If you were into Hard Rock in the ’70s, then you fell in somewhere with Uriah Heep. Whether that was with the popular track, “Easy Livin'”, or the later issued “Stealin'”, you likely enjoyed listening to them more than once. Uriah Heep is a UK band with their beginnings rooted in 1969, and who eventually owned the stage and airwaves with their progressive-styled music. They first issued Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble back in 1970. Following with Salisbury less than a year later, the band was as creative as could be expected. And creativity was a strong point. Pushed by an ambitious manager, they continued to create at the highest level producing the classics that followed on the heels of the first two. Those were Look At Yourself (1971), Demons and Wizards (1972), and literally six months later The Magician’s Birthday (1972).
With Demons And Wizards, they began to gain greater notice as “Easy Livin'” soared onto Top 40 radio charts worldwide. Of course, the band had already been gaining momentum with previously released singles but those were primarily FM classics (“July Morning” from Look At Yourself, for example). But it was “Easy Livin'” that captured the attention of the widest audience. Uriah Heep would drift back into FM territory with The Magician’s Birthday songs, but return to Top 40 with “Stealin'” from their ‘nine month later’ album, Sweet Freedom (1973). The story goes on further from there.
On March 31, BMG Music reissued Look At Yourself, Demons And Wizards, and The Magician’s Birthday as newly remastered 2CD sets including essential alternate takes of each album that create elaborate and definitive sets for any Uriah Heep collector.
Look At Yourself includes eleven bonus “Alternative” tracks. They include an extended alternate track (“Tears In My Eyes”), a live alternate track (“July Morning”), and a single edit of “Look At Yourself”. The remaining tracks are alternate mixes with two of them outtakes (“Why Fourteen Minutes”, “What’s Within My Heart”). These tracks are previously unreleased.
Demons And Wizards delivers a treasure of fourteen bonus “Alternative tracks. They provide alternate mixes of the entire album as well as four outtake tracks (“Home Again To You”, two versions of “Why”(one a single edit), “Proud Words” (chosen and re-recorded by Hensley for his solo effort, Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf – 1973), and “Green Eye”). These tracks are previously unreleased.
The Magician’s Birthday – my personal favorite – contains fifteen “Alternative” songs. The original album is represented completely by eight alternate mixes, along with outtakes that include “Crystal Ball” (two versions, one titled as “Gary’s Song”)”Silver White Man” (two editions, one instrumental), “Happy Birthday”, a single edit of “Sunrise”, a single edit of “Sweet Lorraine”.
The remastered tracks make the music even more a joy to listen to. And with the bonus racks, it’s nice to hear the ideas that were played around with in the studio. I love the fact that the band were meticulous with their music. Within the studio. they largely knew what they wanted to end up with. There are several lineups of Uriah Heep, all quite good within their sphere. But the high point version of Uriah Heep had David Byron at the front, Gary Thain at bass with his partner in crime, Lee Kerslake on drums, Ken Hensley with his keyboard magic, and the unmatched guitars of Mick Box.
All three of these reissues are tri-fold housing for the two CDs and wallet housed 20-page booklets. Each booklet are richly designed with informative essays, interviews with original members, Ken Hensley and Mick Box. The booklets contain photos, memorabilia (with singles covers), lyrics, and full credits! Complemented by the earlier released ‘best of’, Your Turn to Remember, these three albums join the first two to make your collection of Uriah Heep classics as memorable as they may ever be able to attain to outside of these new reissues.
Now, we wait for the work and announcements for Sweet Freedom, Wonderworld (1974), and perhaps even Uriah Heep Live (1973). You can bet I’ll let you know! These reissues are the ones that worked hardest at making my year complete, no matter what else comes out!