1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear – Uriah Heep’s Equator

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1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#39: Uriah Heep – Equator (1985)

MATT KELLY points his shit-o-meter at an album that’s bad to the bone, and ‘dem bones are wracked with early-onset osteoporosis.

 

Not just incontestably the worst album Uriah Heep ever made, Equator is one of the worst rock albums of 1985, even in a year that featured such competition as Cut The Crap, Night Rocker and that godawful Beach Boys self-titled.

Equator may even be one of the worst rock albums of the decade.
You’ll know the problem immediately – histrionic, overwrought, grossly commercial production that tries to make everything sound as big and epic as possible with no subtlety or nuance in sight.

 

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Equator is a grotesque parody of shallow ’80s excess and a humiliating portrayal of a ’70s act on a doomed quest to become the next Def Leppard. The previous album Head First was also commercial and silly, but at least that had some good melodies, a bit of rock and a crisp sound. By contrast, Equator is soulless and sludgy, the kind of thing you’d expect if you asked an AI to generate a parody of AOR.

Opening track ‘Rockarama’ is so embarrassing, even without the humiliating video of Heep sitting on a couch rocking out in new wave outfits and headbands. Dated Fairlight sounds, robotic drumming, cheesy backing vocals, over-singing from Peter Goalby; this has it all yet is still far from the worst song on the album.

There’s the interminable, syrupy, goopy ballad ‘Lost One Love’ which listening to in full feels like surviving a terminal illness. Perhaps you’d prefer the upbeat ‘Party Time’, on which a group of 38-year-old men shout about being hot tonight and ready for love over a dad-rock take on Motley Crue.

Or there’s ‘Skool’s Burning’ (yes, school with a K for extra raditude points) where Uriah Heep reimagine Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s Out’ as written by Bryan Adams.

What about ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’, SIX AND A HALF FUCKING MINUTES of whinging dirgery. It’s wall-to-wall stinkers I’m afraid. The tryhard badassery of ‘Bad Blood’, the insufferably upbeat and never-ending ‘Angel’, the cookie cutter ’80s rock of ‘Heartache City’; I say yuck to it all.

Like Conquest (1980), Equator nearly ended the band. A commercial and critical disaster, its awful reception caused band members to start pointing fingers and questioning their direction and when the smoke cleared vocalist Goalby and keyboardist Sinclair were gone. The good news for Heep and their fans is that when you go down this far, the only way onwards is up.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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