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Uriah Heep - The Magician's Birthday CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

3.84 | 539 ratings

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3 stars Never mind the wizards - here's some great rock!!!

Sounds a lot like early Rainbow - without Blackmore's legendary fretwork, but with the bonus of the "Heep choir".

Uriah Heep follow "Demons and Wizards" with a more concerted attempt to break through into prog territory by continuing with the Roger Dean artwork and Wizards theme, making the songs longer and opening with a plodding chunker of a song which does not have the huge stadium appeal or technical virtuosity of early Queen, but has a quirky charm of its own.

Spider Woman is a wierd kind of love song with bottleneck guitar and rock 'n' roll riffs that put me slighty in mind of Juicy Lucy. I find it fortunate that this is quite short, however...

Again, simple chord structures with the odd wierd synth noise thrown in, combined with those walkie basslines, breakbeats and the Heep choir (less in evidence here, sadly) comprise the majority of this album.

There is another pop song here in Sweet Lorraine. Like Easy Living, it's hard, driving and wonderful - but a pop song.

If orchestration and arrangement is your thing, with sumptuous vocal choirs and guitar pyrotechnics, you'd be better off with the first two Queen albums, Deep Purple or Rainbow. However, the melody writing is strong here, and this album is definitely worth a listen if you appreciate great classic rock music.

"Tales" is somewhat repetitive and dirge-like, but Byron's voice is pleasing enough to carry it, and the drums and bass are mildly engaging.

"The Magician's Birthday" is the track I was really looking forward to, clocking in at over 10 minutes - surely some prog here?

Sorry, but no. A repeating Zep-type riff leads to simple chord progressions (but the bells from "Easy Living" are back!) and a cheesy chorus, which, frankly, is dire. The quirky "Happy Birthday" section with Beatles-esque piano and Kazoo, reminiscent of Corporal Clegg is interesting. However, despite the plectrum drawn across the inside of the piano, we're soon back to the original dirge and horrible chorus. There are Pepper- esque overlays - a simple loop which is re-introduced a few times over the next few minutes, and very atmospheric on the first couple of hearings, but Box subjects us to 3 minutes or so of bluff presented as a Nigel Tuffnell style guitar solo with some partially orchestrated drums and spoils any prog pretensions this track might otherwise have had. This solo practically drawls "My solos are my trademark..." and "This goes to 11".

Move along please! No prog to look at here!

One for you classic rockers though! ENJOY!!!

Certif1ed | 3/5 |


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