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


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

3.86 | 563 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars ... and then it all started to go downhill.

To the band's credit, it wasn't really their fault that their fifth album, 'The Magician's Birthday' was something of a mess when compared to their previous albums. The deadline of this album had been set just 6 months after the release of 'Demons and Wizards', and with constant touring and a high reputation to maintain. The band were very overworked by this point - and it shows.

The album had originally been planned as a concept album, to follow up the fantasy-tinged 'Demons and Wizards'. However, with such a tight schedule, the concept couldn't be developed into an album-length story, and the band had to settle with what they had: the title track The Magician's Birthday. At 10 minutes in length, this is actually a great song, worthy of 'Demons and Wizards'. Essentially, it is two 3 minute songs joined together by a bitchin' instrumental. This instrumental is a breakneck jam between Mick Box on guitar and Lee Kerslake on drums, with some bizarre effects heard on top. The song also shows the fun side of Heep: the chorus in the first part of the song is a rendition of Happy Birthday To You with Kerslake on kazoo. If it is worth buying the album, then it is definitely for this song alone.

The other seven songs are all relatively forgettable. For a taster, the opening track Sunrise seems to have a good riff, but the song goes nowhere. The second track, Spider Woman has some of the worst lyrics ever (if you hadn't guessed from the name already!). The good moments are few and far between. After listening to this album, you will likely have forgotten these pieces. It's ironic, really, how Hensley talks about the 'tightness, togetherness if you like' of the album in the sleeve notes.

Years after recording this album, the band would agree that this was a rushed project. Even the elaborate Roger Dean artwork seems rushed, with sections of the art that still need be filled in! If the concept album had had the same quality throughout as the title track, we could have had something really special, possibly a magnum opus. Instead, this is a bit of a disaster.

baz91 | 2/5 |


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