David Byron’s position with Uriah Heep was tenuous at best during 1975, due to rampant alcoholism, suffice to say ‘Take No Prisoners’ musically is identical to Heep, with a few twists thrown in.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: David Byron
ALBUM: Take No Prisoners
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: David Byron – vocals * Mick Box – guitar * Denny Ball – bass * Pete Thompson – drums * Lee Kerslake – drums * Lou Stonebridge – keyboards * Ken Hensley – guitar * John Wetton – keyboards
TRACK LISTING: 01 Man Full Of Yesterdays * 02 Sweet Rock N’ Roll * 03 Steamin’ Ahead * 04 Silver White Man * 05 Love Song * 06 Midnight Flyer * 07 Roller Coaster * 08 Stop (Think What You Are Doing) * 09 Hit Me With A White One
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Although a debut solo vehicle for Uriah Heep vocalist Byron, this could have been another Heep album with all the band present at various points, while Mick Box was there for the album’s duration. Recorded around the same period as ‘Return To Fantasy’, it further proves how prolific the band was, finding time for this project as well as their own never-ending stream of studio recordings.
Whether or not Byron intended to break free as a solo star outside the ranks of Heep is unsure, but his position in the band was tenuous at best during 1975, due to rampant alcoholism. Suffice to say ‘Take No Prisoners’ musically is identical to Heep, with a few twists thrown in, and to be fair much of the content here exceeds Heep’s own ‘Wonderworld’, Return To Fantasy’ and ‘High And Mighty’. More importantly it highlights the often forgotten legend Byron, the ill-fated frontman at his peak, with sadly nowhere to go but down.
‘Man Full Of Yesterdays’ was allegedly written about ex Heep bassist Gary Thain and could easily have been an outtake from any Heep album to that point. Lou Stonebridge had Hensley’s organ sound copied to perfection, resulting in a quality track that perhaps Heep should have saved for themselves. ‘Sweet Rock ‘n’ Roll’ isn’t quite the rocker the title suggests, with some gospel-like harmonies and the ever-present organ.
‘Steamin Along’ does rock up quite a storm, noticeably funky, which Heep weren’t known for exactly, but the final minute is fast-paced and energetic, a tidy little gem. Elsewhere ‘Silver White Man’ is a standard Heep rocker and ‘Love Song’ as you would expect is a ballad where Byron shows off his softer vocal side.
Box stands out on ‘Midnight Flyer’ with his always potent guitar solos, followed by the 50’s rock and roll based ‘Saturday Night’, which perhaps took all of an hour to conjure up! ‘Hit Me With A White One’ is strangely titled but excellent thanks to the bravado of Byron and the ubiquitous riffs from Box, Byron still the greatest voice that Heep ever had.
An album that although dated, improves with each listen, although it goes without saying it will be of interest to Heep fans more than anyone else, fans of mid 70’s hard rock would have the time of their life with this. Byron was dismissed from Heep in 1976 due to his alcoholism.
He recorded several more albums over the following years, including 1981’s ‘On The Rocks’, which featured Robin George and apparently is more AOR orientated which makes it worth seeking out. David Byron died of a heart attack in 1985, a sad end to one of hard rock’s pioneering vocalists who always seems to be overlooked in the scheme of things. This review is a tribute then to an all-time great found here at his undoubted best.
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