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Innocent Victim

Reissue Liner Notes

1991 Liner Notes | 1997 Liner Notes

When original Uriah Heep singer David Byron was sacked in July 1976, many thought the band would never recover - but they reckoned without his replacement, John Lawton.

He was recruited from a German-based band called Lucifer's Friend and his grounding in that country could only have helped this record become the success it ultimately was - it sold over a million copies, making it their best seller ever there. Although his image contrasted with Byron's cartwheeling, scarf-waving antics - Lawton's hairline was fast receding and he appeared onstage wearing mascara and peacock feather earrings! - Lawton sang superbly and communicated well with audiences who might otherwise have been put off by his appearance.

He had made his debut with the band on 1977's Firefly, but it was on Innocent Victim - his second and Heep's 11th studio outing, released later this same year - that he really came into his own.

Thanks to fine performances from the rhythm section of Lee Kerslake (drums) and ex-Bowie/Mick Ronson/Spiders From Mars man Trevor Bolder (bass), plus a noticeable more aggressive production (by Hensley and Heep's label boss Gerry Bron), the record exhibited heavier tendencies than many of its predecessors - especially on the storming Free 'n' Easy. Lawton's sole writing credit (shared with guitarist Mick Box) which featured some blistering guitar interplay between Box and keyboardist Ken Hensley, who stepped away from his ivories to play slide guitar and help turn the track into a Heep classic that is still in the live set to this day.

The record also featured softer moments, though, like the single Free Me, the funkier numbers like Keep On Ridin' and Flyin' High, or the haunting Illusion with its perfectly paced guitar solo. The record was also notable for the rock/reggae crossover of The Dance and the closing cut Choices - an epic, slow-burning mood piece. Both numbers were written for Heep by American Jack Williams, brought into the fold by his friend Hensley.

This line-up released a third album, Fallen Angel, in 1978, but Innocent Victim remains the best of the three - not to mention one of the finest of Uriah Heep's 20-year-plus career.

Neil Jeffries, Kerrang!

Innocent Victim was Uriah Heep's eleventh studio album excluding compilations. Released late in 1977 it was the second of three studio albums to feature vocalist John Lawton. As a follow up to Firefly which even with the personnel changes had encased many of the traditional Heep musical values, Innocent Victim was a drastic departure to say the least. This new album encompassed a more sophisticated sound but was relatively lightweight in comparison to its predecessor, and along with High And Mighty and Conquest has been viewed retrospectively by many fans as the most untypical of Heep albums. Again the album failed to chart in the UK, probably indicative of the time and the emergence of punk as the popular music of the day rather than the musical content itself.

The album was very successful in Europe and Australasia, spawning the hit single Free Me which topped the charts in Germany, Australia and New Zealand of all places.

The success in Germany coincided with the re-release of Lady In Black, which won the band the coveted Golden Lion award. This no doubt had a lot to do with the amazing success Innocent Victim achieved in Germany. A classic case of how important the correct timing is in the Rock and Roll business.

Free Me is a very likeable tune, and it is easy to see how it became so popular with the masses. The band discovered a whole new world of fans with the success of the single. It was this fact that also alienated many of the longstanding die-hard fans. The album and successful single had become what is termed in the business "A Monster!"

Although the album was a relatively laid-back affair for Heep, it does feature a rocker or two - Free 'N' Easy probably making up for the lack of rockers all in one!

With two albums being recorded and released in a little over a year, there was not an abundance of spare material from the Innocent Victim sessions. However, we have included a few gems as bonus tracks. Most fans would know the track Masquerade as the B-side to the Free Me single; however it was in fact part two of the album track Illusion. Illusion on the album fades out at what would have been the start of Masquerade. Here we have included the original album in its original order (re-mastered of course). We have left this untouched for the purists! We have, however, included a complete unedited version of the Illusion-Masquerade epic. In my humble opinion this should have been on the original album with one of the other tracks omitted; of course with the CD medium, we thankfully are not under the time constraints imposed by vinyl.

We have also included one of the few out-takes from the Innocent Victim sessions, called The River, which also could have been an excellent contender for the original album. This track was unreleased until the 4 CD box set A Time Of Revelation.

The album also featured a totally different cover from the original US release. We have included it (the US cover) here on the back page of the booklet, so all you have to do is place the booklet back to front in the jewel case, and voila ... you have an American version!

© 1997 Robert M. Corich

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