Ken Hensley

From Time to Time

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This surprisingly consistent collection of unreleased material compiles a series of demos and outtakes recorded by Ken Hensley, a singer and songwriter best known for his work with Uriah Heep, between 1971 and 1982. Odds and sods compilations are often a dicey proposition, but From Time to Time manages to beat the odds with an effective combination of polished songcraft and inspired performances: The studio outtakes all boast fully realized productions (some even including a string section) and the demos aspire to studio quality thanks to tight arrangements that often differ from the released versions ("If I Had the Time" forsakes the space rock excesses of the Uriah Heep version for a lovely, country-flavored mid-tempo pace). Fans of Uriah Heep will be pleased by the high percentage of rockers on From Time to Time: some of the hard-rocking highlights include "Inspiration," a driving tune built on a tub-thumping beat and a catchy slide-guitar hook, and "Free Spirit," an autobiographical tune that blends organ-fortified hard rock with a pounding boogie beat. From Time to Time also shows off Hensley's skill with balladry: "There Comes a Time" is a quietly moving song about facing up to one's problems and "Guilty" is a passionately sung tale of heartbreak built on a simple but effective combination of piano and lilting strings. Not all of the tracks on this album succeed ("You" has a lovely ballad melody but suffers from lyrics that are too sugary-sweet for their own good), but even these lesser moments benefit from Hensley's thorough craftsmanship. Classic rock fans will also be delighted by the variety of famous guest stars who appear on From Time to Time: the luminaries who back up Hensley include Ian Paice of Deep Purple, Paul Kossoff from Free, and several members of Bad Company. Rounding out the package is a nice set of liner notes from Ken Hensley that include track-by-track descriptions full of interesting information about where the songs were recorded and who played on them. All in all, From Time to Time is an above-average collection that will delight hardcore fans with its rarities and may even win new fans for the terminally underrated Hensley thanks to its high level of quality.

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