One of Britain’s most enduring rock bands, the Dickensianly titled Uriah Heep formed in the late 60s (with their roots in the band Spice), and were one the most progressive rock bands at the time.
With the ever present guitarist Mick Box at the helm, the band have had too many line-ups to mention and are still going very strong.
With a new re-exploration of their catalogue, BMG have already reissued their 1970 debut Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble, and the expanded format featured many previously unreleased tracks. This one, with extensive sleevenotes, is fulfilling to say the least.
Originally bolstered by keyboard player and songwriter Ken Hensley and the operatic vocals of David Byron, Uriah Heep produced some classics during the 70s, including ‘Gypsy’, ‘Look At Yourself’,
‘Return To Fantasy’ and the surprise hit single ‘Easy Livin’’. A number of change, a lot of coming and going, has seen some wonderful musicians pass through the ranks, most notably bassist Trevor
Boulder (RIP) but also John Lawton, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake and Chris Slade (to name a very few), the current band seeing Bernie Shaw, Phil Lanzon, Russell Gilbrook and Davey Rimmer alongside Box, This 1971 release features vocalist David Byron, guitarist Mick Box, keyboards/guitarist/vocalist Ken
Hensley, bassist Paul Newton and drummer Keith Baker.
Opening with ‘Bird Of Prey’, this is Uriah Heep at their most blistering, in-your- face and operatic. It’s Mick Box’s guitar and Byron’s powerful and full ranging vocals that make this track and is probably the most epic 4 minute slice of organ grinding guitar searing rock you’ll ever hear. Seriously.
‘The Park’ is a more acoustic number, but a great melody. Then the solid guitar work of ‘Time To Live’, riffs aplenty and powerful vocals too. Lady In Black’ (sung by Hensley) is another great Heep classic, this is one of those Uriah Heep tracks you’ll be singing to yourself for ages after.
Mixing guitar and organ, the 16 minute title track is a rock opera in its own right, some neat bass / organ interplay a slightly jazzy progressive soundtrack feel in some segments, especially with some bursts of brass.
The second disc, with some previously unreleased versions, makes for a reimagined album, def one for the collectors. The misnomer here is that not all the extra tracks from previous reissues are included, making it less than definitive.
That said, one of the most essential records of the genre. 8.8/10