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Uriah Heep - Return To Fantasy CD (album) cover


Uriah Heep


Heavy Prog

3.14 | 288 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
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.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |


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