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Uriah Heep - Demons And Wizards CD (album) cover

DEMONS AND WIZARDS

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

4.07 | 735 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars Full of magic

I must admit to finding it somewhat difficult to write dispassionately about this album, since for the last 30+ years it has been my all time favourite. I do remember however when I first heard it, the one minor criticism I had at the time was that, when compared to the previous "Look at yourself", there were too few instrumental breaks. That misgiving soon vanished however, and ever since it has taken pride of place in my collection.

This was the first album recorded by the "classic" line up, with Lee Kerslake (drums), and Gary Thain (bass), completing the quintet. Ken Hensley was now fully installed as the main composer with the band, and had just entered his "fantasy" phase. These were the final pieces which would see Uriah Heep creating it's finest works.

The album is supremely melodic, and much less "'eavy" than previous albums. The opening track, "The wizard" is an acoustic number, which finds David Byron in his best vocal form. "Easy Livin'" is wonderful three minute burst of driving rock, with everything turned up to 11. The Hammond organ and lead guitar combine with a great bass line from Thain, to provide the basis for this brief masterpiece. "Circle of hands" is similar in structure to "July Morning" from the previous album, with a repeating instrumental conclusion.

The closing two part track "Paradise/The spell", is awesome. It is two separate pieces, which happen to combine well together. "Paradise" is a soft acoustic number, on which Byron and Hensley alternate the vocals on the repeating choruses. "The spell" was in many ways a predecessor for Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody". It has a complex structure with a multitude of vocal styles, and time changes a plenty. The centre point is a choral backed slide guitar solo by Hensley, which on its own would have made an excellent single in the "Sylvia" (Focus) vein. It sends shivers up my spine every time I hear it.

Had the other tracks appeared on any other album, I would have been listing them individually with glowing praise. I'm sure you get the message though, this album is the pinnacle, a work of pure genius.

In another moment of inspiration, Roger Dean was asked to design the excellent cover, which looks so much better on the gatefold sleeve of an LP.

The recently released deluxe remaster has 5 bonus tracks including an extended version of "Why". An edited version of this track was released as a single B side, but other than that, this absolute gem was for many years generally unavailable.

Easy Livin | 5/5 |

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