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Articles Home » 1983 Articles » Uriah Heep - 1983 Head First
 
Uriah Heep - 1983 Head First



ARTIST: Uriah Heep
ALBUM: Head First
LABEL: Bronze
SERIAL: BRON 545
YEAR: 1983
CD REISSUE: 1997, Essential (UK), ESMCD572 * 2005, Sanctuary (UK), SMRCD186

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Pete Goalby - vocals * Mick Box - guitars * John Sinclair - keyboards * Bob Daisley - bass * Lee Kerslake - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Other Side Of Midnight * 02 Stay On Top * 03 Lonely Nights * 04 Sweet Talk * 05 Love Is Blind * 06 Roll Overture * 07 Red Lights * 08 Rollin' The Rock * 09 Straight Through The Heart * 10 Weekend Warriors * 11 Playing For Time (Bonus) * 12 Searching (Bonus)

WEBLINKS: www.uriah-heep.com


Background
Not many people could have predicted the success of 1982's 'Abominog'. After all it had been just two years earlier the band had all but dissolved following 'Conquest'. But the positive reviews that greeted the classy AOR and hard rock mixture on 'Abominog' saw Heep quickly back in the studio, where they recorded 'Head First'. The lineup remained the same until Bob Daisley left following recording, to return to Ozzy Osbourne's band. He was replaced by Trevor Bolder who had been a member of Heep in the 70's. Regardless the album was another worthy accomplishment.


The Songs
Although the same style was utilized musically, Heep had enough talent to keep it fresh. They had adopted the classic early 80's AOR sound which incorporated heavy use of synthesizers and go for broke choruses. But they also retained the hard rock backing which was their 70's backbone. 'The Other Side Of Midnight' is a brilliant opener and was supposed to be the first single off the album until Bronze foolishly opted to go with Heep's cover of Bryan Adams 'Lonely Nights'. Adams' original was hardly a smash, it reached 84 on Billboard. 'Stay On Top' is an instant classic, with it's huge group choruses and overblown keyboards. A hard song to get sick of. But they all are. 'Sweet Talk' and 'Love Is Blind' are state of the art AOR without ever lacking power in the backing department. Mick Box had done a good job of adapting his 70's style to a modern 80's melodic sheen. 'Roll-Overture' reminds me of John Sinclair's 'Overture' with the Heavy Metal Kids in 1976. Same concept, with grandiose musical passages and classical synths. Sinclair had been successful in changing Heep's sound from the Ken Hensley's organ dominated 70's vibe, to the boundaries of AOR. Having said that 'Red Lights' is a throwback to the 70's, a fast paced and dangerous rocker with some 70's type riffing. 'Rollin The Rock' starts out quietly, before exploding into a great hook, the closest the album comes to a ballad. 'Straight Through The Heart' is noteworthy for Sinclair's awesome keys, but the whole band is on fire. Musically they rank with the best of the genre. 'Weekend Warriors' ends the album on an epic note, a heavy rock number free of AOR overtones. My remastered copy of the album contains an unreleased track, 'Playing For Time' which brings back the organ and sounds like it fell off 78's 'Fallen Angel'. There is also a live cut of 'The Wizard' from Auckland in 1984. Typical crowd disinterest at a Kiwi concert!


In Summary
Due to bad promotion 'Head First' failed when it was equal to, if slightly better than 'Abominog'. Heep tried again in 1985 with another slice of AOR, 'Equator', which was excellent also, but a further sales dud. Goalby and Sinclair would quit and be replaced by ex Grand Prix men, vocalist Bernie Shaw (also ex Praying Mantis) and keyboardist Phil Lanzon. Amazingly the lineup continues to this day. But they will never top this album or the overall period of 1982-85. 'Head First' is a genuinely unrecognised classic that stands up with other 83' giants like Journey's 'Frontiers'. Not only were Heep talented, but they have stood the test of time.


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Comments
#1 | dangerzone on October 10 2008 17:01:28
I had no idea 'Love is Blind' appeared on John O' Banions 1981 album.
#2 | gdazegod on October 10 2008 19:54:53
No doubt similar to Saxon covering Christopher Cross' 'Ride Like The Wind'.. lol!
#3 | englandashes on April 03 2009 22:38:07
Still stands as my favourite Uriah Heep album. Must be close to one of the best British melodic rock albums ever, however not forgetting the American and Canadian influence with the couple of covers. Tracks 6 to 10 just seem to merge into one great melodic symphony.
 
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