Review Summary: Stay away from this.
"Innocent Victim" was Uriah Heep's 11th studio album and it was released in September 1977. It was the 2nd album that featured the band's new line-up: John Lawton; Mick Box; Ken Hensley; Trevor Bolder; Lee Kerslake. The band seemed to be heading for a new start. "Firefly" pushed away some of the traditional fans that enjoyed the band's previous works and ambitions. It was, though, way better than "High and Mighty" and gave Uriah Heep a 2nd chance. They could get back on top. Sadly, "Innocent Victim" represents a wasted opportunity, to say the least. It has a huge change, in terms of the band's style and direction. This album is directed towards the attention of the media. They have succeeded in that area, but they definietly alienated lots of the fans. "This album was a natural successor to our previous work", Mick Box mentioned. I couldn't disagree more. The band drifted away from its initial origins. Uriah Heep's aggressive and powerful sound seemed to disappear.
Let's put it this way: most of the songs aren't awfully bad. They're minimally hearable. But they're far from being good. There are only a few acceptable tracks. The album is almost entirely filled with radio-friendly songs that obviously provoked the fans' displeasure. This is far from being a Heep album. The songs' arrangements are messy and confusing, the production is dreadful and the musicianship seems to be absent. Even the members of the band seem so uninspired, bored and incredibly lazy. John Lawton and Trevor Bolder are the only ones that seem motivated and focused. John showcases his incredible voice and Trevor Bolder has some wicked bass lines throughout the album. Sadly, the rest of the crew isn't cooperative...
"Keep on Ridin'" is the album's opener and it just tells you what you're about to hear, throughout the whole album. Trevor Bolder punches in, with a funky bass riff that is actually pretty impressive. Unfortunately, the song is so pop-friendly... Plus, there are dramatic changes in the pace of the song that make you lose interest. "Flyin' High" follows the opener's path. It can be a little funnier and it's a pleasant song to listen to, but it's not a traditional Heep song. It's not a great start, and things can get a lot messier...
Then there are incredibly horrible songs. You listen to them once and you don't want to listen to 'em again. "Roller" is one of those songs. It's just like a train wreck. It has nothing to do with the band. It's way too funky for my taste. Mick Box's guitar riffs barely make the song more interesting. The solo saves it from being a total disaster. Then there are songs that were just searching for the attention of the media. Songs like "The Dance" or "Free Me". A song that became so popular with the masses. A song that gave the band a whole new world of brand new fans and alienated many of the traditional fans. Wow, that song sucks! The lyrics are surprisingly lame, predictable and cheesy. Ken Hensley is far below expectations. What a flop.
There are some good songs, thank God. "Free 'n' Easy" is the song we were looking for. That song truly is awesome. It's one of the few songs that can be called a Heep song. Mick Box's incredible guitar riffs perfectly match John Lawton's high-pitched voice. A great harmony is created. Then there's the magnificent solo. "Cheat 'n' Lie" is also a good song that will cheer up the traditional fans. The chorus may be somewhat disappointing, but the song is rather good. "Illusion" tries to follow the band's previous successes, found in "Look at Yourself" and "Demons and Wizards", but it fails to deliver. It's not extremely bad, but it's nothin' special, sadly. It's not bad in context, though.
"Innocent Victim" was quite disappointing and, despite "Free Me"'s amazing, surprising success, it failed to chart in the UK --Not that I'm surprised-- Honestly, I don't recommend it. It's way too pop-driven and radio-friendly. This is only enjoyable if you can look through the fact that the players are surprisingly lazy and the songs are, with some exceptions, not memorable at all. "Innocent Victim" is just inexplicably unfinished and poor. The band was falling to pieces. They needed to settle down quickly.
Free 'n' Easy
Cheat 'n' Lie