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Uriah Heep

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4 stars I haven't heard a live Uriah Heep album since one of the best live recordings ever was released by the group back in 1973. Live set the standard for unprecedented successes in live recordings such as Frampton Comes Alive. For those of you too young to remember, Uriah Heep was a progressive-rock band of the highest order for many years. They are going through an enjoyable phase of their long and successful career right now. Interest in their history has been renewed with a series of remastered back catalog recordings (Sanctuary/Castle) and special live events in the U.K. The only remaining original members are co-founder Mick Box (guitar) and Lee Kerslake (drums). Box founded the group with now deceased lead singer David Byron. Some thirty members have come and gone since their inception, and they have survived all the changes to bring you new material and an exciting new live recording. The group's album cover art is always recognizable. Roger Dean (Yes covers) is the man that makes the fantasy science fiction scenes so memorable. Demons And Wizards and The Magician's Birthday are the albums that always come to mind for some of the more colorful, thought provoking, and graphically intense images.

All the excitement and wonderment of youth came rushing back to me in an instant as they kick things off with "Return To Fantasy," then its followed by a raucous and rocking "Bird Of Prey." Bernie Shaw fits in well with the scheme of things, he sounds like a true-to-form Uriah Heep vocalist reminiscent of David Byron. Shaw introduces their latest single "Come Away Melinda," which I thought was a little too soft and top forty for these old rockers. [Um, well, it was originally released in 1970 on Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble (or Uriah Heep in the US) - ed.] "Gypsy", "Sunrise", and "July Morning" are real keepers. Those three tracks were my personal favorites of the electric set. It's vintage early Heep at its very best. The court jester Ian Anderson shows up on both sets to add his famous flute sounds to the mix for a short time, giving the crowd a burst of his charm and enchantment, which only adds to the magic of the performances. Mick Box remains the ever present anchor of the group. He still has what it takes to rock after all these years, and he serves as an example to younger musicians how you can have a long and successful career and survive it quite nicely without overdosing or killing yourself.

The disc has a nice steady flow with a gradual momentum that reaches its peak towards the end of the show. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this set. It reminded me of how important this group was to me when I was a teenager. They were one of the first bands that planted the seed that continues to grow and blossom to this day. Uriah Heep is one of the original British prog-rockers that became as important and influential as Yes, the proof is on this CD. Long live rock and roll!

Report this review (#31439)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars With the enourmous amount of live albums released by the band, it must be pretty difficult for the casual fan (or newbie) to decide which one is the best to grab. Actually, the choice is very easy. Get the newly remastered version of their fantastic "Live '73" album which holds two CD's (the original album and "The King Biscuit" one).

Now, things get more complicated if you would like to get an additional one. I would suggest you to avoid both "Live at Shepperton " and "Live in Europe". In 1988, the band will release "Live In Moscow" which could be an option.

This "Electrially Driven" live effort, is IMO probably the best choice so far (since the Heep will be taken by the frenzy of releasing lots of live stuff afterwards).

Several anthems of the band are played very well and less know numbers as the heavier "Universal Wheels" from one of their best album (post Byron period of course) : "Sea Of Light". "Between Two Worlds" from their last studio album ("Sonic...") is really great. I can not have the same positive comment about "I Hear Voices".

We'll be travelling in time (!) with the next number which brings us back to their very first album. This is a gentle acoustic song. When I reviewed the studio album ("Very 'Eavy, Vey 'Umble") I mentioned that the track was almost prog. This version holds not so much keys though and is more acoustic guitar oriented. Still, a nice break.

This song will open a serie of old tracks belonging to the best Heep's repertoire with a very pleasant surprise : the presence of Ian Anderson for the next two songs. He adds his flute playing during the intro of "Circle" which is a very nice addition. He did already joined the Heep during the "Acoustically Driven" set. It sounds as if the whole song has been revisited by Tull. Extremely pleasant and so original. It really transforms this very average studio track.

"Blind Eye" will get the same treatment. And my judgment is the same (but I admit that I am biased since I am a die-hard fan of the Tull as well). These two songs are a very nice present. A great emotional moment (at least for me), but I really wanted to share this feeling with you).

The four last numbers will be a kaleidoscope of the best ones of the Heep. "Sunrise is great and it is just a pity that "Gipsy" has been reduced to a mere three minutes, but let's not be too difficult. "July Morning" is one of my all time favourite and is brilliantly performed here.

I discovered the band in 1972 with the single "Easy Livin" so I am completely biased when I hear this song even if most of the time live versions have never reached the quality of the studio one. But honestly, this might well be the best live one available.

This live album is a very pleasant travel in the Heep's repertoire. Not too many average songs, Ian Anderson's skills to raise the level of two songs and a great amount of classic Heep legendary tracks propel this live set to one of their very best so far IMHHO (in my humble and honest opinion).

Seven out of ten would be a logical rating, but I guess that I'm in a pretty much nostalgic mood today, so I will upgrade this to four stars. Give this one a try not for its "progessivity" which is close to none (as most of their work actually) but for the emotion it conveys.

Report this review (#126125)
Posted Sunday, June 17, 2007 | Review Permalink

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