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URIAH HEEP

Heavy Prog • United Kingdom


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Uriah Heep picture
Uriah Heep biography
Founded in 1969 in London, England - Still active as of 2018

URIAH HEEP came into being in 1970, the band evolving from SPICE. The multi talented Ken HENSLEY, who had previously been a member of CLIFF BENNETT'S TOE FAT, and THE GODS (who also featured GREG LAKE in their line up) was brought in, initially to add an organ to the band's sound. In the early years, Hensley, together with Mick Box (guitar) and David Byron (vocals) formed the nucleus of the band. The rhythm section was somewhat transient with both bass and drums being played by a succession of band members. Of these, Paul Newton was probably the most influential member, particularly as early on his father was involved in managing the band.

It wasn't until their fourth album "Demons and Wizards" that the rhythm section was finally sorted out. Lee Kerslake (who had previously played with Hensley in The GODS) took over on drums, and Gary Thain (ex KEEF HARTLEY BAND) on bass. The difference was immediately obvious, and the "classic" line up was born. Sadly, Thain died in 1975 and Byron in the 1980's, both having been previously sacked by the band at different times due to drug and drink related problems respectively.

Line up changes have been a feature of the band throughout their career, with John Wetton, John Lawton, and Trevor Bolder being among the lengthy list of names to feature in the line up. These changes have not always proved to be for the better, and have at times resulted in disappointing albums, the most notorious of these being generally regarded as "Conquest". The band has on a number of occasions been on the brink of extinction, or at least a change of name. Guitarist Mick Box has however carried the torch and ensured that even today, the songs which made URIAH HEEP one of the top acts in the world, are still performed live.

The line up of Bolder, Kerslake, Box, Lanzon, Shaw holds the distinction of having been together for the longest period of any line up in the band's entire career. They still tour regularly, and released their latest album, "Wake the sleeper" in 2008. On that album, Russell Gilbrook plays drums, Kersalake having been forced into retirement for health reasons.

URIAH HEEP's music covers a multitude of styles. In prog terms, they lean towards heavy rock with symphonic overtones wh...
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URIAH HEEP discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

URIAH HEEP top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.37 | 497 ratings
Very 'Eavy...Very 'Umble
1970
3.56 | 233 ratings
Uriah Heep
1970
4.19 | 866 ratings
Salisbury
1971
4.13 | 767 ratings
Look at Yourself
1971
4.07 | 842 ratings
Demons and Wizards
1972
3.85 | 652 ratings
The Magician's Birthday
1972
3.45 | 387 ratings
Sweet Freedom
1973
3.11 | 333 ratings
Wonderworld
1974
3.15 | 331 ratings
Return to Fantasy
1975
3.16 | 271 ratings
High and Mighty
1976
3.55 | 293 ratings
Firefly
1977
2.87 | 225 ratings
Innocent Victim
1977
2.44 | 213 ratings
Fallen Angel
1978
2.61 | 182 ratings
Conquest
1980
2.84 | 197 ratings
Abominog
1982
2.38 | 153 ratings
Head First
1983
1.98 | 142 ratings
Equator
1985
2.56 | 131 ratings
Raging Silence
1989
2.08 | 121 ratings
Different World
1991
3.63 | 197 ratings
Sea Of Light
1995
3.21 | 136 ratings
Sonic Origami
1998
3.40 | 187 ratings
Wake The Sleeper
2008
2.70 | 87 ratings
Celebration - Forty Years Of Rock
2009
3.36 | 167 ratings
Into the Wild
2011
3.22 | 106 ratings
Outsider
2014
3.72 | 146 ratings
Living the Dream
2018

URIAH HEEP Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 194 ratings
Uriah Heep - Live
1973
2.76 | 36 ratings
Live At Shepperton '74
1986
2.77 | 37 ratings
Live in Europe 1979
1986
3.15 | 41 ratings
Live in Moscow
1988
3.06 | 32 ratings
Spellbinder Live
1996
2.96 | 21 ratings
Live On The King Biscuit Flower Hour
1997
3.64 | 17 ratings
Future Echoes Of The Past
2000
4.27 | 54 ratings
Acoustically Driven
2001
3.91 | 27 ratings
Electrically Driven
2001
4.12 | 49 ratings
The Magician's Birthday Party
2002
3.42 | 12 ratings
Live in the USA
2003
3.11 | 17 ratings
Magic Night
2004
3.29 | 12 ratings
Live at Sweden Rock Festival 2009 (Official Bootleg)
2010
2.21 | 10 ratings
Live in Budapest Hungary 2010 (Official Bootleg Volume II)
2010
4.04 | 7 ratings
Live in Kawasaki, Japan 2010 (Official Bootleg Volume III)
2011
4.25 | 16 ratings
Live In Armenia
2011
4.00 | 4 ratings
Live In Brisbane Australia 2011 (Official Bootleg Volume IV)
2011
3.33 | 6 ratings
Live In Athens, Greece 2011 (Official Bootleg Vol. V)
2012
4.00 | 3 ratings
Live at the Rock of Ages Festival Germany 2008 (Official Bootleg Volume VI)
2013
3.93 | 11 ratings
Live at Koko London 2014
2015
3.00 | 3 ratings
Raging Through the Silence - - The 20th Anniversary Concert - Live At The London Astoria 18th May 1989
2017

URIAH HEEP Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.98 | 9 ratings
Easy Livin' - A history of Uriah Heep
1985
3.74 | 12 ratings
Gypsy (DVD)
1985
4.00 | 3 ratings
Raging Through The Silence
1989
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Legend Continues... A Celebration of 30 Years in Rock
2000
4.00 | 3 ratings
Classic Rock Legends (DVD)
2001
4.61 | 32 ratings
Acoustically Driven (DVD)
2001
2.00 | 2 ratings
Sailing The Sea Of Light
2001
3.86 | 12 ratings
Moscow And Beyond (DVD)
2002
4.17 | 21 ratings
The Magician's Birthday Party (DVD)
2002
3.38 | 8 ratings
Live In The USA (DVD)
2003
3.93 | 9 ratings
Inside Uriah Heep - The Hensley Years 1970-1976
2004
3.89 | 9 ratings
Inside Uriah Heep - The Hensley Years 1976-1980
2004
3.53 | 13 ratings
Magic Night (The Magicians Birthday Party 2003) (DVD)
2004
4.46 | 10 ratings
Inside Uriah Heep - The Hensley Years 1970-1980
2004
4.23 | 34 ratings
Classic Heep - Live from the Byron era
2004
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Ultimate Anthology
2004
3.07 | 9 ratings
Between Two Worlds (Live In London 2004) (DVD)
2005
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Live Broadcasts
2005
3.00 | 3 ratings
Access All Areas (Live in Moscow)
2014
3.00 | 2 ratings
Access All Areas (20th Anniversary Concert)
2015
3.67 | 3 ratings
Live At Koko - London 2014
2015

URIAH HEEP Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 2 ratings
Downunda..
1974
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Best Of Uriah Heep
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Best Of Uriah Heep Vol. 2
1974
4.00 | 2 ratings
Best Of Uriah Heep
1974
4.00 | 2 ratings
The Very Best Of Uriah Heep
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
The Best of Uriah Heep
1975
3.21 | 14 ratings
The Best Of Uriah Heep
1976
0.00 | 0 ratings
Goldener Löwe
1978
4.00 | 1 ratings
Anthology Volume One
1986
5.00 | 1 ratings
Two Decades In Rock
1990
2.22 | 4 ratings
Still 'eavy, Still Proud
1990
3.52 | 10 ratings
Rarities From The Bronze Age
1991
0.00 | 0 ratings
July Morning / Rain
1991
3.41 | 14 ratings
The Lansdowne tapes
1993
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Ballads
1994
3.79 | 10 ratings
A Time Of Revelation - 25 years on
1996
2.96 | 4 ratings
Remasters - The Official Anthology (AKA Uriah Heep Gold - Looking Back 1970-2001)
2001
3.08 | 5 ratings
20th Century Masters: The Millenium Collection: the Best of Uriah Heep
2001
3.05 | 3 ratings
Come Away Melinda: The Ballads
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
Empty the Vaults: The Rarities
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
You Can't Keep A Good Band Down
2002
3.00 | 1 ratings
The Golden Palace
2002
3.00 | 3 ratings
Revelations - The Uriah Heep Anthology
2004
4.50 | 6 ratings
Gold from the Byron Era
2004
4.04 | 8 ratings
Chapter And Verse
2005
4.00 | 6 ratings
Travellers In Time Anthology Volume 1
2005
3.71 | 7 ratings
Easy Livin' - The Singles A's & B's
2006
3.00 | 1 ratings
Wake Up - The Singles Collection
2006
0.00 | 0 ratings
Greatest Hits
2006
3.33 | 3 ratings
Platinum Collection
2007
0.00 | 0 ratings
Best Of
2009
4.00 | 8 ratings
On The Rebound (A Very 'Eavy 40th Anniversary Collection)
2010
3.86 | 5 ratings
Wizards - The Best Of Uriah Heep
2011
0.00 | 0 ratings
Icon
2012
4.38 | 8 ratings
Totally Driven
2015
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Classic Rock Years
2016
4.00 | 4 ratings
Your Turn To Remember - The Definitive Anthology 1970-1990
2016
0.00 | 0 ratings
50 Years in Rock
2020

URIAH HEEP Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.91 | 3 ratings
Wake Up (Set Your Sights)
1970
4.13 | 8 ratings
Look At Yourself
1971
3.19 | 8 ratings
Lady In Black
1971
3.80 | 5 ratings
July Morning
1971
3.60 | 5 ratings
Gypsy
1971
3.00 | 4 ratings
Spider Woman
1972
0.00 | 0 ratings
Special DJ Copy of Uriah Heep
1972
3.43 | 7 ratings
The Wizard
1972
3.86 | 7 ratings
Easy Livin'
1972
4.00 | 2 ratings
Sweet Freedom
1973
2.67 | 3 ratings
Seven Stars
1973
2.67 | 3 ratings
Something Or Nothing
1974
4.00 | 1 ratings
Uriah Heep Live
1975
2.33 | 3 ratings
Prima Donna
1975
3.33 | 3 ratings
Return To Fantasy
1975
3.00 | 2 ratings
Make a Little Love
1976
2.50 | 2 ratings
Wise Man
1977
3.03 | 13 ratings
Free Me
1977
2.50 | 2 ratings
One More Night (remix)
1978
2.50 | 2 ratings
Come Back To Me
1978
2.33 | 3 ratings
Love Or Nothing
1978
2.57 | 7 ratings
Carry On
1980
3.00 | 6 ratings
Love Stealer
1980
2.50 | 2 ratings
Feelings
1980
2.23 | 7 ratings
Think It Over
1981
3.25 | 12 ratings
Abominog Junior EP
1982
2.83 | 6 ratings
That's The Way That It Is
1982
2.80 | 5 ratings
Lonely Nights
1983
3.50 | 6 ratings
Stay On Top
1983
3.80 | 5 ratings
Poor Little Rich Girl
1985
2.43 | 7 ratings
Rockarama
1985
3.00 | 4 ratings
Easy Livin' (live)
1988
3.25 | 4 ratings
Lady In Black
1988
2.33 | 3 ratings
Hold Your Head Up
1989
2.60 | 5 ratings
Blood Red Roses
1989
3.20 | 5 ratings
Dream On
1995
3.00 | 3 ratings
Come Away Melinda
2001
3.40 | 5 ratings
Lady In Black
2001
0.00 | 0 ratings
Official Bootleg Bad Rappenau 2009
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Official Bootleg Krefeld 2009
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Official Bootleg Salzburg 2009
2009
0.00 | 0 ratings
Wolverhampton Official Bootleg 2011
2011
3.40 | 5 ratings
One Minute
2014
4.00 | 3 ratings
Grazed by Heaven
2018

URIAH HEEP Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Magician's Birthday by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1972
3.85 | 652 ratings

BUY
The Magician's Birthday
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by AFlowerKingCrimson

3 stars This review was originally posted under a different username (but still me):

This is one of three Uriah Heep albums to be certified gold in the US. The other two are "Demons and Wizards" and "Sweet Freedom." I am not familiar with "Sweet Freedom" so I can't comment on that other than it does include one of the more well known songs in "Stealin." Demons and Wizards is actually a stronger album than The Magician's Birthday from my perspective. However, "The Magician's Birthday" sounds fresher and less dated.

The album starts with "Sunrise" which is a very good song to start off an album. The vocals and guitar virtually come out of nowhere and propel this heavy hitting song. It contains a very good example of what could be considered the trademark guitar sound of Mick Box. The song predates grunge in that it alternates between both soft and harsher moments.

Next up is "Spider Woman" which is a decent enough track but nothing extraordinary and probably one of the weaker songs on the album. It doesn't make the album poor but does little to raise it's quality either. Next up is "Blind Eye" which is a mid tempo tune with acoustic guitars at the foundation with electric soling on top of it all.

Track number four is "Echoes in the Dark" which has more keyboards than the other songs heard on the album so far. This is probably the closest the band ever got to sounding like Pink Floyd mainly because the weepy guitars have a very David Gilmour quality to them. The analog synths are a nice touch also.

The next track is "Rain" which is the most mellow song on the album. It has a slow dreamy quality that makes you think of staying home on a rainy afternoon. The song mostly consists of just vocals and keyboards(organ and piano). A very lovely song.

Track number six is "Sweet Lorraine" and it is possibly the best song on the album for my money. It's a very catchy up tempo rocker with lots of quirky synthesizer.

The second to last track on the album is "Tales" which is based around acoustic guitar. Some of the electric guitar that is heard mostly in the background sounds a bit on the country side but over all this track has the same kind of unique sound as "Echoes in the Dark" and "sweet Lorraine" due mainly to the spacey analog synths.

The last track on here is "the Magician's Birthday" and is by far the longest track on the album. By default it is the epic and probably the center piece(as well as obviously the title track). This track goes through a lot of different themes musically and even includes the children's instrument known as the gazoo. I find the part of the song that includes the "happy birthday" chant and the gazoo to be a bit silly but your mileage may vary. Still, it's a very good song and along with "Sweet Lorraine" the best song on the album. As quirky and unique as the other songs on this album are, I think this one takes the cake(pun intended).

While I still prefer "Demons and Wizards" there is really nothing weak on here and it's a very solid album for the most part. Maybe it has been lost in time to some degree but if you are looking to discover the discography of Uriah Heep this should probably be purchased earlier rather than later.

 Into the Wild by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.36 | 167 ratings

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Into the Wild
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars It says a lot that Uriah Heep, had finally got away from the revolving door of members coming and going in 1987. Except for the departure of long-time drummer Lee Kerslake in 2007 for health reasons, the line-up has remained the same with Bernie Shaw on vocals (you could pretty much say that he is the voice for UH now), forever UH member Mick Box, the only original member that has been with the band through everything, Phil Lanzon on keys, Trevor Bolder on bass and finally, Kerslake's replacement Russell Gilbrook on drums.

So, this line-up has had a lot of time to get familiar with each other, and quite honestly, they play as quite a tight union. The main problem is they have pretty much settled into a rather typical hard rock sound that has very little to do with progressive rock anymore. It's all quite straightforward, and the band has seen some success in a few countries with this formula.

To me, the music just doesn't stand out anymore as anything other than another good hard rock band. It is good that the band has found a foothold in their style, and they still get to show off the talents of their main players, Box on some really great guitar solos and Lanzon on the organ, they have that Deep Purple vibe, but with a rather formulaic and unoriginal sound. But, they do it well, don't get me wrong, it's just not music that stands out for me now. Deep Purple, the band that they are always compared to, at least has managed to incorporate their unique style into a current style of heavy rock, where Uriah Heep just pretty much sounds like any hard rock band and don't have enough uniqueness to keep them interesting, even in the non-progressive universe.

It always seems, however, that the band can still pull off a few really great tracks on each of their later albums. One of these is the real standout "Trail of Diamonds" which begins as a nice ballad-style and later evolves into an interesting heavy track with some excellent guitar and organ work, and even some great vocals from Shaw. This singing on this track tends to bring back some of the emotion we felt from the band in their early years, and that is always a big plus on a UH album. More emotion like this would help to raise the overall rating, but, unfortunately, this gets lost in following the formula and staying safe. At this point, UH is pretty much just maintaining the fans they have and not really winning over new fans or bringing back old fans that have lost faith in the band. More variety would have helped out too, but at least they still find time to allow Bolder to sing lead on one track, "Lost". There is a great organ solo at the end, but it fades too quickly. This track has some merit in that it is the last time we would hear his vocals and this album is the last time he plays for the band as he passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2013 and was replaced by Dave Rimmer who remains with the band today. There is one more standout moment with the ending track "Kiss of Freedom". Is it a coincidence that the two best tracks here are the longer ones (over 6 minutes)? Even then, there's nothing surprising here, it's just that these longer tracks seem to be better composed.

What you get here is mostly typical and predictable hard rock. There is plenty of this and the music will appeal to those fans. For me, it's not enough, even to satisfy the hard rocker in myself, as even in my mind, nothing much really stands out. It's just another album with a bunch of songs that could have easily fit on any of their albums released in 1990 to present. It's good, but I can't really recommend anything about it that you can't find on any other hard rock album. For the most part, the soul and fire of the early years is missing and you get a bunch of songs that could have easily come from the assembly line of hard rock songs.

 Innocent Victim by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1977
2.87 | 225 ratings

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Innocent Victim
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars This is the 2nd of the trilogy of albums with John Lawton as the frontman/vocalist for the band. This trilogy of albums would actually consist of the same line-up of musicians all across the board. You would think they would have been able to settle in to a decent sound during this time, but instead of getting better with time, things seemed to actually go downhill as time went on.

Innocent Victim is quite an obvious bridge in the middle that spans the first and third album in this trilogy. Starting off where "Firefly" left off, the album begins with some decent rockers, but none of them contain any progressive traits. If you are looking for that in this stage of UH's history, you find that anywhere here. The first four tracks sound like they could have easily fit on "Firefly". Then the track "Illusion" even seems to be a bit better as things slow down a bit. But, when you hear that messed up fade out at the end of the song, you wonder why it was cut off so short just when the tempo starts to move. Actually, there is a reason for that and it becomes more apparent on the 1997 and 2004 bonus tracks as the 2nd part of the intended "medley" is left intact on these editions.

The 2nd half of the album, in contrast, sounds like a sudden, abrupt turn to hard pop, and it is just awful. This is the direction the band would continue in for the last of this trilogy of albums "Fallen Angel". The songs "Free Me", "Cheat 'n' Lie" and "The Dance" are just plain awful attempts at trying to make their music accessible. You can't even call this straight ahead hard rock at this point, but if nothing else, it should have served as a warning to fans where the band was headed. UH wasn't meant to do pop and the 2nd half of this album proves that (along with all of "Fallen Angel"). The last track "Choices" is the strongest on this side of the album and also, surprisingly, the most soulful vocals we've heard from the band since Byron was fired. But nothing else on this album can save it at this point. Even "Choices" isn't interesting enough to search out this album for.

The bonus tracks on later reissues don't do much to bring any redemption to the output of the band at this time in their history. Yes, you get to hear the entire "Illusions/Masquerade" medley together and that at least explains that messy fade-out on the album. However, just like "Firefly", there is no progressive rock anywhere here to be found, but at least if they stayed in that same sound for the duration of this album, they wouldn't have to be accused of getting worse with each album this line-up released. "Firefly" got 3 stars, this one gets 2.5 (which I'll round up to 3), and I earlier gave "Fallen Angel" 2 stars, which still doesn't change since it is the worst of the three. After that album, the band decided to adjust it's line-up again, but they would still be a long way from their best work.

 Wonderworld by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.11 | 333 ratings

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Wonderworld
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Uriah Heep's 7th album (1974) follows along in the same style as their previous album "Sweet Freedom", it's a decent album where the band uses a lot of their trademark styles along with Byron's amazing vocals that also tried function as a way to build their audience. To do that, unfortunately, it meant paring back the progressive styles that made their previous work sound more inspired and interesting. As far as lite-progressive albums, though, it's still pretty good. The trademark organ, weird synths and over-the-top (sometimes) vocals are still there, it's just based on a more accessible rock/blues style that was much in the same vein as many Deep Purple albums.

Wonderworld - After a strong opening introduction, the music quiets down for the vocals and a building to the chorus. Similar to the strong ballads of previous albums which always featured heavier instrumental interludes. Nice and soulful, this one holds on to the past.

Suicidal Man - A heavier and rockier track that's much more beat and guitar driven with solid riffs. Excellent vocals especially in the ending.

The Shadows and the Wind - Soft organs bring this one in with a rolling percussion and more soulful singing, but becomes much more upbeat and heavy on the chorus and following verses.

So Tired - Anything but tired, a fast moving upbeat track, heavy on the organ and a driving beat. The bridge slows things up a bit, but it soon returns to the driving beat allowing for drum and bass breaks with a bit of guitar thrown in there to ramp up the heaviness.

The Easy Road - Piano led ballad with orchestral arrangement to create a bit of lushness. Drums come in later, but the song remains in the ballad realm. Nice track, but too short for the amount of trouble put into the orchestra.

Something or Nothing - A heavy, rocking and upbeat track which was released as a single. It's quite traditional when it comes to song structure and one that you would expect to do well on the radio, but I don't ever remember hearing it there.

I Won't Mind - One of the 2 longer tracks, this one at 6 minutes. A slow, pounding rhythm and bass bring in a killer guitar solo before the bluesy vocals come in. This one varies a bit in its overall blues style, but allows the drums to become more free which almost gives the feel of meter and/or tempo changes through the verses. These kinds of songs were where Byron was at his strongest, plus Mick Box gets to really shred on this one also for the extended instrumental ending.

We Got We - Awful title. Terrible lyrics. Dumb melody. Decent guitar solo in the middle, but that doesn't save the song.

Dreams - The 2nd of the longer tracks at just over 6 minutes. Starts as you would imagine, with slow ambient, droning organ and eerie UH style synth. After a minute, the tempo picks up and vocals come in. Has some recollection to earlier, more progressive albums. The middle section is some great classic UH sound with a nice build up to the next verse. However, you expect a little more jamming here instead of sliding so quickly into the verse. The build up is repeated in variation at the end, this time taking more time to build up with some bluesy-psychedelic sounds taking us to the end. Not bad, but you wish for a little bit more.

Bonus tracks: What Can I Do - The b-side to "Something or Nothing" that was left off the album. Mid-tempo rocker. It's okay, but nothing real special. This should have been substituted for the awful "We Got We".

Love Hate and Fear - This is a non-album demo. Not a bad mid-tempo boogie style riff drives this decent track. You can tell it's a demo track because of the light use of instruments, but it's still intact enough to almost pass as a finished track. Makes me wonder how good it would have been if it was finished.

Stone's Throw - Another non-album demo. More of an acoustic vibe to this one with a surprising amount of "twang" to it. The melody is too repetitive on this one to be very interesting. I can understand why they passed on this one. It seems they are a bit out of their element here.

Dreams (Extended Version) - Over a minute longer than the album version. The extra time is all in the psychedelic ending. It just stretches things out longer there but doesn't really add anything.

I Won't Mind (Live Version) - Great choice for a live bonus track. Too bad the singing is off key through most of it.

So Tired (Live Version) - See previous.

Pretty good, but lacking in progressive style. Great for a hard rocker's album though.

 High and Mighty by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1976
3.16 | 271 ratings

BUY
High and Mighty
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars It's 1976, and Uriah Heep seems to have fallen to some kind of trap. For every step forward they took, the next step was a step backwards trying to find that sweet spot between heavy prog and pop. They never really found it, by the way. But they spent a lot of years trying. Their previous album "Return to Fantasy" was an attempt to try to get back to their former sound with a bit more prog in it and more fantasy-themed lyrics. They even brought in John Wetton to be their bassist, and it seemed to be a great step as their fans were thinking this was going to be a return to form. But, then, they released this album "High & Mighty", with the same line-up, but totally messed up by slipping to out-right pop on some of their songs, and also by stepping away from the fantasy themed lyrics again. It was a big disappointment.

It doesn't exactly start out that way though. Right at the onset, the best two tracks on the album begin it all. It still surprises me that when this album starts, John Wetton's voice is coming through the speakers. The first few times I heard this, I had to do a double take to make sure I put the right album on. "One Way or Another" features his lead vocals, but it is the only time you'll hear him at the forefront on this album. However, this is followed up by another great track "Weep in Silence" that actually sounds like UH in it's glory days again with the original lead singer David Byron still in the line-up, and he definitely brought his soul along with him for this track. Personally, I always thought he was their most talented singer with an amazing range and depth of emotion. So, it all starts showing some promise. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there.

Another thing that is apparent on this album is that the tracks are all under 6 minutes. Gone are the days of the epic tracks. Sure, there are plenty of great progressive albums with tracks less that 6 minutes, but the quality of the songwriting is suddenly apparent in "Misty Eyes" and the music is simple and the soul seems to be missing now. "Midnight" is decent with a more lyrically heavy track, but it's mostly not memorable. At this point, the only other somewhat good track is "Footprints in the Snow" mostly for the guitar break. Everything else is barely tolerable unless you are looking for straightforward pop. The biggest failures here are "Can't Keep a Good Band Down" and the equally tacky "Can't Stop Singing", only memorable because they are so bad. Everything else in underwhelming and even Byron can't seem to find enough emotion to pump these mediocre tracks out.

After the release of this album, Byron was fired by the band because of his alcohol problems and the fact that his performances were getting unpredictable. It wasn't long after this that John Wetton also opted out of the band as he was feeling like he was quite out of place, which he was. Thus begins the revolving door syndrome that the band would suffer for many years to come, and at this point, they would find it difficult to come close to the sounds and style of their earlier days. For many fans, this was the last straw, and many stopped being loyal to the band never to come back to the fold. Yes there are a couple of tracks here that are worth putting on a "best of" playlist, but for the most part, the album is only worth getting because it's the last album with Wetton and Byron. But even then, there isn't much here to bother with.

 Head First by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1983
2.38 | 153 ratings

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Head First
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars In 1983, Uriah Heep had become known as quite the revolving door of ever changing band members. However, they were ready to record another album, especially after a renewed interest in the band after their AOR metal release "Abominog" which saw their turn to power metal that was the popular sound of the 80s. Heavy metal with a lot of keyboard embellishments was the style, and they were determined to fit into that and ride the wave of hair-metal popularity.

So, since "Abominog" was a success for the band, it only made sense to keep the same line-up, which is what they did. The band had already been through many vocalists, and the David Coverfield sound alike Peter Goalby was once again their lead singer, Mick Box (of course) their long time guitarist, John Sinclair as keyboardist, Bob Daisley (from Ozzy Osbourne's band) on bass and Lee Kerslake on drums. It would prove to be a good call to keep the line-up, at least popularity-wise, because "Head First", 1983's album, would continue the popularity for the band.

Unfortunately, the sound of the band only continued to become more radio friendly and free of any progressive traits whatsoever. All of the songs would stay in the 3-4 minute range except for "Rollin' the Rock", a power ballad of sorts, which would break the 5 minute mark. The band at this time was only interested in fitting in with the other metal bands of the time. So, we only end up with a fairly standard sounding 80s album which, if you didn't know who the band was, would only get lost in the piles of hair metal albums being released in the 80s. Nothing special whatsoever.

The opening track "The Other Side of Midnight" is a good opener for this kind of album, but establishes the fact that the album would not turn away from this sound throughout its length. "Stay on Top" is really the only interesting track on the album as it has a nice, driving bass line which is emphasized quite well. But, this isn't enough to convince anyone to get the album. "Lonely Nights" is a cover of a Bryan Adams song, and when I way it doesn't get any better than that for the rest of the album, then you will know what you are getting in to here. Just boring pop-metal music which won't challenge anyone.

The bonus tracks don't really help anything either. You get the non-album b-side to "Stay on Top" called "Playing for Time" (which is all they are doing here), and extended demo track "Searching" and the three live cuts, two of which are tracks from the album and the other one is "Angel" from the equally bad album "Equator", which was released in 1985.

There is nothing on this album that will recall the excellent music from the band's past, in fact, nothing that will even remind you of that at all. This album could have been done by anyone, and you wouldn't know the difference. When it's all said and done, nothing on this album showed any signs of the band getting any worse, but likewise it shows no sign of things getting any better either. Unless you are a fan of the metal that came from the decade that this was released, there is no reason to look for this one at all.

 Wake Up (Set Your Sights) by URIAH HEEP album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1970
3.91 | 3 ratings

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Wake Up (Set Your Sights)
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by Matti
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This single contains two very good -- and certainly not very 'eavy -- songs from URIAH HEEP's debut album Very 'Eavy... Very 'Umble (1970), and actually they both are my favourite tracks on it.

On the album the excellent closing track 'Wake Up (Set Your Sights)' is over six minutes long, while the single edit is almost three minutes shorter. Being probably the proggiest composition on the album, it is somewhat brave and surprising choice for a single, but no complaining, although it goes without saying that the full version is better.

The melancholic anti-war ballad 'Come Away Melinda', in which David Byron impressively interprets the heartbreaking dialogue between a little girl and his father, is according to All Music Guide "an overproduced, melodramatic cover that tries to marry the band's full-throttle musical style to a message song". Why such negativity, I wonder. Overproduced it is not, but admittedly melodramatic, which is definitely part of its charm. I think I once heard the original song, which is written by Fred Hellerman and Gérald Minkoff, but I don't recall who was the performer, most likely some quite forgotten artist anyway. But Heep's version is by far the best known, and in my opinion among their finest songs, despite being a cover. Such a beautiful Mellotron sound in the beginning, and the gradual increase of tension is gorgeous and emotionally effective. Especially this song is Byron's finest moment as a vocalist.

 Firefly by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1977
3.55 | 293 ratings

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Firefly
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars We've come to 1976 and the band Uriah Heep is now 9 albums in. The band had reached a successful pinnacle for a while with a fairly steady line-up, but had floundered a bit over the previous couple of years. Yes they had lost a member here and gained another somewhere else, but there was a core that looked impenetrable. But it wasn't. The first major change in the band's line-up was taking place as David Byron, the band's amazing lead singer with an impressive range, was having alcohol problems and was fired from the band. This was a huge move and it came when the band was losing strength in their popularity from their move to a more radio-friendly sound. However, the label and the band didn't want to accept the fact that their music output was the problem.

In 1976, John Lawton became the new lead singer after the band turned away David Coverdale, Ian Hunter and Gary Holton. He was fairly unknown, but had worked with a few smaller bands. It was admitted that he didn't have the range of Byron, but he could hold his own with the style of music the band was playing. Also, the band had unknowlingly lost their most talented bass player John Wetton who said he wasn't feeling comfortable with the band, so they recruited Trevor Bolder who had played for David Bowie in the past. Bolder would end up staying with the band until his death, so at least their woes with ever changing bass players were ended, but their lead singer problems were only beginning. However, this line-up would at least put out 3 studio albums and 2 live albums before more changes would come.

Uriah Heep came into their 10th album with a new attitude and confidence, that was at least what would be said about it. 'Firefly' looked to giving the band back it's earlier, more stripped down sound, sort of a return to their roots. But, that had been said about their last few albums also. This one would originally consist of 8 tracks, but would be re-issued in an expanded remaster in 2004 which would include other songs that were recorded around the same time, but unused, adding 8 more tracks to the album.

On the original album, Ken Hensley would be soley responsible for writing all of the tracks except for co-writing credit with Jack Williams for 'The Hanging Tree' (the first track), and 'Who Needs Me' which was completely written by Lee Kerslake. Granted, this first track does recall earlier UH music, melodic with a good mix of heavy guitar and keys. It's a good start for the album. This is followed with the more soulful 'Been Away Too Long', which also dips into the earlier sound of the band. Lawton has a soulful enough voice to pull it off, but you can also hear him straining to put power behind the higher notes. The instrumental break even adds in some light prog, and you almost think the band is on their way back. Kerslake's contribution comes next with 'Who Needs Me', a more straightforward rocker, and Lawton's vocals prove their rock god possibilities. 'Wise Man' was an attempt at a single from the album. It is a slow rock ballad drenched in synth keys that are still restrained. It's a predictable track that in theory should have done well for a single, but didn't seem to chart anywhere in the world. Not a bad track that should have sounded good on the radio, but nothing to get excited about either.

The 2nd half of the album begins with 'Do You Know'. Much like the opening track, this one draws on the thick organ sound, which almost brings a more constant drone-like quality, but the music is fast and upbeat again with a lot of spirit. But it is also quite poppy. This side of the album has two 6+ minute tracks, the first of which is 'Rollin' On', the next track. This is a nice, moderate moving track based on a blues-rock style. This track cements the hard rock style of the band and almost sounds like something that you would expect from 'Rainbow', 'Montrose' or any of the other hard rock bands of that style. Other than a repetitive chorus, it's pretty good with some great soulful guitar playing from Box. 'Sympathy' was another attempt at a single, which at least did chart in Germany. It picks the pace up a bit more, but is quite straightforward, and Lawton lets loose a scream during the vocals that doesn't really help and the song really doesn't go anywhere. 'Firefly' ends the album with the 2nd 6 minute track. Hensley and Kerslake help out on the vocals which build a nice harmonic chorus that will also recall the band's glory days. It is only the 2nd track that closely resembles anything prog, and when the song builds intensity later in the track, it really gets much better. It does have a more 'suite-like' structure, but fades much to early. You can tell that the band seemed to be on the right track this time, but unfortunately, it would have trouble following through with this completely in subsequent albums.

The 2004 deluxe edition adds a lot more tracks to the album. It starts with 'Crime of Passion' which was a non-album b-side to the 'Sympathy' and 'Wise Man' singles. It is one of the heavier tracks from the album sessions with a good guitar riff. Three outtakes follow this, starting with 'A Far Better Way' in a demo mix. It has an unfinished sound to it, as expected, but not a bad track that would have been decent with a little more work. It starts weak, but gets better as it continues and has Lawson hitting a lot of high notes at the end as he tries to turn it into an anthem. 'I Always Knew' starts to show the band running out of ideas, and it lacks anything new or interesting, sounding like bad 70's plastic funk, like they were trying to write a song that would be eligible for 100s of prom night theme songs. This was a good one to leave off of the album. Unfortunately, the next one is even worse: 'Dance Dance Dance' is a horrible attempt at disco or something equally as bad. Ugh!

At this point, the bonus tracks goes to alternate versions of songs on the album. There is a demo version of 'Been Away Too Long' which seems to go from being lifeless to over-the-top in split seconds and another demo version of 'Do You Know' which is a little bit better than the previous track. This is followed by a long 9+ minute live version of 'Who Needs Me'. This version incorporates a long guitar solo which is accompanied by a repetitive background riff. It's a good addition that allows the listener insight into the band's concerts. During this time, the band was opening for 'Kiss', and this track shows UH's dominance in the talent aspect over the questionable musical talent and quality of Kiss. The reissue ends with the TV backing track for 'Wise Man' that was used for commercial purposes.

The reissue does add a little value to the overall album, but not enough to boost it above the 3 star rating that the original album generates. Firefly is a good enough album and is a good attempt to return to form for the band, but instead of building on that, UH makes the mistake of continuing to become more commercial friendly. The album is good enough, but has very few progressive moments. However, it isn't obnoxiously commercial either. You can detect some real spirit from the band. The only time this lacks is when the band ventures away from that into a more popular music territory, and unfortunately this will continue for several albums. Firefly is not a complete wash out though, and should be heard if you have a chance. But it is still material that is far away from the stellar material of their glory days, yet it is still better than "Fallen Angel" and other albums that are yet to come.

 Fallen Angel by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1978
2.44 | 213 ratings

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Fallen Angel
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

2 stars When 1978 rolled around for Uriah Heep, it seemed the band was in a pretty good place, even though their music had taken a turn that would bring them further and further away from their progressive sound and closer to the radio-friendly sound. At this point, when 'Fallen Angel' was released, it was to be the 3rd album in a row without any changes in the line-up. Even though John Lawton didn't have the crazy range that original singer David Byron had, he was holding his own, and definitely would have his moments on 'Fallen Angel'. The bad news is that this album was the most commercial of any of them, and it is quite easily seen by the song titles as the songs were about love and relationships, no more fantasy-inspired lyrics.

What you do end up starts out as a pretty good rock record that is a little too heavy to be considered pop, but far from being a heavy metal or progressive record either. If you don't listen to the album for the sake of prog, you might even find enough substance to the variety in the track offerings to consider it enjoyable, especially after a few listens and the individual songs start to stand out a bit. That's just fine from a rock standpoint, but the bad thing is that it doesn't have much 'lasting' power to it. And as the album continues, it gets poppier and more annoying.

Way back in 1978 when I bought this album, I had high hopes for it since I had just recently gotten into 'The Magician's Birthday', and I was hoping for something like that. I was completely disappointed and hardly ever listened to the album after that. Now, when I listen to the album, I find that I still recognize many of the simple rockers here, and there is a bit of nostalgia there, which is fine. The music doesn't sound as dated as I though it would, but it is definitely very commercial. The opener 'Woman of the Night' is probably the best of the album, there is a tasty rocker called 'One More Night' and a schleppy ballad 'Come Back to Me' which at least does show off Lawton's soulful vocals to a great extent.

But, the album is even worse on the 2nd side, you have the very 80's keyboard riffage of 'Whad'ya Say' which has the danger of making one nauseous as images of spinning disco balls pop into your mind. 'Save It' has a powerful blues-riff that starts it off, but soon speeds up and becomes very annoying, sounding like a bad rip-off of Grand Funk Railroad complete with garbage sax. It only gets worse as it goes on with the 'la-la-la's' of 'Love or Nothing'. And the attempt at an acoustic sound on the title track closes it all off quite embarrassingly. The only half-decent track on the 2nd side, 'I'm Alive', sadly gets buried in the rest of the trash making up that side.

The album did poorly despite the label continually pushing the band to be more commercial, barely cracking the top Billboard 200. The continued pressure to put out albums like this would take its toll on the legendary status of the band which would continue for years, even when the band would show up on the next album with a new line up. Sadly, the band and the record company just couldn't take the hint and the band would continue to have many more misses than hits for several years after that even constant line-up changes could help.

 Salisbury by URIAH HEEP album cover Studio Album, 1971
4.19 | 866 ratings

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Salisbury
Uriah Heep Heavy Prog

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

5 stars Uriah Heep was a band in flux right from the beginning, even through their best years. They were stable, for the most part, through the release of their first 3 albums as they only had different drummers through that entire time while being able to retain the rest of their members during that time. So, for the release of their 2nd album 'Salisbury', the line up consisted of David Byron on vocals, Mick Box on guitar, Ken Hensley on keyboards and Paul Newton on bass. Keith Baker (the original drummer for Supertramp) takes the place of both Nigel Olsson (who went on to be Elton John's drummer) and Alex Napier on drums, and even he would leave the band after the release of Salisbury because he didn't want to tour with the band, who was beginning to open for some huge names like Three Dog Night and Steppenwolf.

This album would see the band sort of unsure where it wanted to go, but it also saw them venturing into progressive music, their first real steps into the genre. The band would also rely more on the songwriting talents of Ken Hensley, not just Byron and Box as the first album did. This might have been part of the reason for the move into the progressive rock arena.

The album starts off with 'Birds of Prey' which had been a hit between the UK release of their debut album and this album, although it did appear on the US version of 'Very 'eavy, Very 'umble'. Many consider this song Uriah Heep's most popular. It has the heavy guitar riff combined with Byron's over-the-top high vocals. This was the sound that would go down as UH's trademark sound that they would unfortunately abandon way too early in their career for a more commercial sound. You would almost swear that this is where Queen got its sound. 'The Park' proves Hensley's songwriting ability and the movement to progressive music is quite apparent. Byron's falsetto pretty much makes up the entire vocal performance on this one also. The song is more pensive than the opener helping to give this album a similar level of variety and emotion that makes 'The Magician's Birthday' album so great. Again, the leaning towards progressive music is proven after the 3 minute mark as the instrumental break changes tempo and meter and opts for a more fusion style. The vocals resume coming back in acapella at first with instruments slowly joining in again.

'Time to Live' goes back to the dark and heavy sound with a great guitar solo in the introduction. The vocals are more natural this time staying in a mid-range and not soaring off into the stratosphere as often and the song is more of a straightforward rock. 'Lady in Black' goes for a softer, acoustic sound and a steady mid-tempo beat. The fifth track on the UK version of the album is 'High Priestess' while on the US version it is 'Simon the Bullet Freak'. Both songs are written solely by Hensley. The timing of each song is about the same and why they were different is anyone's guess. The former is a bit heavier and more unhinged where the latter is a mid-tempo, yet heavy, blues-based song. Both of them are pretty decent.

'Salisbury' is the final track on the album and is quite an epic track at 16 minutes. The band has recruited a 27-piece brass band to help create a full, head-on progressive masterpiece. It was quite impressive that the band could pull something like this off on what was only their 2nd album. And the song is definitely impressive as it mixes the orchestra with the rock instruments, and Byron's crazy range is more than adequate for a track of this scope. Back in these early days, UH was proving it was a force to be reckoned with and that the musicians involved were extremely talented. It's too bad they never reached the status of bands like Deep Purple or Chicago, but the fact that they had such a hard time holding on to a regular line-up is probably one of the main reasons and that pressure from the label to be more commercial kept them from reaching that level. But this track should take away any doubt that UH deserved more recognition than they ever got. But, the band was given a lot of freedom for this album, and it ended up being another step in elevating their careers at least in its early years.

The extended version of the album released in 2003 adds in a lot more tracks in that it brings 'Simon the Bullet Freak' back to the album and features an almost 8 minute outtake called 'Here Am I'. The other things on this version are 3 single edits of tracks on the album and 2 alternate versions.

When you listen to this album now, it is hard to believe that a band like this would end up not getting the attention that it deserved. If they were left to their own inventiveness, who know what they could have accomplished. Yes, they would have another masterpiece with 'The Magician's Birthday' and 'Demons and Wizards' but after that, the pursuit of commerciality would bury the band into obscurity for quite a while. That, along with an ever changing line-up would prevent the band from ever making a real comeback, though there were occasional decent albums, nothing would ever sound as great from them as these early progressive gems.

Thanks to Easy Livin for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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