Review Summary: Hard Rock genius from one of the world's most underrated bands.
LOOK AT YOURSELF
For a band to avoid considerable mainstream success for almost 40 years in the US and UK, yet remain one of the most successful progressive rock bands of all time, makes the mind boggle. Uriah Heep is that band. Though they are still featured on just about every classic rock compilation CD in the world, Heep have barely been in the public eye since the 70s, when singles such as ‘The Wizard’. ‘Stealin’ and ‘Easy Livin’ scored massive hits yet failed to secure the band a place at the top. Perhaps it was the unfortunate timing that the band was releasing such singles; as the seminal band Deep Purple were also playing a similar, yet more accessible style of music at the same time. In any case, 1971 saw Heep release a gem of an album, often considered as their best and a forerunner for the progressive metal genre.
Heep’s vocalist at the time, and easily their most respected, was David Byron; a vocalist who would remain insanely underrated until his untimely death in 1985. Often compared to Ian Gillan (the members of Heep often were compared to their Deep Purple counterparts due to their similar music style), July Morning is often seen as his finest moment, showcasing an outstanding vocal range from quiet, relatively low singing to high pitch over the top wails and screams. His vocals shine throughout the album, with his astonishing range and sense of dynamics the focal point of his ability. Songs such as ‘I Wanna Be Free’ even show Byron singing in a Bowie-esque style, albeit with a much larger range.
Mick Box is sometimes seen as the front man of Uriah Heep, despite being the guitarist. He remains the only founding member of the group today and is without doubt one of the most naturally gifted guitarists never to achieve global success. His impeccable guitar fills and solos are not only mind blowing, but also perfectly placed in each song, and his acoustic guitar playing, though rare on this album, is beautiful.
The keyboardist of the band at the time was Ken Hensley. Hensley’s talents, however, were not just limited to the keys. He also played organ and guitars, as well as singing lead vocals on the album’s title track. Hensley’s skill was undisputed on all his instruments, and his vocals were also rather impressive, though no match to Byron, of course. What is perhaps more impressive, however, is that Hensley wrote, or at least co-wrote, every song on the album. (and how many people can say that they written a song that influenced a Bulgarian tradition, namely July Morning?...)
The rhythm section for the album was comprised of Paul Newton on bass guitar and Ian Clarke on drums. Though Look At Yourself would be the only album both men featured on together, with Clarke leaving early the following year, the two showcase a great partnership, similar to that of Scott Rockenfield and Eddie Jackson of Queensryche. There are many examples on the album of Clarke following Newton’s galloping bass lines, an idea that undoubtedly influenced such bands as Iron Maiden. This strong collaboration sets a firm backbone for the album.
In all this album is certainly a landmark album of the 70’s (though that could be said for any of Heep’s first four studio albums). Look At Yourself certainly influenced progressive and experimental music for the future (yes, I know both of those terms are frowned upon here, so what, bite me) and set the standard for non-mainstream, uncommercialised rock and metal for the remainder of the 70’s. And for a band to still be playing in stadium sized venues across Central Europe in their late 50’s, they must have done something right, right?
Look At Yourself
What Should Be Done