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February, 1977

Firefly cover
Full scan 710 x 347 83K
  • Mick Box (G)
  • John Lawton (LV)
  • Ken Hensley (K G)
  • Trevor Bolder (B)
  • Lee Kerslake (D)

Overview - Overall, this is my favorite Heep album. Great, well-constructed songs without a single weak spot, and the best song-to-song flow of any Heep album. While there are few out 'n' out rockers, there's a feel to this album that hadn't been on any Heep album since The Magician's Birthday. The choice of John to replace David was brilliant. Although a completely different style, he was probably the most talented vocalist Heep has ever had (and that's coming from someone who thinks David was one of the best vocalists in rock history!). Maybe he didn't have David's charisma, but his voice fit the Heep of the late 70's perfectly. Grade: A+
This album also introduced Trevor to the Heep fold, who has now been Heep's bassist for 18 years!
note: - American order: (inferior to the European order)

  1. Been Away Too Long
  2. Sympathy
  3. Who Needs Me
  4. Wise Man
  5. The Hanging Tree
  6. Rollin' On
  7. Do You Know
  8. Firefly

1. The Hanging Tree - A great opener, featuring the incredible vocal talents of Mr. Lawton. Ken's keyboards compliment the song nicely, creating an appropriately dark mood. Nice tempo changes and a gorgeous ending. Grade: A+

2. Been Away Too Long - Another melancholy piece featuring excellent dynamics and mood changes, accentuated by Lee's drum work. Mick is given the chance to really shine on his solo while John slides around the melody. Grade: A+

3. Who Needs Me - The first rocker, we get our first real Heep harmonies. This piece really boogies, driven by Trevor (whose bass is everywhere!) and Lee (who wrote the song, the only non-Hensley piece on the original album!). Mick flies over the frets on his solo (decently long once again) while John shows that he can belt 'em out nearly as well as David. Grade: A

4. Wise Man - Another great Heep ballad, this showcases John's soulful voice. In the hands of a lesser vocalist this would've fallen flat. A strong gospel feel not unlike the title track off Sweet Freedom, this may be John's finest performance on a Heep record. Grade: A+
note: There are three released versions. The bonus track version comes from a live performance on Top Of The Pops. John is even better on this performance, although he doesn't hit all the high notes. The bgv's are especially good as well. There is also a single edit on The Best Of...Part 2. To my ears, the only editing done is to cut the ending short. Except for that, excellent edit.

5. Do You Know - This rocker kicks off side 2 with a bang. Although a bit dated today, the energy is undeniable. Lee and Trevor are very tight and groovin', and Mick and John are in top form as well. Grade: A
note: The original demo is included as a bonus track. Not much different from the released version, the sound quality is quite dull on this.

6. Rollin' On - A slow blues grinder. The verses and Mick's solo are filled with longing, although the chorus doesn't carry that intensity through. The choir backing the second half of Mick's solo is an especially nice touch. Grade: A

7. Sympathy - Yet another excellent melancholy piece. Mick and Ken duet on guitar on the fills while Mick plays with John on the verses. The rhythm guitar in this number is Sympathy coververy David Gilmour-ish, ala Echoes but works to great effect. Once again, Trevor and Lee create a very tight groove. John, while not a silver-throated screamer, does a great job belting this out. Grade: A+

8. Firefly - This song is so beautiful it sends chills up my spine every time I hear it, especially on Ken and John's duet at the beginning and the lovely ending. In between is one of their best mid-tempo rockers ever. Grade: A+

Crime of Passion - (Bonus track - 'B' side of Wise Man and Sympathy) A decent boogie number, but not of the quality of the rest of the album. Outstanding bridge and ending makes this song worthwhile but it's too short to bring the grade up. Grade: B

A Far Better Way - (Bonus track) A soft gentle beginning builds up to a great driving rocker that gets funky for the bridge. This would've been a great addition to the original album. The second half is basically an extended jam to give John a chance to show off his chops. Grade: A+
note: There are two versions of this song, the other being on
Time Of Revelation. The differences between the two are slight.

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