URIAH HEEP - "2000 Boiled Eggs"
by Martin Popoff
Grinding Hammond hard rockers Uriah Heep are finally back with a new studio album, Wake The Sleeper being an explosive, hard rocking collection of new songs, the first, in fact, for the band since 1998's Sonic Origami, that one in itself follow-up to one of the great comeback albums of all time, 1995's Sea Of Light.
But as things go for heritage acts, as guitarist Mick Box explains, there's a thriving life beyond new music...
"We are actually heading into a whole period of working with Wake The Sleeper, to be honest, and that's taken our focus," begins the affable guitarist and beating heart of Heep for nigh on 40 years. "But we've done some interesting things along the way. We just played in a prison, in Rotenberg, Germany, to like 620 inmates, and that was just an incredible situation. We were invited to play there because the next night we were doing a headliner gig at the Rock Of Ages festival in Germany. The warden phoned our management and we said, 'Look, it would be easy to set up, because we've got all our equipment there, so we'll bring it along.' That was a strange one, because you're not playing to 620 Uriah Heep fans. They're not in there as Uriah Heep fans (laughs). But what was most beautiful about the power of music in my eyes, was the fact the one of our big songs in Europe is called 'Free Me' (laughs), and we had wardens and inmates standing side by side screaming, 'Free me!' - an incredible feeling. It was really funny also because that's off an album called Innocent Victim. Obviously it got a lot of media attention, which was great. And then we played in a salt mine in Merkers in East Germany, where Hitler used to store all his gold. It took two hours to ferry the audience down, and then it took forever to get our equipment down and us down, but it was incredible. It was an acoustic show, and everybody started off wearing a white hard hat, so it was like playing to 2000 boiled eggs. But in the end they relaxed and took their hats off. And then of course, along the way, we were the first band to play in Russia, December of '87 when glasnost was formed, and Gorbachev and Reagan were having their peace talks. So we did some strange ones along the way, but that's what being a musician is all about, really."
Wake The Sleeper is what being a musician is all about as well. This is a bracing, rollicking record with chemistry aplenty. Box agrees, taking a comparative look at the band's three fine albums of the modern era.
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