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Uriah Heep - Salisbury CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

4.19 | 824 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars It's often the case with albums that have a sidelong epic that the shorter tracks simply can't stand up. In such cases, I often find myself skipping tracks to get to the epic, or, if the epic comes first, just turning off the album after it's over. It's for precisely this reason that I have trouble even remembering the names of the tracks on the back half of ELP's Tarkus despite having the titular epic completely memorized, and why I so often struggle to remember what "Can-Utility and the Coastliners" sounds like when I could probably transcribe the lyrics to "Supper's Ready" offhand. It's simply very hard for a band to create a selection of shorter tracks that can adequately balance the grandiosity that often comes standard in the longer tracks of classic prog.

With that said, I hope I can accurately convey the level of admiration I have for the construction of Uriah Heep's Salisbury. If you've ever heard the incredibly grandiose title track than you know it's an absolute monster, but the five tracks that accompany it are collectively so good that I never find myself anxious to skip through them. In fact, whenever I listen to this album from front to back, I enjoy myself so much through the shorter tracks that I often forget the massive title track even exists until it starts.

"Bird of Prey," for example, is the kind of track that would be the best song on any album but this one. It has one of the most driving riffs I've ever heard, and David Byron's vocal delivery, while perhaps not technically perfect, sounds absolutely amazing. The album certainly doesn't fall off at all from this very high starting point, either; "The Park" foreshadows the acoustic, falsetto, ethereal style that would show up on Zeppelin's "The Battle of Evermore" only 8 months later, and "Time to Live" comes very close to matching the pounding intensity of "Bird of Prey." With another fantastic vocal delivery from Byron and some stunning guitar solos, it may be a little less subtle than either of the previous tracks but it rocks more than hard enough to make up for it. "Lady In Black" continues on with a fantastic western twang, jangly guitars wonderfully complementing more laid back but still intense vocals, and "High Priestess" is another galloping rocker with some excellent bass playing and an eccentric repeating guitar motif that pulls attention from the admittedly slightly cheesy lyrics.

The album could, in my opinion, end there and still be a 4 star (if very short) effort. But no. The band isn't just content to make some of the most consistently excellent rock of the early 70s, they have to push it to the next level. For the sake of all of us who are listening 40 years later, I'm extremely glad they did. "Salisbury," in my book, deserves to be mentioned along with all the big-name epics. While it might not reach the compositional perfection of "Supper's Ready" or the virtuosic playing of "Karn Evil 9," it's much tighter than the latter and rocks considerably harder than the former, and the result is one heck of a track. Featuring grand horn fanfares that only add and never distract, as well as soaring vocal melodies and killer solos, it's a masterpiece of proggy hard rock and just a killer piece all around.

I had never listened to Uriah Heep prior to hearing this album, but I've been obsessing over it since I first heard it about a month ago. I don't know if the band suspected or suspects that their 1971 album would have the staying power to be heard by twenty-somethings in 2012, but they made a masterpiece then and I'm here to say that it's just as good now. Killer stuff.


VanVanVan | 5/5 |


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