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Uriah Heep - Demons and Wizards CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

4.07 | 851 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Ah ...Uriah Heep: the first Progressive Rock Band I ever knew about. Or ARE they Progressive Rock? With the knowledge that this topic has been debated before- I won't go into detail. All I can say is that some of their songs are prog and some aren't. They vary. However they are definitely classic 70s rock and a great inspiration in general.

The Wizard: This is a calming acoustic ballad. The way it's formatted is generic but it's a good simple singalong rock-song. Not really prog. "..And help the people to feel free again." There is definitely an overtone of hippy-ish optimism in some of Uriah Heep's songs. And during the chorus we hear, for the first time in the album, the lovely David Byron's ability to sound like a GIRL! You can't deny the 'we've-just-been- castrated' "Ah"s that this band like to put in many of their pieces...singing together in harmony. (When I first heard 'Bird of Prey' I had a habit of referring to it as the Castration Song...probably much to my Uriah Heep-crazy boyfriend's annoyance but I couldn't care less- listen to it and you'll see what I mean!) Just one note about David Byron: to me, he is the lord and master of all things beautiful in the male singing-voice. His blue-blood accent adds clarity- as does the way he sings long resonating notes with good vibrato. From low notes to the highest falsetto- this man stretched the masculine voice to its' full extent. In all honesty- I much prefer David Byron-era UH in comparison with their later music.

Traveller in Time: Smashing beginning! I enjoy the range of techniques they use (eg: a wah-wah pedal from Mick Box's guitar.) According to the lyrics- this is a very optimistic album indeed. Creative drumming from Lee Kerslake. There's a phrase that pops up in many of this band's songs: "I'm a man..." Stating the obvious about ones' this hyper-masculinity, homoeroticism or a battle again'st an identity crisis? I'll leave you to come up with your own hypothersis on that one. I love the guitar as it plays towards the end...but Byron's whining towards the end sounds horribly like Axle from Guns n' Roses! One of his rare 'lesser' moments.

Easy Livin': I don't see what's so fantastic about this 'hit'- it's more for the generation who lived their youth in the 70s maybe. Ken Hensley on the organ and Kerslake on the drums are thumping like a train all the way through this track. Again- a large amount of falsetto to the ding-dong of a bell at the bridge. Yes- I am indeed at liberty to use the term 'bridge' for this track...this song is definitely not prog.

Poet's Justice: I, personally, love this one. You tend to love a song that you can relate to the lyrics of. All sing with their characteristic "Ah"s like a choir at the start- melody always going UP in the verse. This is a gorgeous lovesong: "The half of me is all of her, I'd be much happier if I were whole." Very sexy distorted electric-guitar work in this too. Sure the format of this song prooves that it's not prog- but it's still a damn good song!

Circle of Hands: This is a rather boring song. It's not completely bad- it just doesn't do anything for me. The reason why is a sub-conscious one. But David Byron is the highlight of this song- if anything needs to be largely applauded in it. The organ chords remain solemn and everything else is a constant recurring beat. Things get better after the bridge- one again there's a head-banging guitar solo. Squeaky guitar effects and tinkling piano at the end - the whole track was leading up to this bit!

Rainbow Demon: The beginning of this reminds me of Ritchie Blackmore's 'Rainbow' album. This is a very hard track to get into because the melodies have been heard before. David Byron is still the main attraction. The bass also plays a good part in this organ-dominated song. That's Gary Thain for you- a fantastic musician while he still lived. He was also a kiwi- something for me to actually be proud of my country for!

All my Life: An extremely SHORT song for all the happy-and-horny blokes out there to relate/sing to. "I wanna make-love and it's gotta be you!" Cute. Gotta love the guitar work the whole way through: it may be repetitive but it's the way Mick Box, Henley and Thain work together on this one riff that really makes it as good as it gets. This song has a fast-paced verse but a slow choir-like chorus. Again Byron sounds like he's just been kicked in the nuts. Close to the end he improvises and sings as if he's being slapped constantly in the face. The man basks in his own torture!

Paradise/ The Spell: Quintessential UH- this song is, most sincerely, the masterpiece of the album. It's also definitely Progressive Rock for you!-due to the length of the song and the changes in tempo and melody throughout it. Firstly we hear a gentle and romantic acoustic ballad. Soft, husky singing goes in beautiful contrast with Byron's strong and clear voice. In contrast with the last song- the theme of this song is that his girlfriend has just dumped him. I love the changes in feeling seen in this song: from 'How could you do this to me darling?' to 'f*ck you- I'll manage without you'. (My ex is still going through this changing-of-emotions phase... poor guy.) This song captures the essence of human emotions quite vividly by using this technique. The changes build-up, firstly, at "What's the use, you turned me loose and left me here to die." One hears a repeating melody but the drumming, organ and guitar build up to a 'chant'. As this fades-out- a happier song drifts in over it. It's a cute dancing-style piano and organ. Apparantly "Darkness" (is Byron's) "tool". *giggle* Could Uriah Heep have been early 'goths'? The 'Darkness' imagery is also used in 'The Magician's Birthday'..see- this is pure evidence that 'The Darkness' were indeed inspired by Uriah Heep! (Hawkins really does love to take the piss out of 70s falsetto, doesn't he.) The sad melody comes back again abruptly as the piano plays a solemn chordal progression and the guitar takes over- emphasizing the feeling of a VERY depressed man as it improvises. The piano highlights this even more and as it changes to a major key- it's enough to make me cry: "The morning sun will warm away what you have done and leave you cold." From then on the piano takes the lead above all the other instruments- till the transition back to the happy, dancing organ chords that we heard before and the falsetto-sung melody. The end is a bit too happy for my liking- it takes away the authenticity and sincerity of the song. (Or maybe that's just me being a tad too 'feminine'.) It ends on a major key that it rises to as Byron sings: "...everyday that I'll be watching YOU!"

In conclusion: Uriah Heep are fun to listen to- their music conveys the type of rock n' roll you still get nowadays sung by hot, talented, lazy, shaggable men of a questionable sexuality..not that I think they were hot back then. In fact they all looked like poodles to me.....ANYWAY- on the other hand, some of their songs can be so easy- listening that they don't really capture me as something to care about if they weren't on a Prog-Rock site. But....They have their moments. They DEFINITELY had their moments!

Starette | 3/5 |


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