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Uriah Heep - Return to Fantasy CD (album) cover

RETURN TO FANTASY

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

3.14 | 317 ratings

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prog_traveller!!
4 stars 1975 is the year of changes for Uriah Heep, Gary Thain is dismissed from the band for his heroin addiction problems and John Wetton takes his place, very skilled both as a bassist and as a singer. John Wetton is now a well- known musician, already with Mogul Thrash, with Family and singer and bassist of King Crimson to whom he collaborated to give life to progressive rock masterpieces such as Lark's Tongue In Aspic, Starless And Bible Black and the spectacular Red, where he enchanted everyone with his voice on a masterpiece like Starless. But he also boasted collaborations with the solo works of Bryan Ferry and Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music. Wetton's contribution to Return To Fantasy is only executive, as all the songs were ready and played in demo versions by Gary Thain. Return To Fantasy is a beautiful album, where the classic Uriah Heep sound is joined by strong progressive and bluesy influences that coexist perfectly. The cover design by Dave Field is very beautiful and evocative, especially in the vinyl version, a woman's body, a dancer who seems to fly and wrap a very bright sun on fire. As for John Wetton, Box is enthusiastic about it because he sees in his figure an artist full of ideas and with a stable mind, capable of bringing everyone back to the right life. In short, the works for the new album materialize: Return To Fantasy, as the title suggests, is considered a return to the fantastic themes and alchemical sounds a little latent in the two previous albums.

Return To Fantasy strikes for its greatness, for a dense sound and a cosmic atmosphere that bring to mind the dancer on the cover, pushed by a lost planet in the universe. The rhythm of the piece resembles a dance in the sky, where the instruments blend together, increasing the psychedelic attitude. The keyboards lull us into a dark dimension, taking us by the hand into the inner world of every man. It is the turn for Shady Lady, an account of a good night in the company of a fatal woman. Rock n 'roll direct and with feline features, which sees dueling guitar and bass brilliantly. The prog streak re-emerges with Devil's Daughter, a delirious song in which the protagonist is attracted by the charm of the evil one, but at the same time he is afraid of it. He invokes the devil but does not want to be subdued by his daughter. The keyboards simulate a sacred ceremony, the choirs in the refrain are liturgical songs. Wetton's bass refines some very special liquid verses. But the experimental nature of the band comes in the middle stage, Hensley launches into a synth solo and Kerslake pounds like hell. Beautiful Dream is one of the hidden masterpieces of the album, and of the whole Uriah Heep production. It opens with alienating sound effects, immediately giving a progressive connotation. Pure magnificence and a dreamlike atmosphere embroidered on Byron's infernal highs. Prima Donna is a simple rock n 'roll where saxes are present. A fast, carefree song, an on the road track that proceeds fun, from a saloon, to be listened to perhaps in the company of beer and cigars. The country-blues of Your Turn To Remember is attractive and relaxed. The vocal lines are clean, serene, supported by soulful choruses that soften the whole. A good ballad that highlights the more refined side of the English band. Showdown as the single "Prima Donna", goes down direct. An essential text and a simple rhythm section. Not a memorable piece, indeed, but still pleasant to listen to. The solemn Why Did You Go is enchanting and exudes bitterness in its essentiality. The rhythm stretches out as calm as the sunrise, and it is no coincidence that the protagonist of the lyrics wakes up after a long sleep and realizes that he is alone. The vocal is surrounded by soft choruses, bells and a mystical carpet of synthesizers. A spectacular ballad, which touches the heart, with an irresistible melody. The epic A Year Or A Day is the very embodiment of the genius of Uriah Heep. In just a few minutes, all the traits that make the music of these hard rock giants magical are concentrated here. Prog and epicness for a life story of sublime beauty. The tempo changes are sudden, the melodic lines are multiple, for an unpredictable piece that is nothing more than a hymn to life and to the world, hope for a better future, for a civil society. Immense, exciting, A Year Or A Day represents the whole musical imagination of the band.

Various tracks have been added to the 2004 CD reissue, such as Shout It Out, which appeared only on the B-side of the single Prima Donna, an excellent hard rock track that would not have disfigured the LP at all. There is also The Time Will Come, this time as the B-side of the Return To Fantasy single, still an enthralling hard rock, wasted for being just a B-side. Then there are demo versions of songs like Prima Donna, Why Did You Go, Showdown and Beautiful Dream, the peculiarity is that they are the original versions with Gary Thain on bass. There is also an extended version of Return To Fantasy, two minutes longer than the version that later appeared on the LP. In the same year, New Zealand bassist Gary Thain died at just 27 from a heroin overdose and John Wetton will have the opportunity to demonstrate his potential with High And Mighty, which will be released the following year.

prog_traveller!! | 4/5 |

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