Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Uriah Heep - Return to Fantasy CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep

Heavy Prog

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Back to the future?

The title of course refers to the "Demons and Wizards"/"Magician's Birthday" period, which had brought Uriah Heep both their best music, and their biggest success to date. It is however is somewhat misleading, as there's little in the way of wizards, demons, or indeed magicians. What there is however is a good collection of Uriah Heep songs.

With John Wetton on bass in place of the dismissed Gary Thain, the band had the opportunity to exploit Wetton's songwriting and vocal skills, but once again it's Hensley's songwriting which dominates the album. David Byron is still in fine form vocally, thus Wetton becomes almost a session player, providing bass and only occasional backing vocals (it was subsequently revealed that he was actually a "salaried" band member only).

Apart from the opening title track, side one of the LP contains much the weaker tracks on the album. "Return to fantasy" is a fine piece of faster paced Heep, with a driving rhythm, and pulsating keyboards. The remaining tracks on side one are a bit by-the-numbers Heep, although "Beautiful dream" has some good keyboards.

The second side is more diverse, with a couple of fine ballads allowing Byron to display his more sensitive side. The unaccompanied intro to "Why did you go" is particularly delicate, and would have been a challenge beyond most of Byron's contemporaries. The final track, "A year or a day" builds superbly from a slow soft start to a climactic conclusion, with lyrical echoes of "The wizard".

While "Return to Fantasy" is a fine album, it does not consistently meet the enormously high standards the band had set for themselves. There are some excellent moments, but there's also an apparent lack of ambition at times, with some treading of water in evidence.

The deluxe remaster includes seven bonus tracks, two of which are single B sides, four are advanced demos, and one a cut and paste extension of the title track.

Report this review (#31336)
Posted Saturday, June 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars "Return To Fantasy" saw Gary Thain replaced by ASIA/KING CRIMSON's John Wetton who brought a new feel into the HEEP's sound. This album has all the heavy tones and grinds you would expect from URIAH HEEP with David Byron's powerful operatic rock voice, Mick Box's guitar work , Ken Hensley's keyboards and Lee Kepslake's drumming. There is no question that this is a heavy toned concept album with dark progressive overtones. I grew up with the music of Uriah Heep and always found something magical in this band with "Return To Fantasy" ranking as one of my favs (certainly from the mid 70's work). Once again the Castle Records Re-mastered CD version offers some pretty amazing sound quality (ie. speaker panning) for your stereo.
Report this review (#31339)
Posted Friday, February 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpaa
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The title song "Return to Fantasy" reveals the album's content via imaginative keyboards, hazy melodies and mystical themes. I think these factors truly combine the best elements of both Hensley and Byron. Other "artistic" highlight from the album is "Beautiful Dream", a keyboard driven song with beautiful vocal parts, interesting magic feelings and good rock themes. Sadly there are quite many poor songs on this album too, like "Shady Lady" going just for a poor basic rock boogie of the 1970's. "Devil's Daughter" is also a conventional track, but a much better performed. If you are keen of the band's music, I think it is a good idea to listen through this album, as there are some quite good moments on it. But to be honest, they are not very dominant this unbalanced album. Closing number "A Year or A Day" is a good one, but in a way emphasizes the futility of the less imaginative songs preceding it. I haven't heard the recent re-masters, so I don't know the worth of the bonus material. It was a surprise to me that John Wetton was already on this album, as I have a cheap Castle reissue version from early 1990's without line-up notes. Somehow felt his presence more evidently on the following "High and Mighty".
Report this review (#31341)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars uo!!! "Return to Fantsy" is for me, with "Magician's Birthday" their best album. In special this... complete album is full of great songs, hard rock, symphonic, progressive, ballads, blues, all is on this album. Great melodies like "You turn to Remember" or the title track "Return to Fantasy", rocker like "Devil's Daughter" make of this album, an essential cd (or lp, like me) for all fans of Uriah Heep, and rock in general. Great!
Report this review (#31346)
Posted Monday, May 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album is a varied effort. Some of the tracks are great and some quite generic and even boring. The title-track is a great Uriah Heep classic and "Beautiful Dream" features an amazing moog intro, "Devil's Daugther" has a very nice section in the middle with moog, almost jazzy fealing. But songs like "Shady Lady" and "Prima Donna" are too much of straightforward rock'n'roll songs both musically and lyrically. Those songs prevent this album from getting 4 stars. But still an album Uriah Heep fans can't do without!
Report this review (#39340)
Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars A high 2 stars, because the good stuff is very good. But this is a lopsided record stuffed with filler. Things begin promisingly with the first half. The return to their most beloved material hinted at with the title and artwork actually manifests itself with opener "Return To Fantasy". Full of emotion, mystery and swirling keys, along with a solid rhythm section that sees John Wetton's bass joining in with Lee Kerslake on drums after the ouster of troubled bassist Gary Thain, the song is no less than a Uriah Heep classic. Two hard-rock songs follow in the form of "Shady Lady" (a forgettable boogie number) and the excellent "Devil's Daughter". Album highlight "Beautiful Dream" follows, a magnificent song highlighting Ken Hensley's Moog expertise, stacking even more keyboards on top of that, along with one of David Byron's last bits of vocal magic. "Beautiful Dream" is one of the reasons Uriah Heep appeals to many prog fans, as these fantasy-laced, celestial kinds of things are in abundance throughout their '70s albums.

But then things sour quickly. The listener is asked to sit through four absolutely dire songs: "Your Turn To Remember", "Prima Donna", "Showdown" and "Why Did You Go": a high-school dance shuffle, a bass-horn diseased country-rocker, slide-guitar driven country-rock (again) and a vacant love song (frustratingly, with even more twangy country guitar work!). It's only "A Year And A Day" that makes the second side less than horrendous, its ethereal opening giving way to a poignant organ-driven anthem and then back again to the gentler, more contemplative atmospheres.

The two songs relegated to b-side purgatory ("Shout It Out" and "The Time Will Come") are very good. Had they replaced some of the filler, we'd have a very strong album here. Instead they served up 4 excellent songs and 5 abominations. Approach with caution.

Report this review (#44231)
Posted Thursday, August 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Heep are back in town. Although 'Return to Fantasy' ain't a masterpiece it's a break with the former 2 albums. Heep got back from ordinary hard-rock to more symphonic prog sounds. The opening number 'Return to Fantasy' ia an old-days Heep number. And from the final track 'A year or a day' I got 'Tears in my Eyes' (which happens to be a great track on 'Look at Yourself'.

OK, the album still contains some bluesy rock tracks bu most of them are not unpleasant. Up we go with 3 stars.

Report this review (#60202)
Posted Monday, December 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Seen from the height of a thousand miles, the earth looks the same as it did. How is it we can fly faster than day but we can't find the things we need. Young man said the old man, Let the youth in your heart be at rest We may all be dead In a year or a day When the devil is put to the test . test . test ... "Test!" . JRENG!

Oh .. how can I switch to Uriah Heep music right after watching an awesome concert by Dream Theater on 27 January 2006 at Singapore Indoor Stadium? Finally, after a week post DT concert - where the whole week I could not play any CD but DT's CDs! - I could really put Heep's CDs at my player. Why Heep? Two reasons: First, the band would play at two cities in my country: Jakarta (12 February 2006 at Tennis Indoor Stadium) and Surabaya (14 February 2006 at Shangrila Hotel, Ballroom). So, I'd better get used to the music before the show after I have been so long baombarded my ears with Dream Theater songs. Second, there has just recently an excellent interview with the band by my collaborator colleague Bob McBeath at this site. So, I'd better focus on Uriah Heep CDs until the show at 12 February. Potentially, I would also watch the Surabay concert because I'd probably have an assignment there on 14th Feb. Well, it's not coincibence, it's an intention - because Heep was my hero during my "right"placed childhood man ..!!!!

"Return To Fantasy" has a personal meaning for me as I first got the album in the form of cassette (then was illegal) when I visited Jakarta (Then I lived in Madiun, East Java). The album blew me away at first listen as the cassette started the album with "A Year or A Day" song that originally was the last track of the album. Wow! This song is really excellent! It starts in an ambient nuance with a soft and long sustain keyboard work by Hensley followed brilliantly with a melodic singing line of Byron in an accentuated voice: "Seen from the height of a thousand miles ." oh . (I almost cry listening the tone of voice Byron sings here's so powerful - I call it "mbrebes mili"). What a memorable part here! The musical nuance even better when the lyrical part enters this one: "Can't we try to let the past go by. With it's lessons firmly settled in our minds. To our children one by one. And before the darkness comes. Let us leave a world full of light of a different kind..". Yeah . it's really killing! Why? The rhythm section that comprises acoustic guitar rhythm by Mick Box and soft keyboard make the music really melodic to my ears. Great composition, strong songwriting! This is one of my best favorite Uriah Heep tracks!

"Return To Fantasy" (5:52) was previously not a favorite for me. But after I watched the Magician's Birthday Party DVD (2002) where this song was featured I came to realize the power of this song. The Uriah Heep sound is presented neatly here in relatively fast tempo music. Gary Thain is one of the best Bass player in rock music. His bass playing reminds me to the style of Yes' Chris Squire. Ken Hensley keyboard punch is also prevalent here with his dynamic notes and specific sound. The musical interlude with organ solo is stunning. Byron's voice is pretty clear and powerful. He is also one of the best rock singers.

"Shady Lady" (4:46) is a straight rock music with, again, great singing style of Byron. "Devil's Daughter (4:48) demonstrates good combination of soaring organ sound and upbeat drum work by Kerslake with guitar rhythm at transition parts. A dynamic and energetic track with interlude showing a combination of keyboard and guitar solos. Great combination! Kerslake shows how he can play great and dynamic drum work. "Beautiful Dream" (4:52) is another favorite of mine as well, especially with Byron's singing line and Hensley stunning keyboard style. Why I say about Byron? Because he really delivers a very high note registers in this song. Really good!

I don't really favor "Prima Donna" (3:11) where the band includes brass-section in it. It's not the kind of music that Heep is good at. So, I always skip this track. "Your Turn To Remember" (4:22) is Uriah Heep's style of blues combined with a touch of pop music. "Showdown" (4:17) brings back Uriah Heep's sound with a combination of Box' guitar and Hensley's organ, typical of Heep sound. "Why Did You Go" (3:53) is a ballad pop rock song with a good melody and powerful singing style and some bluesy touch.

It's not Uriah Heep's best album but it's worth it as this is the last album with David Byron as lead vocal. Some tracks are really excellent. I would rate this album with 3+ as it demonstrates good composition and melody. Keep on proggin' .!

To Uriah Heep: Welcome to Indonesia!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#68270)
Posted Saturday, February 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Among the good Uriah Heep albums, full of good pieces, in Heep standards, you could not compare with for example Minstrel in the gallery or Godbluff (talking about same year of relese), because is other kind of prog. Return to fantasy is that kind of album that you like it or not. For me is 3 stars, every track is better than what is on High and mighty, Wonderworld, but weaker than on Demons & Wizards and Look at yourself. Not to mention John Wetton on bass who did a great job, but i think this is not the kind of music he wants to play, you could see him latter in UK (where you can see the true value of this bass player). All in all a good album, not a masterpiece, but worth check out Some tracks to mention Return to fantasy, Devil's daughter, some slow ones like Your turn to remember showes a 3 star Uriah Heep album.
Report this review (#84599)
Posted Sunday, July 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars I guess that the Heep can only do better than its previous album, right ?

I must say that the opener revives the tradition of the great openers. It was quite a while ago that they didn't propose such a good track. Good Hensley keys. That's what the Heep is all about or did I miss something ? This title track is really good : fabulous keys and bass (again. This time by Wetton). Great Byron's vocals. Do we need anything more ? Probably not. Only to get more songs of this caliber of course.

But we won't get it with "Shady Lady" nor with "Devil's Daughter". This one being just a little superior (by an inch). Good hard-rocking piece but nothing from the other world. An average Heep song. In "Beautiful Dream", one can barely recognize Byron's vocals although the band does not sound too bad. "Prima Donna" is real bad : background trumpets and awful choirs. We plunge in the nightmare here. I just hope there won't be any other of this type on this album. Press skip of course.

"Your Turn to Remember" is a dull bluesy pop song. Backing vocals (woo oh type) are rather weak. The whole being far from great but so far on this album, the Heep has not been very strong to say the least. You could easily do as I recommend for the previous track : press next. The heavy-funky-bluesy "Showdown" is on par with the other tracks : rather weak and little inspired.

One gets a bit of rest with the nice ballad "Why Did You Go". While such a track was welcomed in earlier efforts for providing some relief between violent, hard-rocking numbers, one feels happy with this number just because it is above average. But a ballad being average for the Heep is rather abnormal, isn't it ?

"A Year Or a Day" is the second great track of the album : almost as good as the title track. Acoustic, great melody and very nice tempo. Finally ! Unfortunately, two good songs do not make a great album. The crescendo building is quite interesting and the band provides a very good support (especially Hensley). But this was the last song of the original album !

The first bonus track "Shout It Out" is a heavy, hard rock track : slow tempo, strong keys (as usual) and good drumming. Melody is also nice. Good song. Almost Purple one. Byron's vocals are great. I wonder why this song did not make the original album (but that's not the first time I make this judgment with their remastered/expanded versions). It is one of the best song on this album (together with the edited version of "Return To Fantasy" which is really great)

"The Time Will Come" is not good nor bad. Still too mellowish in comparison with their earlier production.

All in all, this album does not reach the level of their first five albums. It just holds an average quality of "Wonderworld". Not bad but not great either. Two stars.

Report this review (#115813)
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This record is the epitome of sophisticated hard rock with some very light progressive elements. It has obvious similitudes with Deep Purple, Argent, The Who and Nektar, at least the combination organ-electric guitar, plus the lead & backing vocals. The musicians play VERY well, and the overall sound is rather happy American hard rock: they are probably one of the most American-sounding bands from UK. The lead singer has an irreproachable voice. There are some mini moog parts through a rhythmic dynamic bass, which sometimes gives them something approaching the Styx's style. They are a bit more progressive than common American hard rock bands like Kiss, Aerosmith and Boston, although they may sound less aggressive.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Report this review (#121956)
Posted Sunday, May 13, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / In Memoriam

Since Wonderworld, a few things happened; the bassist GARY THAIN has been kicked out for drug abuses, and .worst, he would ultimately die of electrocution while on stage a few months later!

Entering the mighty JOHN WETTON; you have to understand that at the time JOHN WETTON was big, big in the prog world, almost a god for all the KING CRIMSON fans and we were a lot of them back then. So when the news came out that the great bassist was joining URIAH HEEP, it was kind of a schock in the rock music community. On one side, the septics were wondering how such a great talent was wasting hist time with an inept band, as others like me who enjoyed the best of those 2 worlds were salivating about the possibilities: ''Exiles'' meeting ''easy livin''!!!!

I remember also back then the upcoming album of this reunion ''RETURN TO FANTASY'' was promoted heavily in the rock medias as the big return of URIAH HEEP!! Imagine URIAH HEEP and JOHN WETTON together; what a winning combination it would be!!

But that was not to be!!!! John WETTON has no part whatsoever in the writing process!! nothing! Would his vocal abilities be used, at least? nope, just vocal harmonies with the other 3 in the background. Actually, the role of WETTON is merely the one from a session bassist.

What about the music, are yo asking? Nothing bad as some songs we had on WONDERWORLD, but nothing really exciting either ,! but what a one!!!! The title track ''RETURN TO FANTASY'' is one of the best all time URIAH HEEP songs; nothing to say about the speedy music in the background, but what counts is the melody sang powerfully by a great DAVID BYRON, what a wonderful song,! how did KEN HENSLEY and BYRON came up with such a magical song!! What a way to start an album!!!

Sadly, things will go down quite rapidly after that; there is no return to fantasy like in DEMONS AND WIZARDS. What you get is mainly blues-rock numbers and some ...boogies like ''you turn to remember'', you would never think a band like URIAH HEEP would record. But yes, they did!! so much for the influence of JOHN WETTON! they could have used any bassist from Alabama or Memphis for the matter.

The great come back of URIAH HEEP? hardly! I don't know if i should give 2 or 3 stars!! the title track is great and it still sound better than wonderworld! 2.5 starsrounded to ....


Report this review (#130709)
Posted Sunday, July 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars 3.5 stars, really. This was to be Uriah heep´s big ´comeback´ album after the somewhat disappointing Wonderworld album and the tragic loss of their great bass player Gary Thain (who had died of drug overdose). With the celebrated John Wetton (of Family and King Crimson fame) as his replacement, one clould only hope for the best. But, alas, this was not to be. Not that Return To Fanasy is a bad album. It is not. But from the cover picture to the title of the album everything indicated their return (no pun intended) to the ´Demons and Wizzards´and Magician´s Birthday' golden period. Was it?

Well, the opening track, Return To Fantasy, goes exactly to that period. It is one of their classic songs, with great keyboards, interesting lyric, excellent vocals by David Byron and Wetton´s thumping bass proving to be ideal for the band. Unfortunatly the next songs are not of the same caliber. In fact, Shady Lady and Devil´s Daughter are some of the weakest Heep tracks recorded so far. Beautiful Dream, a better tune, sounds a bit forced and never delivers. Prima Donna is a fine little rocker that works (thanks to the help of Mel Collins saxes), but adds little to the Heep cathalog. Things start to go uphill from then on: Your turn To Remember is a fine slow rocker with great backing vocals and Why Did You Go is one of their beautiful ballads (BJ Cole on the steel guitar here). And the album closer, A Year Or a Day is the only other truly album´s gem, a great prog song with inspired lyrics and powerful playing from all band members.

So, in the end, Return To Fantasy was not what most fans expect at the time. It has only two great songs, three good ones and 3 quite weak tunes. After all these years my opinion hasn´t changed much: a good album with two classics on it. A bit little for such a great band.

Report this review (#172865)
Posted Monday, June 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars They didn't return quite yet

Return To Fantasy is not a very good album, I'm afraid. There are, however, a few good songs on this album. The opening title track is the best of these and this song is among the band's best ever songs! The second track is, on the other hand, a generic Rock 'N' Roll number with trite lyrics. The same is true of Prima Donna and Showdown. Devil's Daughter, Beautiful Dream, Your Turn To Remember and A Year Of A Day are all decent songs. Why Did You Go is a nice ballad, but the lyrics are cheesy and a bit too direct.

Most of these songs have been performed live by the present line up of the band with Bernie Shaw on vocals. Personally, I prefer these new versions.

I think that Uriah Heep very often choose quantity over quality. They made so many albums in the 70's, but many of them sound unfinished and rushed. They really should have put in more time and effort in all stages of the production from writing to recording to mixing, etc. Ken Hensley is a good song writer as proven by his finest moments, but he seems to have desperately needed someone else's advice in picking out his good songs and sending him back to the drawing board when he approached the band with some less-than-decent songs.

Some good moments here, but also some barely acceptable ones

Report this review (#177816)
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Return to Fantasy is one of my favourite Uriah Heep albums!It is so energetic and the vocals preformed by David Byron are so strong.The guitar work by Mick Box is really creative,too!I think it is one of their best works,but I think there are some really weak parts of the album,surrounded by perfect moments,of course! Now I will prove my rating song by song:

1.Return to Fantasy - 5:perfect song with so much drama and artistic sense! 2.Shady Lady - 4.5:progressive beginning and end with hard guitar rock & roll middle section! 3.Devil's Daughter - 4.5:superb chaotic mixture between hard and progressive rock! 4.Beautiful Dream - 5:unique,just Uriah Heep at their best! 5.Prima Donna - 2.8:extremely weak song for the quality of the album,passable rock & roll! 6.Your Turn to Remember - 3.5:the first slow song on the album with enough good moments! 7.Show Down - 4:rock & roll elements close to Shady Lady style! 8.Why Did You Go - 3.3:average quality ballad! 9.A Year Or a Day - 5:perfect end with great fantasy lyrics!

The final rating for me: 4.17 stars!Because of this bad moments I can't give 5 stars,despite being so favourite album.Of course,the album is good enough for 4 stars - an excellent addition to any prog music collection!

Report this review (#181831)
Posted Friday, September 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars It's a common feature on prog archives that many bands keep receiving high ratings for albums that were released way past the band's prime, simply because the only remaining ratings are from fans. By contrast, the most acclaimed albums suffer from low ratings by occasional onlookers who are not into the band at all.

Quite to my surprise, this Return To Fantasy is even discarded by most of the fanbase. Not that it can claim past greatness but at least it is a lot more consistent then the three previous albums. I like some of the songs here even more then what appeared on Demons and Wizards.

Return to Fantasy is a great epic track with plenty of vocal harmonies, good melodies and great organ and synth leads, nothing new but well-written and focussed. Shady Lady is forgettable rock 'n' Roll but Devil's Daughter is another catchy tune that wouldn't have been out of place on the debut.

Beautiful Dream counts even as one of my Heep favourites. Especially the synth intro is downright classic, but the entire songs is wonderful really. The high pitched vocals at the end reach heights that only Judas Priest and King Diamond have claimed since.

After a number of average songs, the album ends strongly with A Year Or A Day. I can really recommend those songs to everyone that loved Uriah Heep's classic albums.

Report this review (#254929)
Posted Tuesday, December 8, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Though there are some excellent songs on here, this is definatly lopsided. First side is amazing, and the second side is filled with, well, fillers. They returned to fantasy with the first part, but it fantasizes me how they could screw up the second side. This album also marks the absence and death of former bassist Gary Thain, who is replaced by the very experienced John Wetton, who is always present, though maybe not as melodic or as powerful as Gary was. We get the whole package here, David Byron's theatrical vocals, Mick Box's powerful guitar playing, Ken Hensley's distorted hammond organ, Lee's forceful drumming, and John Wetton's skilled bass playing.

"Return to Fantasy" is excellent, it's a very scary sounding song, and a great opener at that. The organ is loud, as with the soaring guitar, crunchy basslines, and the drumming up to par. The lyrics are very good, and are very different from the second side, because it's much more of a poem that makes sense. The vocals are amazing, and are very haunting, the only way that David could do it. "Shady Lady" continues that darker kind of sound, but it's not as heavy metal as the last track. The guitar is playing melodic lines, and the basslines are distorted and are very crunchy, nice Percision Bass tone. The drumming by our very own Lee is great. The lyrics aren't great, but the emotion that David Byron gives more than makes up for that. "Devil's Daughter" might be a bit like Van Halen to my ears, at the opening riff. The riff is very nice, but it's much more metallic sounding than I am used to. The organ after the guitar intro is very good and it gets me into the groove. The bassline is excellent and is very loud, as with the whole rhythm section being loud and forceful. The lyrics are very nice, and, again, David adds that emotion that only he can do. I get a little less of that because there aren't as many vocal harmonies on this one. "Beauiful Dream" features a strong mini-moog and strong organ type of sound, with excellent drumming. It's alot darker than the last two songs, but it's dark in the sense of the first song, for some reason, I just think of halloween when I start to listen to this song, and I don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but I like it so I guess it's good. It's got a different vibe because of the haunting lyrics and excellent vocal harmonies. When David goes in falsetto, it just makes me laugh. It's just something about his falsetto. "Prima Donna" is a terrible song, it just sounds terrible next to a very scary song like the last. The lyrics are terrible and are much different from all the other stuff that is on the album. It reminds me of a few songs on one of the last albums, Sweet Freedom, and not on the good songs. "Your Turn to Remember" is alright, it's a much slower song than that of the last, and it's much better. It seems like a song that would be played at the bar in a hit movie, when someone is look at some people in love, and they realize that they don't have love. The vocals don't have the spark, and the music seems a bit dry. It's good, it's just too slow and lacks dynamic to be a favorite of mine. "Showdown" isn't great, because it drags a bit. The song sounds a lot like some of their older songs to me, but with some much better guitar. The bassline isn't amazing or dazzeling in my ears, and David's spark is definatly gone. The vocals are just so boring and so normal, like going through the motions type of sound. The rhythm is laid down fine, though. "Why Did you Go?" is an excellent ballad, the only good song on the second side of the album. The vocal intro is excellent, and you can tell that David just has that passion and that drive to keep going. The guitar solo's in the beginning remind of something that would be playing a bit on country stations at the time, but it works a bit better with the vocals I think so. "A Year or a Day" is okay, not a great closer, but I just have nuetral feelings for it, mostly because it bores me a little bit and I could never get through the whole thing without realizing I can just skip it and get on to the next album. The lyrics are good, the music just seems uninspired, giving a boring performances.

There are some great songs, but there are a lot of fillers on the second side. A solid 3 stars, nothing more nothing less, for a half good album and a half boring album.

Report this review (#255668)
Posted Friday, December 11, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars RETURN TO FANTASY opens with the great title track and offers a mixture of really fine tracks and mediocre tracks. Highlights are "Return to Fantasy" , Beautiful World", and "A Year or a Day". There is some filler here: "Shady Lady", "Primma Donna", "Showdown". But the good stuff outweighs the bad due to the amazing lineup of David Byron, Mick Box, John Wetton, Ken Hensley, and Lee Kerslake. I don't think fits among the classic Uriah Heep albums like DEMONS AND WIZARDS, or SALISBURY, but it is miles above some of their 1980's ugly stepchildren such as CONQUEST which had that Judas Priest feel to them. About half of this is excellent, a quarter is good and the remains are poor or uninspired. Enough for an average of 3 stars.
Report this review (#443205)
Posted Thursday, May 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I like most of Uriah Heep's stuff up until this album. The title suggests a revisiting of old glories but it's a lie. John Wetton joins the group but none of his Crimson influence carries over. To be honest i have tried to get through this album many times and I just can't. Just bland song after bland song. It's too bad. This band showed a lot of promise early on in their career but their management steered them away from their strengths and then the ideas dried up. From this point on, all of their records are spotty and they became a second or third rate act.
Report this review (#916165)
Posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#2548200)
Posted Friday, June 4, 2021 | Review Permalink

URIAH HEEP Return to Fantasy ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of URIAH HEEP Return to Fantasy

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.