When I saw this album I was immediately intrigued, as Uriah Heep singer Bernie Shaw hasn’t released much material at all outside the bands he has been involved with at the time, and I have always loved his voice. It is strange to think that he has been by the side of Mick Box since 1986, more than 30 years, and the longest any other singer lasted was just 7 (Byron)! This album and has been recorded with his bandmate from the music scene in Victoria, Canada, guitarist and songwriter Dale Collins. The duo had previously released an EP called ‘Picking Locks’ in Canada more than 20 years ago, and the album sees them re-record those three songs, along with the other songs from their collaboration. Due to Heep’s workload (Shaw commented he still spends more than 200 days a year working with Heep), it took some six years to complete.
Shaw of course provides all the vocals, while Collins provides guitar, bass and keyboards and they are joined by drummer Don Restall plus a few guests on odd tracks, but it is primarily the trio. Shaw co-wrote opening number with Collins, but the rest of the material is all by Collins. Although he doesn’t appear to be a well-known name, I discovered an interview from the time of the EP and even back then he calculated he had played more than 2500 gigs, so he knows his way around. He and Bernie originally met because Bernie was having a break back in the same area of Canada before going into the studio to record what would later be released as ‘Sonic Origami’, and was looking for a guitarist to play with. Dale managed to get an invite to meet him – the rest is history!
This is exactly what one would expect from a Bernie Shaw album, well-crafted gorgeous melodic classic rock. There is of course a power balled in ‘Sad Song” but there are plenty of belters as well. This is an incredibly accessible album and I found myself singing along with songs the very first time I played it. Collins is a very strong songwriter, and a good guitarist without being over flashy. This album is all about songs, hooks and vocals, and that order changes depending on what is playing. It screams “class” from start to finish and is bound to get a lot of attention just because of the Uriah Heep connection but it should be getting it in its own right as this is a delight from beginning to end. The arrangements are delicate, moving to acoustic and steel when the time is right, changing pace and dynamics so the album is incredibly easy to listen to, with those wonderful warm vocals of Bernie front and centre. He has lost none of his power, range and emotion, and they are all here on ample display. This is for fans of all forms of classic melodic rock, a real goody.