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Uriah Heep - Classic Heep - Live from the Byron era CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

4.23 | 34 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Tears in my eyes

The marketing of this DVD made the audacious claim that it was the "Holy grail" for fans of Uriah Heep, and I have to admit that the claim is entirely valid.

For the first time on DVD, here we have extended footage of Uriah Heep performing live in the 1970's. The film is primarily taken from three gigs in Japan, the UK, and the United States. The first two feature the classic line up of Box, Byron, Hensley, Kerslake and Thain. The US gig has John Wetton replacing the late Gary Thain on bass.

The creators of this DVD were faced with something of a dilemma when putting it together. The footage they unearthed is nothing short of essential for every fan of the band but the sound quality of some of the recordings, especially those from Japan, was effectively unusable. It appears the sound recordings made in Japan used a single microphone located to the side of the stage. This may have just about passed for the low quality TV requirements of the time, but would have been totally inadequate for a presentation such as this. The decision was therefore made to use superior recordings taken from the same tour. If the recording used to overdub the Japanese performances are not those of the "Live 1973" album, they are very similar.

The synchronisation has clearly been done with an excellent level of attention to detail, such that the main indications that the sound is indeed dubbed come from things such as Byron's microphone technique which varied in proportion to the amount of Mateus Rosť he had consumed.

The UK gig is the one recorded at Shepperton studios for an aborted TV special. This has been available in audio format for many years, and extracts from the film appeared on the "Easy Livin', A history of Uriah Heep" VHS video release.

The tracks which appear naturally reflect the set lists of the band at the time, which in turn tend to cover their best known songs. There are notable omissions such as "Gypsy" and "Circle of hands", presumably due to the lack of availability of film of these (it appears the film ran out midway through some of the songs!). The recordings are all live performances, plus brief backstage interviews and chat, there are no videos as such.

The two DVD version was only available via mail order. It features a well produced mini book in a hardback cover, which details both the history of the band warts and all, and some of the background to the creation of this collection. The second DVD contains archive film deemed to be of inadequate quality to release "commercially". Here, the original sound has sometimes been allowed to remain. Also included are a couple of band interviews, and their legendary appearance on Top of the Pops when "The Wizard" almost broke into the top 40 singles chart. The disc is rounded off by 5 tracks by David Byron's post Uriah Heep band Rough Diamond. The Rough Diamond album was a mixed bag in terms of quality, but it is wonderful to see Byron working in that environment, and clearly enjoying himself.

The tragic loss of David Byron and Gary Thain means that the classic line up of the band can never reform. Lifelong fans of the band therefore assumed that we would have to rely on our personal recollections of their performances (plus of course the wonderful recreations of the current line up). This gives this DVD a far greater poignancy than archive footage of other bands who have managed to survive intact. For those of us who grew up with the band and who were devastated by the death of two of our heroes, this is a truly magnificent consolation.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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