KEN HENSLEY – A List of Favorite recordings

I like doing these lists, as long as there’s a different theme to it, I guess. Being a fan of Uriah Heep and Ken Hensley’s solo works, there was a time when no one thought we’d ever see or hear anything new from the guy, after his mid ‘80s ‘retirement’ . This was the guy who wrote Easy Livin, Stealin, Look At Yourself, Free Me, etc.. and then seemed to disappear. And then came the From Time To Time CD release in ’93, and talk of possibly recording again. In 1999 Ken released his first album of new material since 1981’s Free Spirit. This list is compiled from his albums since his comeback, and although I didn’t include much in the way of ballads, there’s been plenty of good ones And that could be a whole other list. Ken’s been pretty consistent for the past 16 years, and seems to have picked up creatively better than he left off in 1981. I started this list with close to 20 songs and dwindled it down to 10… and a few of those choices could change next week! This was a bit of fun, so feel free to drop me some feedback on this article and Ken Hensley’s records over the past 15+ years!

*For Ken’s solo / post-Heep discography, check out:

http://ken-hensley.com/works/albums.html

*For more on Ken, check out interviews and reviews I’ve done with him in the past….

http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/HensleyBOTH.html http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/HeepRelatedReviews.html http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/reviewssept11.html http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/Fall12Reviews.html

http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/Hensley08Interview.html http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/Hensley2014.html

*For a few interviews with Ken’s band-mates [and former] : https://outsiderrock.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/wonderworld-break-the-chains-interview/ http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/Hauksson.html

 

The Last Dance

Arguably the strongest and most epic thing Ken wrote since Heep’s glory years. It’s got a great story, that sits alongside the likes of “The Wizard” and “Wiseman”, with acoustic guitar and build up, and a dramatic instrumental section, and finale; solid playing and a cool production. There’s been a few versions issued, but I’ll take the original from the album of the same name – with Ken’s vocals. Can’t help but imagine how this song would’ve fared if it had been recorded during Heep’s glory days!

Okay [This house is down]

2007’s concept Blood On The Highway release remains my favorite album since Ken’s comeback, and I enjoy every track here. This track is THE rock hit here, and is full of energy, memorable; and I dare claim the best big rocker Ken produced since the early ‘70s. It also helps that Jorn Lande sang this, as well as a number of others here.

The Return [live 2005]

This was a ballad, a song about Ken’s beliefs on his Glimpse of Glory album in ’99. A good song originally, but I am going out of the lines and picking this 2005 live version from a long out of print DVD. Why I chose this is just for the pure ‘70s rock n roll feel of it – extended solos, jams, very energetic, without drastically altering the song, and clocking in over 11 minutes! Would be cool if someone mastered this and gave this show a CD release! Until then – look it up on youtube.

Overture: La Tristeza Secreta De Uncorazon Gitano /Prelude: A Minor Life / Out of My Control

So I strung these 3 together because that is how I hear them , like one long epic. But they all lead nicely into the next, and “Out Of My Control” is one great rocker. A stand out on this album [Running Blind, 2001], a stellar performance and vocal from Ken. This album included a number of songs that had a previous life on other projects, as well as some less than stellar production and mixes.

 

This Is Just The Beginning

From Blood On The Highway – this song, which kicks this album into gear, is a cool rock track, with plenty of sounds of the classic Heep – it’s catchy, Ken’s distinctive guitar sound, the harmonies ….Jorn Lande….

Ready To Die

From Trouble, Ken’s heaviest rock album, and closest to ‘metal’. This song was a killer opener. Great hook and intro, going off like a siren. His band [Live Fire] delivers it heavy, and it suits them well. Love the combo of the Hammond organ with Ken Ingwersen’s guitar sound. [the Live Fire guys would become Wonderworld, and now have 2 records out]. The only album to feature Roberto Tiranti on vocals. Would love to hear another album like this!

The [high] Cost of Loving

From Glimpse Of Glory, a very different track. Based mainly on keyboards, pretty atmospheric, written about someone from his past. Could’ve used another verse, but what the heck, a great vocal and production.

Set Me Free [From Yesterday]

The lead off track to 2011’s Faster album. love the initial build up of guitar parts and Eirikur Hauksson’s vocal coming in before the band kicks in. Definitely a ‘70s feel and reminiscent of early Heep here.

 

Romance

Ken’s reworking of a song from an old Russian opera. Somewhat of a ballad, but pretty dramatic, very different, and a great vocal and production. From the Elements: Anthology [2005].

Letting Go

This is one track I always enjoy, from The Last Dance. A pretty straight forward rocker, catchy, and the lyrics say a lot.

KJJ

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5 thoughts on “KEN HENSLEY – A List of Favorite recordings”

  1. To be honest I haven’t listened much to Ken’s stuff since the “From Time To Time” release. I do have all the albums but in my opinion “Proud Words” and “Eager To Please” have yet to be matched.
    And I’ve never been fond of any artists solo albums with other singers on them. Ken’s always been a great singer in his own right. He doesn’t need others for that job.

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    1. thanks Sigmund. I liked Ken’s 70s solo albums, but think he’s put out some great stuff since returning. and regardless of who’s in his band or singing, it’s his songs. some of the heavier stuff is better with other singers.

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  2. Agree on many things, but as Ken says himself, he’s got no rocknroll voice, and he has lost a bit of strength too during the years, so it seems like a good idea to me (and it has prowed to be) a good solution on the heavier stuff. As a bloodfan of early Heep the song the last dance is probably his best work since Heep. And blood on the highway is way over the best rock album he has ever done without Heep. A lot of his later stuff has a pop, ballade or grand prix approach and therefore I was delighted when blood on the highway came out I he showed us that he still has the rocknroll feeling… Set me free is probably the song that has most of the Uriah Heep feeling in it.

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  3. Hi Kev, this is my list, most of them same choices as you’ve picked:

    It’s Up To You
    Think Twice (original version)
    The Cost Of Loving
    Overture/Prelude/Out Of My Control
    Crying
    Letting Go
    The Last Dance (original version)
    The Return (live version)
    Romance (original version)
    (This Is) Just The Beginning
    We’re On Our Way
    Okay (This House Is Down)

    With Live Fire:

    Set Me Free (From Yesterday)
    The Curse
    Ready To Die
    Trouble

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