Uriah Heep – Abominog

   1982 Bronze/Mercury

Why this album wasn’t a massive hit upon its release in 1982 will forever be a mystery to me.  However, one must think that the absolutely godawful cover graphic might have something to do with it.  Never before or since in the history of rock has there been an album cover more belying of the actual sound of the music itself, surely an attempt to attract the attention of early 80’s headbangers.

It’s a shame, because this is really an AOR classic, its sound shamelessly commercial in the best possible way…without giving up an ounce of integrity, given the band’s prog-doodling past as a forerunner of the heavy metal genre.  This disc sits sonically with the best music Foreigner or Journey ever made, though with loads more integrity and honest emotion and drama.

Peter Goalby’s husky and tuneful vocals lift these songs to higher ground, while the hooks in the music are plentiful.  This is a commercial rock album saturated with a real ‘classic’ feel, probably testimony to the respective histories of the band members themselves.

“Too Scared To Run” kicks things off with a gallop similar to Heep’s classic “Easy Livin’,” though the similarities end there.  “On The Rebound” is a song I always thought should have been a major, major hit with its cool synth noises, pulsing (gulp) dance beat, rousing melodies and Goalby’s passionate vocals.

They actually did manage a minor hit with “That’s The Way That It Is” (top 40), though it absolutely should have been a chart topper as it crushes the best commercial rock hits of the time.  The guitar and keyboard textures smack of a commerciality that screams “honest hit” rather than “sell out.”

Elsewhere “Chasing Shadows,” “Prisoner,” “Hot Persuasion” and “Think It Over” provide exclamation points on a disc overflowing with melodic hooks and AOR prowess.  Even old Heep fans had to admit this was really good stuff.

This album is everything that was GOOD about AOR.  If you’ve never heard it, now’s as good of a time as any to check it out for yourself.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5


6-23-09:  I just found the video for “That’s The Way That It Is”  on YouTube.   Man is is painful to watch whatwith all the typical early MTV video trappings (motorcycles, et al) but just close your eyes and listen to a hit that never quite was.

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