Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Ken Hensley - Blood On The Highway

Keyboardist, guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Ken Hensley has returned with his new concept album, Blood On The Highway: When Too Many Dreams Come True. The album is a companion to a book of the same name that also tells the story of the rock & roll dream as recounted by former Uriah Heep member Hensley.

If ever an album screamed "make me into a musical production" before, this warrants it. The appeal of seeing, hearing and feeling the rise of a rock star, the fears, the betrayals, the relationships that isolate, temptation, redemption... it's all here. The album sings to life with the opening strains of "(This Is) Just The Beginning." All rock bands start from the dream whether it's to play in front of thousands of fans, to put out an album or to write the perfect song. A line from the song says it all: "Give me five guys that can rock, who don't know how to stop. Send them ten times round the block just to add a little mystery. Give me radio with balls, someone to help us fill the halls. And we can grab ourselves a piece of rock and roll history." (Yes, this alludes to the 5-piece classic Uriah Heep and their manager Gerry Bron.) The track sets the stage for "We're On Our Way" telling of the group's touring and ascent. I'm not going to ruin the story for you but what I can say is that there are some tremendous performances on this album which grows on the listener quickly. Former Trapeze/Deep Purple/Black Sabbath member Glenn Hughes, John Lawton (of Uriah Heep), Jorn Lande and Eve Gallagher provide compelling vocals on the disc. Being able to step back from a song and allow another vocalist to step in really says something about the confidence Hensley has in the songs and humility in the concept.

Ken Hensley has presented the roller coaster that is rock stardom on Blood On The Highway in a package full of hooks, dynamic layers and deft songcraft. I can only wait to get my hands on the autobiography of the same name.

4.5 out of 5

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