This is the third album by a dead or dying artist I’m reviewing this week, and the second one from Uriah Heep. Much like Ken Hensley, who also died a couple of months ago and is currently releasing a postumous album, Lee Kerslake is most famous for his days in Heep, but has also done a bunch of other things throughout the years. But unlike Hensley, who was the main songwriter in Heep back in the day, Kerlake has mostly just been that great drummer. Sure, his song credits are there, both in Heep and on the first two Ozzy Osbourne albums, but always along with other song writers, and often on the simpler songs like Spider Woman or No Bone Movies rather than the epic masterpieces. So with that said, I’m not that sure what to expect from a Lee Kerslake solo album. Perhaps that is why I’m so excited to hear it!
As the album begins, it soon strikes me that Kerslake was not just the man behind the boogie woogie songs, but also the hauntingly beautiful ballad Come Back to Me from Uriah Heeps underrated Fallen Angel album 1978. And that’s kind of the musical spaces around which Eleventeen moves within. But not entirely. The album is quite varied and has a good mix between solid melodic hard rock songs (Home is Where the Heart is) soft ballads (Where Do We Go From Here), bar room joints (the joyful Port and a Brandy), folk songs (a really moving version of Carole Kings classic You’ve Got a Friend), and instrumental (the briliant ending tune Mom). Overall, it’s a very nice and decent little album! It may not be the one people will remember Kerslake by, but it’s a very nice, warm and charming goodbye.
It’s nice to know that both Kerslake and Hensley are currently releasing two really good farewell albums, and that both of them are really good! Sure, the production is compressed, like most melodic hard rock albums of today, but the heart and soul of the songs and Kerlakes surprisingly strong voice comes across quite beautifully. And if you’re a sucker for the John Lawton Uriah Heep era, like me, this is just the right sound you wanna hear on a goodbye album. Rest in peace, Lee!
Artist: Lee Kerslake
Label: Cherry Red Records
Date of release: 26/2-21
Standout track: Mom