||KEN HENSLEY & LIVE FIRE
Release Date: 7th October 2013
Heep big Ken in heep big trouble... again.
You would have thought that, with his stellar position in the rock firmament assured, Mr Hensley would now be enjoying a life of leisure at his home in Southern Spain. In fact, the sun and sangria have served only to spur him to somewhat of a creative renaissance over the last 10 years.
2006s semi-autobiographical rock opera 'Blood On The Highway' was a fine piece of work, embellished by the holy vocal trinity of Hughes, Lande and Lawton. Shortly after that album's release, he established his current band Live Wire. Initially intended as a vehicle to take the Hensley songbook on the road, it's acted as a catalyst that's driven him to new creative peaks.
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This latest collection of songs is an excellent addition to the Kensley Kanon, full of trademark Hammond-drenched riffage and snatches of slinky slide guitar.
It's entirely fitting that the excellent sleeve notes include a 'umble tribute by the man to his very 'eavy compadres from the classic early 70s Heep line-up.
Kudos to Roberto Tiranti who pulls a fine double-shift on bubbly bass and a commanding vocal style that melds the soul of Sloman and tone of Byron. Rich vocal harmonies are present and correct, only don't expect Byronesque gravity-defying operatics.
Live Fire are honouring a legacy rather looking to replicate, reproduce or revisit. Smart move, as the songs are more than good enough to stand scrutiny even without the Heepish arrangements.
In general, the tempo and feel of the album is more light than dark, more 'Sweet Lorraine' than 'Sunrise', typified by opening salvo of 'Ready To Die' and the pairing of insanely catchy title track and 'Todo Loco'. That being said, the two more introspective songs 'You Will Always Be Mine' and 'I Don't Know' are impressive and touching.
Overall, 'Trouble' is a great listen from beginning to end, with many of the tracks begging for live delivery. In fact, latest updates indicate that there are plans for Live Fire to tour, with Germany, Finland, Spain and Ukraine mentioned as key destinations.
Naturally, it would be great to see a more extensive itinerary across Europe, so be sure to get hold of a copy of the album and spread the word.