Ken Hensley

Elements: The Anthology

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This solid compilation explores the solo career of Ken Hensley, a lesser-known figure in classic rock who wrote many an FM rock favorite during his tenure as a member of Uriah Heep. Although Hensley's solo work often utilizes an atmospheric production style similar to that of Uriah Heep, it usually tones down the heavy metal bombast to show off his skills as a songwriter. This is a plus, because Hensley has a solid knack for pairing strong, memorable melodies with intriguing lyrics: "Through the Eyes of a Child" is a heartbreaking exploration of the loss of innocence that comes with adulthood, combining a heartfelt vocal with a rich string arrangement, while "From Time to Time" is a thoughtful tale of romance that blends a haunting acoustic melody with some subtle synthesizer shadings. However, hard rock fans won't be disappointed with this collection, because other tracks find Hensley returning to the hard-rocking style of his day-job group: "Brown Eyed Boy" is a fun rocker with a pounding, drum-driven tempo, and "Proud Words on a Dusty Shelf" is a rousing track driven by a twisting Uriah Heep-style guitar riff. Despite this array of highlights, the song selection on Anthology is not all it could be: It skips some of Hensley's best solo tracks (a notable omission is the funky "In the Morning" from Eager to Please, one of his few solo singles) in favor of lesser moments like the faceless boogie rock of "New Routine." Despite these occasional lapses, Anthology remains a fine introduction to the considerable songwriting chops of Ken Hensley, and is a convenient way for Uriah Heep fanatics to collect a nice cross section of his often hard to find solo work.

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