RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Uriah Heep – Remasters (Look at Yourself/Demons and Wizards/The Magician’s Birthday)

Look at Yourself:             B
Demons and Wizards       A
Magician’s Birthday         B+

BMG is continuing its reissue campaign for Uriah Heep.  In fact, BMG has released the trifecta fantasy for Heep fanatics, possibly causing the bands’ biggest fans to have musical wet dreams.  Not only have the boys and girls at BMG packaged three amazing albums by the band, they have made them look and sound amazing as well.  As if that were not enough to make a Heep-Nut stop in his or her tracks, each offering comes with a bonus disc of alternative mixes.  There are even songs not on the original albums!  Okay… I will take a moment to pause so the Heep faithful can gain their composure. Breathe into that bag... Slowly… there ya go!  Yes, this stuff is that good and these releases are that exciting!

While Uriah Heep never had the success in the USA similar to their contemporaries Black Sabbath or Deep Purple, they did well enough.  Globally, they did just as good.  When these albums were released in the early 1970s, they were a band on fire that was pumping out hard rocking, keyboard/guitar driven rock that was unique and powerful.  To look back and realize all three of these titles were released between 1971 and 1972 boggles the mind.  Now, 46 years later they are being celebrated for their massive appeal and influence and one can’t think of a better way of paying homage to Uriah Heep than that!  The fact that there is still a demand for their music, and a desire to re-release these titles states the obvious: Uriah Heep is an important band from an important era of hard rock. 

Andy Pearce remastered the discs including the alternative mixes.  The big nerds will dissect these remixes for years to come.  This writer is quite happy with the original material, so either way, everyone wins.  And… the new mixes are cool.  Several have guitarist Mick Box turned up a little bit, which is never a bad thing!  Each release comes with extensive liner notes from rock scribe Joel McIver which tell the story of how Uriah Heep once ruled the international rock scene.  There are also great quotes from the two most famous Heepsters of all, Mick Box and Ken Hensley. 

Look at Yourself comes with the mirror cover restored so that when you pick up the CD you are indeed looking right at yourself.  This was the start of the amazing three album run the band pumped out.  While not as complete as the other albums, this one features the title track, which solidifies the Heep sound that started on the first two albums with tunes like “Bird of Prey” and “Gypsy.”  Heep recorded perhaps their most epic tune ever on Look  at Yourself.  “July Morning” is simply magical at every turn and the success of this song spurred on more success the following year, 1972. 

Demons and Wizards was released in March of 1972 and is the overall best album the band ever created.  “The Wizard” is an acoustical masterpiece while “Circle of Hands” falls just short of the magic spell that was “July Morning.”  “Rainbow Demon,” “Traveler in Time” and “All My Life” demonstrate this band rocking hard as hell while “Poet’s Justice” highlights the progressive side of the band.  The most Prog moment on the album is the giant track “Paradise/The Spell” which is one of keyboardist Ken Hensley’s most dramatic efforts.  “Easy Livin’” became a solid radio hit that took Heep to the world’s stage where they remain decades later.  The remixed tracks are, once again, very cool.  They include many songs not on the album that will thrill Heep’s biggest fans to no end. 

By November of 1972 Heep put out their second classic album of the year in The Magician’s Birthday.  Both Demons and this album featured amazing artwork by Roger Dean.  The red hot cover showed the Magician in his spellbinding glory.  The title track is amazing and may be the best song in history to feature a kazoo solo!  “Sweet Lorraine” sounds great both remastered and in the single version on the bonus disc.  “Spider Woman” is a rocker but it pales in comparison to the incredible “Sunrise.”  This is one of the most powerful songs the band ever recorded.  The pure strength and emotion of this song will keep one coming back to it for a lifetime.  “Rain” and “Tears” are both emotional but excellent cuts.  

Once again, more alternative mixes and tunes you have never heard are included.  Instead of describing the remixes and bonus tunes, I will do the right thing and just give you a push in the right direction.  Pick these CDs up and listen to them for yourself. 

Look at Yourself Tracklisting:

01. Look At Yourself
02. I Wanna Be Free
03. July Morning
04. Tears in My Eyes
05. Shadows of Grief
06. What Should Be Done
07. Love Machine

01. I Wanna Be Free (Alternative Mix)
02. Tears in My Eyes (Alternative Mix)
03. What Should Be Done (Alternative Mix)
04. Shadows of Grief (Alternative Mix)
05. Look At Yourself (Alternative Mix)
06. July Morning (Alternative Mix)
07. Why Fourteen Minutes (Alternative Mix)
08. Love Machine (Alternative Mix)
09. What’s Within My Heart (Alternative Mix)
10. July Morning (Alternative Mix)
11. Look At Yourself (Alternative Mix)

Demons and Wizards Tracklisting:
01. The Wizard
02. Traveller In Time
03. Easy Livin’
04. Poet’s Justice
05. Circle Of Hands
06. Rainbow Demon
07. All My Life
08. Paradise
09. The Spell

1. Easy Livin’ (Alternative Mix)
2. Rainbow Demon (Alternative Mix)
3. Traveller in Time (Alternative Mix)
4. Paradise (Alternative Mix)
5. The Spell (Alternative Mix)
6. All My Life (Alternative Mix)
7. Home Again To You (Alternative Mix)
8. Why (Alternative Mix)
9. The Wizard (Alternative Mix)
10. Poet’s Justice (Alternative Mix)
11. Circle of Hands (Alternative Mix)
12. Proud Words (Alternative Mix)
13. Green Eye (Alternative Mix)
14. Why (Alternative Mix)

The Magician’s Birthday Tracklisting
01. Sunrise
02. Spider Woman
03. Blind Eye
04. Echoes In The Dark
05. Rain
06. Sweet Lorraine
07. Tales
08. The Magician’s Birthday

01. Echoes In The Dark (Alternative Mix)
02. Sweet Lorraine (Alternative Mix)
03. Blind Eye (Alternative Mix)
04. Tales (Alternative Mix)
05. Silver White Man (Alternative Mix)
06. Sunrise (Alternative Mix)
07. Crystal Ball (Alternative Mix)
08. Spider Woman (Alternative Mix)
09. The Magician’s Birthday (Alternative Mix)
10. Rain (Alternative Mix)
11. Silver White Man (inst) (Alternative Mix)
12. Happy Birthday (Alternative Mix)
13. Sunrise (Alt Single) (Alternative Mix)
14. Sweet Lorraine (Alt Single) (Alternative Mix)
15. Gary’s Song (Alt Version) (Alternative Mix)

By Jeb “Wizard” Wright