Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Uriah Heep - Official Bootleg Volume III - Live In Kawasaki Japan 2010

Uriah Heep
Official Bootleg Volume III - Live In Kawasaki Japan 2010
Edel Records/Riot! Entertainment/Warner Music Australia

Following on from two previous official bootleg recordings (2010’s ‘Official Bootleg - Live At Sweden Rock Festival 2009’ and 2010’s ‘Official Bootleg Volume II - Live In Budapest Hungary 2010’), legendary progressive/hard rock outfit Uriah Heep have produced their long awaited third instalment of officially sanctioned live recordings with ‘Official Bootleg Volume III - Live In Kawasaki Japan 2010’.
Given my disappointment in the band’s first couple of live bootlegged efforts, I was really hoping for something a little more befitting of the band’s legacy, and something more indicative of the band’s actual live performances (The first bootleg was trimmed down to a single C.D., which meant that some of the show was cut in order to fit to disc, while the second bootleg, despite featuring the band’s full performance over two discs, saw the sound quite muddy and flat). And true to the short message penned by guitarist/vocalist Mick Box on the back of the case, Uriah Heep deliver a stunning double disc set that is far more polished in sound on ‘Official Bootleg Volume III - Live In Kawasaki Japan 2010’ - making it a real must have for devoted fans of the veteran act.
While live albums aren’t exactly a rarity for Uriah Heep (No less than six live albums have been released since their last studio effort ‘Wake The Sleeper’ in 2008), it has to be said that with ‘Official Bootleg Volume III - Live In Kawasaki Japan 2010’, Uriah Heep have definitely put something special together. Aside from playing a selection of their hits and new tunes, this live recording (Taken from the band’s live show at Club Zitta in Kawasaki on 24th October 2010) also sees the band performing their classic 1972 album ‘Demons And Wizards’ in its entirety.
The band (Who aside from Box consist of vocalist Bernie Shaw, bassist/vocalist Trevor Bolder, keyboardist/vocalist Phil Lanzon and drummer/vocalist Russell Gilbrook) get the show off to a hard rocking start with two new tracks in ‘Wake The Sleeper’ and ‘Overload’, both of which show that there’s still plenty of fuel in the band’s tanks.
Shaw puts in a fantastic performance on the prog-rock classic ‘Bird Of Prey’ and the band’s hit single ‘Stealin’’, but it’s on the more recent ‘Love In Silence’ (One of my favourites from 1995’s ‘Sea Of Light’) that really stands out.
The remainder of the first disc sees the band playing their ‘Demons And Wizards’ album in chronological order, with the semi-acoustic based ‘The Wizard’, the grooving ‘Easy Livin’’, ‘All My Life’ (Both of which features some great slide guitar work from ex-Whitesnake/The Moody Marsden Band/Company Of Snakes legend Micky Moody) and the epic finale ‘Paradise/The Spell’ standing out as the real highlights on offer here.
On the second disc, Shaw once again puts in a spellbinding performance on the piano ballad ‘Rain’, before the band get back to rockier sounds with the metallic blast of ‘Free ‘n’ Easy’, the grinding organ sound of ‘Gypsy’ and a lively and spirited take on ‘Look At Yourself’.
Returning to the recent past, the band belt out a guitar heavier version of the blues based ‘Angels Walk With You’ and ‘Shadow’ from their last album (The latter appearing live on C.D. for the first time), before finishing things up with live staples/favourites ‘July Morning’ and ‘Lady In Black’.
After some less than stellar live recordings in recent times, it’s great to finally hear a release that does Uriah Heep justice, and to prove that while the band can still produce some great music in the studio (‘Wake The Sleeper’), they really do excel live onstage.
For Uriah Heep fans, ‘Official Bootleg Volume III - Live In Kawasaki Japan 2010’ really is a definitive live statement from the band, and a must have.

For more information on Uriah Heep, check out - http://www.uriah-heep.com/

© Justin Donnelly