Hensley, Ken & Free Spirit - Running Blind

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Record Heaven
Catalog Number: RHCD62
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:58:00

Live January 1973 by Uriah Heep was the very first album I ever bought with my own money. Having saved for weeks and weeks I chose this album because it came as two albums priced a little bit more than a single one, which to me sounded more like "great value for money" in my ears than the music itself! Ever since I listened to the band's Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble album on a lousy turntable in my French cousin's bedroom, I was mostly impressed by Hensley's organ playing. I tried to find his Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf solo album but couldn't locate it for years until I found a secondhand copy a couple of years ago. But I never came around giving it a spin because in my household CD has taken over completely, although I still have tons of vinyl around me. Knowing of the sudden interest in Uriah Heep, it was with pleasure that I received the new solo album by Ken Hensley, certainly one of the major attractions within the immortal Uriah Heep.

I remember I felt sad when Heep bass player Gary Thain passed away. I felt even worse when singer David Byron died. Now that Hensley has decided to turn his back on Heep and continue under the moniker of Ken Hensley's Free Spirit, again I find it difficult to accept. But here comes a brand new album called Running Blind starting with an absolute masterpiece in the form of the instrumental "Overture: 'La Tristeza Secreta De Un Corazon Gitano'/Prelude: A Minor Life." It has the power of a real symphonic arrangement before the immortal organ takes over and introduces a pure rock structure. And strange as it may seem, rock will be the majority on this album, although personally I would have thought to expect a bigger solo impact. Because Hensley also lends his backing voice to songs such as "Lady In Black", "July Morning" and "The Wizard," to name but three, his voice sounds familiar, making the immediate link with Uriah Heep as one can witness during the rocking "Out Of My Control." Written in the same kind of way "You've Got It (The American Dream)" continues with the same drive. Great organ and fierce guitars introduce "The Final Solution" which has your hair stand up in the back of your neck!

Sometimes the songs have a mellow feel to them, which doesn't really tie in with the idea one has of Hensley the true rocker. Listen to "It's Up To You" and then think of Steve Miller and you understand what I'm on about. "Finney's Tale" could even be from the likes of Brotherhood Of Man what with its main acoustic feel and slight country-ish flavour. "I Don't Wanna Wait" then again is the kind of pop material one could easily associate with the likes of Smokie. A wonderful acoustic song filled with brilliant string arrangements is offered by means of "I Close My Eyes." One can clearly hear these are real strings here, the beauty of which is emphasized by means of the splendid rendition by guitarist Dave Kilminster. Ken continues in the same atmosphere by means of the ballad "A Little Piece Of Me (Julia's Song)" where his voice slightly sounds like a younger version of Willie Nelson! Then all energy is put back in the right place during the steaming track "Free Spirit," including some great slide guitar. One of the Hensley trademarks is to have his organ play together with the guitars thus creating a much fatter sound, as is apparent during the intro for "Movin' In." The album closes with the fierce rocker "Tell Me" in which it's "all systems go" for the final time.

To my surprise Running Blind is a great collection of rockers and ballads instead of the pure keyboard oriented album I was expecting. Therefore I'm sure it'll please Uriah Heep fans as if it was an album by their favourite band anyway. Knowing Hensley has written some classic Heep tunes over the years, no doubt with the combination of this material and some heavy Heep stuff, Ken Hensley's Free Spirit will be an act surely not to be missed!

Overture: "La Tristeza Secreta De UnCorazon Gitano" (Pt. 1) (2:29) / Prelude: A Minor Life (2:54) / Out Of Control (5:01) / You've Got It (The American Dream) (3:30) / The Final Solution (3:35) / It's Up To You* (5:04) / Finney's Tale (3:01) / I Close My Eyes (4:53) / A Little Piece Of Me (Julia's Song) (3:09) / Free Spirit* (3:41) / Movin' In* (4:03) / Let Me Be Me (2:50) / I Don't Wanna Wait* (5:17) / Tell Me (4:24)

* Bonus Tracks

Ken Hensley - acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, dobro, vocals
Mike Johnson - drums
Steve Christy - drums (3, 4, 14)
Dave Wagstaffe - drums (13)
David Karns - bass
Andy Pyle - bass (10, 13, 14) John Wetton - bass (3, 4)
Dave Kilminster - acoustic and electric guitars
String Arrangements - Steve Schenkel
Rebecca Boyer, Amy Ohsira, Lorraine Glass-Harris - first violins
Julie Leonhardt, John McGrosso, Nicolas Bica - second violins
Arthur Dibble, Lynn Hague - viola
Beverly Field - cello

(solo only)
Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf (1973)
Eager To Please (1975)
Free Spirit (1980)
The Best Of Ken Hensley (1990)
From Time To Time (1994)
A Glimpse Of Glory (1999)
Ken Hensley Anthology (2000)
Running Blind (2001)

More Than Conquerors w/John Wetton (DVD) (2002)

Genre: Rock

Origin UK

Added: March 24th 2002
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.ken-hensley.com
Hits: 727
Language: english


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