didn’t think this could still be available. unless a serious rocker for old hardly anyone remembers, or have heard of them. immediately opened, played, and WOW!!! now i remember why i wore out the album and 2 cassettes of SWEET FREEDOM!!! thanx! robin

    Posted on January 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • First released in 1973,this was their follow-up to ‘Magicians Birthday’,as well as Uriah’s seventh effort.I’m just now discovering something,but I’ve never previously known about this album for some reason(s).Thought I had every one of their ’70’s releases on cassette at one time.I’ve ALWAYS wondered where “Stealin’” had originally come from.Couldn’t find it on their other lp’s,so I assumed it was a single-only available track when it first came out.Anyway,this is a pretty decent reissue CD,with the lp’s original eight cuts+six worthy bonus tunes tagged on for your listening pleasure.Best songs are,of course “Stealin’”,title track “Sweet Freedom”,”If I Had The Time” and the rocking “Seven Stars”.Good heavy British rock&roll.

    Posted on January 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I have been listening to this band since the summer of 1980 when my brother’s group used to perform both “The Wizard” and “Stealin’” in their stage sets. It was the same year I discovered UFO, another truly fine British metal band, and the wondrous Moodies, so I would say it was a very useful and productive year for rock discoveries as a teenager.

    This was my first Heep album, definitely not my last, and I’m very pleased to say that, after all these years, this album still stands up as solid and consistent a Heep classic lineup opus as any of the others often bantered about verbally. Now, a lot of people dismiss this as the album with “the hit” on it, but it’s my second favorite in the Heep catalog, and I still feel the magic each time I play it from that great summer so long ago. okay, I confess, this album is a treasure to me for the most unapologetically sentimental reasons. I hope someone else out there feels the same, regardless of what Ken Hensley and others have said about it.

    “Dreamer:” A good, funky blues rock opener that’s not a favorite track, but it definitely far from sucks. Check David Byron’s great, spirited vocal performance, the best thing about it.

    “Stealin’:” The hit, and what a hit. Still played in heavy rotation here in the States after all these years, one cannot deny every classic moment of this fun cowboy song. I just think it’s very funny that they tried to ban this song because of the line, “I done the rancher’s daughter.” Please, it seems so polite compared to…well, I can’t say that here, so how about nailed? That’s borderline rude, at least. Mick Box’s guitar solo and Ken Hensley’s organ are what really make this one of the greatest Heep songs ever recorded, and without the distinctive vocal stylings of Mr. Byron, it just wouldn’t be the same.

    “One Day:” It’s hard to believe the band was going through all kinds of personal mayhem while recording this album with such uplifting, emotional songs as this in the mix. Considering that fact, maybe lines like “And though I’ve traveled across the desert of despair, I knew I’d get there one day” need to be read into more.

    “Sweet Freedom:” Among the strongest songs on SF, the song is as powerful as it is touching and sweet in its forgiving breakup stance. It is a classic heep ballad with all the hallmarks of those from other albums during that era, and is still a favorite of fans today.

    “If I Had the Time:” Beautiful melody and always a personal favorite of mine. Play this a few times when you’re in a bad mood, really channel into it, and see if its message doesn’t work on you:

    “If I had the time to relive my life
    I don’t think I’d care to change a thing
    As long as I find just a little peace of mind
    I can dream and laugh and I can sing.”

    “Seven Stars:” This song is just great, and I love Ken’s organ on it. Lee Kerslake’s drum fills are really brought to the foreground here more than other tracks, and you imagine he was pretty much winded after the final take. Check out Byron singing the alphabet backward and foreward nearing the song’s end!

    “Circus:” Always my favorite track, a lowkey acoustic ballad with a latin jazz influence copenned by Box, Kerslake, and Gary Thain who also happens to be one of the best bassists from the 70’s rock era. The song sounds just a bit like ELP’s “From the Beginning,” and describes the weariness and fatigue I often feel at the phoniness of some of the people I know.

    “Pilgrim:” What a great wah-wah guitar, grinding organ driven epic about the disasters that befall someone who is all wrapped up in a power trip after starting out with good enough intentions. The pilgrim tells his tale of how he compromised his values of love and freedom for the egotistical headtrip of being a ruler through his wartime victories. “Those of us who don’t know war,” he states, “We shouldn’t try to make it.” He tells of how the cheers of the crowds made him swell and he lost the woman he loved over it. The last lines are the most revealing:

    “I only knew I had to win and build a world where I was king
    But leaders come and leaders go and that’s the truth I came to know.
    Love or war I couldn’t choose, and so both I had to lose.”

    One can take that on an symbolic personal level as well: Be wary of what you’re after, or you will lose the things that you discover all too late really matter. Well done!

    As far as the bonus tracks go, I can live without “Sunshine,” a throwaway B-side from the “Stealin’” single, and definitely one of the band’s most unfocused cuts from that time. Extended versions of both “Seven Stars” and “Pilgrim” are welcom treasures, and the piano driven demo of “If I Had the Time” is interesting if a bit raw and awkward. The live recording of “Sweet Freedom” sounds so close to the studio recording, you really get an idea how good a live band this lineup was, and the live version of “Stealin’” is also very well done and more fun than the studio recording.

    I would like to add that this version includes great liner notes, photos, and the lyrics,so you’re really getting a great buy here. I would also like to express my regret that I wasn’t old enough to appreciate this lineup because I was a little kid, and regret that, due to Gary Thain and David Byron’s passing, we will never get to experience a reunion. Heep have gone through several vocalists over the years and, though they were all capable, there was nobody like David Byron. He was one of a kind, and I have never heard anyone who sounds quite like him. Buy Sweet Freedom, even if you don’t feel the same passion for it that I do. It’s a quality album in any decade.

    Posted on January 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Formed in 1969 Uriah Heep rode the wave of Hard/Progressive Rock that swept over the music world in the beginning of the Seventies, changing the face of popular music for ever. Uriah Heep never managed to make the final leap to the premier league of rock music during this era, unlike their peers Deep Purple; Black Sabbath; Led Zeppelin; the Rolling Stones; Genesis; Pink Floyd; etc., but every year they would make the play off’s in Division One. No matter how much the lineup changed, they always kept a large, ever loyal, following.

    With their harmony vocals, swirling Hammond organ, and wah-wah guitar, they soon became known as the Beach Boys of hard rock. When this English Quintet’s debut album was released, one journalist with a name American Magazine started the review with the condemning words “If this band makes it, I’ll have to commit suicide”. Well, I do not know what happened to the journalist, probably condemned to writing bylines for the Jersey Knitting monthly on dog shows, but over thirty years later Mick Box is still leading Uriah Heep to sold-out concert halls around the world; although it must be admitted to diminishing record sales.

    Over the years Uriah Heep’s lineup has changed dramatically. Five lead singers for a kick off, and the loss of founding member, keyboard, and slide guitar player Ken Hensley in 1980, who also co-wrote six of the eight songs on display here, was nearly a mortal blow. However, there was always the most cheerful man in rock, and lead guitarist extraordinaire, Mick Box to pick up the pieces and start again with a new assemble.

    Uriah Heep’s first real taste of stardom was between 1972 and 1975, when the new rhythm section of Gary (The Thin Man) Thain and Hard Hittin’ Drummer Lee Kerslake (ex-Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, ex-Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz, before re-joining Uriah Heep, who he still plays with to this day) joined the existing nucleus of vocalist David Byron (probably has the largest range of vocal chords in rock), and one of its leading frontmen Ken Hensley, and the man still looking like he stepped right off the set of an American professional wrestling set, Mick Box, the man who put the whomp in wah-wah solos. For the three years before this lineup imploded into a back biting paradox of egos, they released four classy studio albums.

    ‘Demons and Wizards’ (1972)
    ‘The Magicians Birthday’ (only six months later, also in 1972)
    ‘Sweet Freedom’ (this album, 1973) and
    ‘Wonderworld’ (1974 – with the worst cover ever released in the history of rock)

    This line-up also recorded and released their seminal double live album ‘Uriah Heep Live’ (1973). So, if nothing else they were extremely productive.

    Although ‘Sweet Freedom’ is not really a classic Uriah Heep album, it certainly contains some classic songs such as Ken Hensley’s rocker “Stealin’”, which is a must play in the Uriah Heep live set to this day, some thirty years later. With its opening driving bass rhythms and subdued organ entrance you are immediately seduced by its hypnotic beat. Then the gas is turned on and the whole band come rockin’ in. David Byron’s vocals are amongst the best he ever laid down, and although all the singers, who have taken up the Heep’s microphone since, have had a go at bending their tonsils around “Stealin’”, none of them has ever managed to capture the devil may care delivery of Heep’s original singer. Although this is credited as a Ken Hensley song, you feel that David Byron should of been given a credit for his ad-libbed vocals at the end. Add to that the rock solid drumming of Lee Kerslake, and a devastating guitar solo from Mr. Box, you have an all time rock ‘n’ roll classic.

    Sadly, the rest of the album does not necessarily live up to the standards set by the second song. The title track and closing epic ‘Pilgrim’ (clocking in at over seven minutes) are still included in the present day’s Uriah Heep lineup repertoire, and would make any Greatest Hits Collection. `Seven Stars’ is a fine Heep rocker that takes a great twist at the end as David Byron chants the alphabet backwards and forwards at his audience. So all in all perhaps not an essential Uriah Heep album, but certainly not one that disappoints.

    Although Uriah Heep are still going today, enjoying a new burst of commercial success, sadly David Byron and Gary Thain are no longer with us. However, they left behind a fine legacy in their music.

    Scrawled by Mott The Dog
    Given a Dickensian touch by Ella Crew

    Posted on January 20, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now