Ken Hensley: Love And Other Mysteries

Lethargic love songs from the ex-Uriah Heep member.

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Multi-instrumentalist Ken Hensley is best known as a key member of Uriah Heep in the 70s, and before that The Gods (which also featured one Greg Lake). Now he sees himself primarily as a songwriter. 2007’s Blood On The Highway was a rock opera portraying the rise, fall and rise again of a rock star. Love And Other Mysteries is perhaps equally personal, though as a series of candid, straight-ahead love songs it’s probably got more crossover appeal.

There are no flailing stabs at modernity here; the playing and arrangements are stoically old-school. It may plod at times, but there’s no doubting its sincerity. Languidly paced ballads dominate, and for every successful Carpenters-style one there’s a worryingly Manilow-esque moment.

Just as you’re thinking Engelbert Humperdinck could easily cover one of these, a flash of impressive guitar livens matters up. Also adding variety are the copious guest vocalists here, including Glenn Hughes, Santra Salkova and Sarah Rope.

Eyes (The Girl In The Purple Dress) is a shot at outdoing The Lady In Red or Wonderful Tonight which doesn’t quite come off. The romance here is commendable; the repetition not so much.

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.