Uriah Heep


Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep - Uriah Heep ©1970 Polygram
1. Gypsy
2. Walking In Your Shadow
3. Come Away Melinda
4. Bird Of Prey
5. Dreammare
6. Real Turned On
7. I'll Keep Trying
8. Wake Up (Set Your Sights)

I came to be a fan of Heavy Metal because of the song, "Smoke on the Water" from Deep Purple back in 1972. I suppose that sort of dates me, doesn't it? I bought a number of Deep Purple LPs and was enthralled by the used of the Hammond Organ in their music. To this date, I still can't safely drive a car if "Burn" or "Child In Time" are playing on the radio. "Smoke on the Water" made me want to find other bands in the same vein. I "discovered" Uriah Heep in the late 70's and early 80's. I've been a Heepster ever since, owning almost every one of the twenty or so albums they released.

Uriah Heep's music can be divided into two groups. There are the first four or five albums (up to Magician's Birthday) and there is everything else. At least that's how most fans group the albums. The first five albums had a profound effect on my tastes in music. In this review and others, I will try to explain why.

In this first studio album, there are some defining moments. The first track, "Gypsy", became an almost instant yardstick by which every other Uriah Heep song would be measured. Driven by the power of Ken Hensley's organ playing and his searing solos, the track brands itself into you memory. It was the song that hooked me and made me a fan. I wore out no fewer than four copies of the original vinyl. Uriah Heep's music was trying to be bigger than the sum of its parts. Among the things they did well was playing big music. This first album was almost something of a demonstration of what they could do with the varied playing styles and great differences in expression. The music ranges from thundering power to soft emotional ballad. David Byron's vocals carry the emotional element of the songs beautifully. Mick Box's guitar seared and soared, teased and thrilled. Any fan of Deep Purple in their glory days or Mountain, Gentle Giant or any number of other old style metal bands will appreciate the contribution this album made to heavy atmospheric, larger than life metal.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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Salisbury

Uriah Heep - Salisbury ©1971 Polygram
1. High Priestess
2. The Park
3. Time To Live
4. Lady In Black
5. Simon The Bullet Freak
6. Salisbury

I think this album, perhaps more than any other I have listened to in over twenty five years of listening to metal, can be credited for my love for progressive metal. Byron, Hensley, Box and company produced a sound that stunned me as a young man and still moves me today. "Lady In Black" is still on my personal list of top ten favorite songs and probably will be for a very long time. But it was the sixteen minute "Salisbury" that was the jaw dropping experience for me. Woodwinds ands brass in heavy metal? The sounds were so captivating for me that it redefined my taste in music. A lot of the other stuff I had listened to began to sound one dimensional. This was my first experience with lengthy, orchestrated heavy metal and it remains my preference with bands today. With the purchase of Salisbury I began to scan the times of the tracks on other LPs that I considered buying. If a group had a song over six or seven minutes, I would fork over the cash for their album. It's only fitting that Rage and Symphony X are my current favorites when you consider the roots of my own love of metal. There was a complexity in this music that was missing from Black Sabbath and the others I was devouring at the time. This was one of those albums that makes you sit up and take notice. Salisbury rocked. The opening cut, "High Priestess", is one of those songs that gets in your head and stays for a long time. "Lady In Black" with its chant-like build to crescendo in one of those songs that catches you on the first listen and holds you through subsequent listens as you appreciate how layered the music is. As I said above, this album was the first I had heard that incorporated a classical element into non-classical music. While Uriah Heep may not have been the first group to experiment with this type of composition, they were the first I had experienced, and a guy never forgets his first, right?

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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Look At Yourself

Uriah Heep - Look At Yourself ©1971 Polygram
1. Look At Yourself
2. I Wanna Be Free
3. July Morning
4. Tear In My Eyes
5. Shadows Of Grief
6. What Should Be Done
7. Love Machine

Uriah Heep's third release saw the band come into their own. Solidly produced and very well balanced, this album captured the power and proficiency of the group's musicianship. David Byron's vocals are incredible. He captures the emotion and intensity of the music wonderfully, using his voice as another instrument in the band. This album brought Uriah Heep's musicianship to the fore. WASP's front man, Blackie Lawless, said of Uriah Heep, "Ken Hensley wrote the rule book for heavy metal keyboards as far as I'm concerned." Those keys are very prominent on "July Morning" and "Shadows of Grief". This album along with Demons and Wizards redefined the parameters of Heavy Metal and showed that it could be a much more involved and complex genre. The title track, "Look At Yourself", still ranks as a favorite with fans with its thundering organ and rich vocal harmonies. Any fan of Deep Purple's Child In Time will devour this album and come away very satisfied.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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Demons And Wizards

Uriah Heep - Demons And Wizards ©1972 Polygram
1. The Wizard
2. Traveler In Time
3. Easy Livin'
4. Poet's Justice
5. Circle Of Hands
6. Rainbow Demon
7. All My Life
8. Paradise / The Spell

Arguably the first "Tolkien-metal" album, Demons and Wizards established a union between fantasy fiction and heavy metal that is still prevalent today. This album also brought Uriah Heep out of obscurity and into the limelight with the release of the single, "Easy Livin':, which still sees air time on classic rock radio stations. Former Royal Hunt vocalist, D. C. Cooper recently covered the song on his new solo CD. Demons and Wizards showed a strong penchant for ballads with "Easy Livin'" being one of the heaviest tracks on the album. The epic "Paradise / The Spell" clocking in at over twelve minutes continues Heep's love for long compositions which allow the musicianship to flex and improvise a bit. The harmonies and flow of the music is all here. The songs have a sense of community to them, making this the tightest Heep album of the first four and a fan favorite. With this disc and Magician's Birthday, Uriah Heep were at the top of the heap musically.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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The Magician's Birthday

Uriah Heep - The Magician's Birthday ©1972 Polygram
1. Sunrise
2. Spider Woman
3. Blind Eye
4. Echoes In The Dark
5. Rain
6. Sweet Lorraine
7. Tales
8. The Magician's Birthday

Uriah Heep's fifth commercial release continued the thread of fantasy based music begun in Demons And Wizards. Boasting several tracks that have made it onto numerous "best of" discs released in the past five to ten years, this album marked an end of an era for Uriah Heep. There followed several years of personnel changes and lackluster albums. Magician's Birthday was the last album to have a strong feel of togetherness that Uriah Heep would release for several years. The release of Magician's Birthday, roughly half a year after Demons And Wizards, showed the cohesiveness of the band. They functioned as a unit to create some really strong music. The title track, at over ten minutes long, gave Mick Box room to rip off a great guitar solo that stands as a favorite for Heep fans everywhere. Uriah Heep had pushed the envelope of metal composition and really stretched themselves as a band to release this album. The fit and feel of the songs reflects the unity with which the album was written and produced. This album, along with the four that preceded it, helped to ensconce Uriah Heep as one of the most influential artists in heavy metal.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 06/2000

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A Time Of Revelation

Uriah Heep - A Time Of Revelation ©1996 Essential
CD one:
1. In Love
2. What About The Music
3. Born In A Trunk
4. Gypsy
5. Coma Away Melinda
6. Dreammare
7. Wake Up (set Your Sights)
8. Here I Am
9. Time To Live
10. Lady In Black
11. July Morning
12. Look At Yourself
13. Paradise / The Spell
CD two:
1. The Wizard
2. Traveler In Time
3. Easy Livin'
4. Rainbow Demon
5. Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf
6. Sunrise
7. Rain
8. The Magician's Birthday
9. Circle Of Hands
10. Rock 'N' Roll Medley
11. Stealin'
12. Sweet Freedom
13. Love Hate & Fear
14. Stone's Throw
15. Something Or Nothing
16. The Easy Road
CD three:
1. Wonderworld
2. Prima Donna
3. Why Did You Go
4. Showdown
5. Return To Fantasy
6. Weep In Silence
7. Midnight
8. The Hanging Tree
9. Sympathy
10. A Far Better Way
11. Free Me
12. The River
13. Free 'N' Easy
14. Come Back To Me
15. A Right To Live
16. Who Needs Me
CD four:
1. Let It Ride
2. Feelings
3. Your Love
4. It Ain't Easy
5. Valley Of Kings
6. Think It Over
7. The Other Side Of Midnight
8. Weekend Warriors
9. Split Image
10. Rockarama
11. Night Of The Wolf
12. Poor Little Rich Girl
13. Too Scared To Run
14. Blood Red Roses
15. Blood On Stone
16. Holy Roller
17. She Still Calls His Name
18. Time Of Revelation

As you can tell by reading my other reviews listed here in Uriah Heep's discography, I am a very big fan of the band. I have seen countless "best of" discs and compilations, but this one caught my eye because it contains a wealth of unreleased material that I will detail below. It also includes some of the most comprehensive liner notes you'll ever find detailing the history of a band. Since Uriah Heep's history spans three and a half decades, that's a great deal of information. There are photos from as early as 1965 following the various incarnations of Uriah Heep from the very earliest times to the present. As compilations go, I don't know when I have seen a better one.

First, the new material. The four discs contain eighteen tracks that either have not been released before (NR), or are being released in a version other than the original (AR). These tracks are: (NR): "In Love", "What About The Music", "Who Needs Me", "Proud Words On A Duty Shelf", "Love Hate & Fear", "Let It Ride", "Valley Of Kings", "Split Image", "Night Of The Wolf", "Holy Roller", "She Still Calls His Name", (AR): "Born In A Trunk", "Prima Donna", "Showdown", "The River", "A Right To Live", "Something Or Nothing", and "Feelings"). There is also a pair of alternative mixes ("Here I Am" and "Blood Red Roses") and a couple live tracks that haven't been released before. That is quite a lot of new material, comprising over twenty-five percent of the tracks on these four CDs.

Second, the liner notes. There are sixty pages of notes bound into the disc folder. They cover the band's history, disc-by-disc, detailing the awards, band members, and the behind the scenes events that shaped, shook, tore, and unified the band. There is a lot to read in these notes, and the history of the band is laid out in such a way that there is very little left unexplained.

The tracks are arranged on these discs to progress through the band's history in a very logical way. The new material is arranged in such a way as to give the listener new material from every stage of the band's history. I prefer the earliest Uriah Heep material, but that is due to the tremendous impact it had on my musical tastes more than it is due to the changes the band underwent. The song "Gypsy" remains in my mind as one of metal's great anthems. I am sure that older fans of metal, like myself, all have songs that are like talismans to them. "Gypsy" and a goodly number of other Heep tracks have that quality about them for me. I know there are fans of Uriah Heep who prefer the discs from Abominog to Sea of Light. The music on these discs weaves its way through all the various incarnations of the band, hitting the high points of each era and providing new material from each to please fans across the spectrum. While most of the previously released material appears on one or another "best of" discs or compilations, the never before released songs and the remixes or alternative mixes make this collection very attractive to fans of the band. I don't know as I would recommend it to those who have a passing or casual interest in the group, but anyone who has followed Uriah Heep for years will want to find it and obtain a copy.

Review by Matthew Braymiller

Review date: 10/2001

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