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David Byron - Take No Prisoners (LP)

David Byron - Take No Prisoners (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: 2 stars **
Title:  Take No Prisoners
Company: Mercury
Catalog: SRM-1-1074
Year: 1975
Country/State: Essex, UK
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: --
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6109
Price: $15.00

I'll be the first to admit that lots of the Uriah Heep catalog is bland and outright irritating. That said, like it or not, to my ears the late David Byron's voice epitomizes mid-1970s heavy metal.

Five years into his Uriah Heep career Byron took advantage of a break in the former's schedule to record a solo set. Co-produced by Byron and Peter Gallen and backed by a big slice of Uriah Heep (guitarist Mick Box, keyboardist Ken Hensley, and drummer Lee Kerslake), it probably didn't come as a major surprise to learn that large parts of 1975's "Take No Prisoners' sounded quite a bit like a Uriah Heep product. That said, Byron also took the opportunity to record some material that never would have made the cut had this been a Heep project. As an example, it's hard to imagine the conventional ballad 'Love Song', or the pop flavored 'Streamin' Ahead' appearing on a Heep LP.

- Sporting Heep-styled keyboard and guitar, the quasi-progressive structured 'Man Full of Yesterdays' was actually fairly subtle for Byron and company. A nice melody, some understated mellotron from John Wetton (?), and one of Byron's best vocals made this one of the album's standout performances. rating: **** stars
- 'Sweet Rock n' Roll' found Byron taking a stab at a bluesy-Gospel number. Vocally it was kind of interesting to hear him singing in a lower register, but a horrible lyric surrounded by shrieky female backing singers and a plodding arrangement made for a song that was pretty lame and forgettable. rating: ** stars
- Powered by some disco-tinged synthesizers, 'Steamin' Ahead' was clearly an effort to expand Byron's audience to a broader pop audience. Mick Box deserved kudos for turning in a nice lead guitar solo, but the rest of the song was simply boring. rating: ** stars
- 'Silver White Man' found Byron returning to a more Heep-styled rock base. In spite of the Heep-styled lyrics, the song had a strong melody and once again, Byron reigned in some of his typical vocal excesses to give the track considerable appeal. rating: **** stars
- A straightforward and conventional ballad, 'Love Song' was another surprise. I'm not saying it was good, but this harpsichord flavored number would have sounded okay mid-1970s on top-40 radio. Easily as professional as anything Eric Carmen was pumping out ... Curiously the song sounded like it was faded out early. rating: ** stars
- 'Midnight Flyer ' opened side two with a decent rocker that managed to bounce between ominous movements and bar band giddiness. The song's best feature was actually the nifty Box guitar solo. rating: ** stars
- Hum, ever wanted to head what Uriah Heep would have sounded like had they hung out with Black Oak Arkansas? Probably not, but if you did, then check out 'Saturday Night'. Simply strange ... rating: ** stars
- Co-written by Byron and his Heep co-horts, 'Roller Coaster' was a likeable slice of slinky rock with some great Lee Kerslake drumming. The lyrics may have been a little too autobiographical for Byron's own good and the police siren sound effects were hysterically inept, but I'll readily admit to liking this one a great deal. Shame the song faded out so early. rating: **** stars
- Normally '50s-styled songs are a major turnoff for me, but 'Stop (Think What You're Doing)' was actually a nice change of pace and served to showcase what a good voice Byron had. Nice hook ... rating: *** stars
- Hum, 'Hit Me with a White One' (the reference was to a mixed drink) ended the album with one of the collection's worst songs. An instantly forgettable rocker; Byron sounded strained and unfocused on this performance; literally shrieking the words. Trying to think of something nice to say about this one ... well Box turned in another nice guitar solo. rating: ** stars

As much as I'd love to tell you this was a killer album and a must own for Heep fans, it wasn't. Pleasant and probably better than lots of solo efforts, but simply to bland to make it a must own for anyone other than Heep fanatics.

"Take No Prisoners" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Man Full of Yesterdays (David Byron - Mick Box - Lou Stonebridge) - 5:28
2.) Sweet Rock n' Roll (Lou Stonebridge - McGuinness) - 2:53
3.) Steamin' Ahead (David Byron - Mick Box - Denny Bull - Pete Thompson - Lou Stonebridge) -
4.) Silver White Man (David Byron) - 3:30
5.) Love Song (David Byron - Mick Box - Lee Kerslake - Lou Stonebridge) - 2:38

(side 2)
1.) Midnight Flyer (Lou Stonebridge - McGuinness) - 3:47
2.) Saturday Night (Lou Stonebridge) - 2:13
3.) Roller Coaster (David Byron - Mick Box - Denny Bull - Lee Kerslake - Lou Stonebridge) - 4:00
4.) Stop (Think What You're Doing) (Lou Stonebridge - McGuinness) - 4:14
5.) Hit Me with a White One (David Byron - Mick Box - Lou Stonebridge) - 3:52
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