Classic Rock Legends 2001 / Uriah Heep 2015
Not ‘umble anymore, Brit veterans’ most stable line-up embrace the band’s volatile past.
A lot of water – a whole sea of light – has flown under the bridge since the mid-’70s formation of these progressive hard rockers dissolved in history, yet many a fan still finds it difficult to admit the quintet that, in 1986-2007, turned faded glory into fresh fantasy might be URIAH HEEP‘s best ensemble. Sometimes the musicians themselves seem to doubt it, which could be the reason for the group to re-record, when gearing up for the "Acoustically Driven" and "Electrically Driven" shows in 2001, tracks from the band’s golden era and a not-so-distant past – with mixed results.
While there are new angles to rarer cuts, ones that hadn’t been played before the audience for years, if ever, the collective’s core repertoire pales in comparison to its concert realization. The studio takes on “Lady In Black” and “Gypsy” which bookend these two discs – misleadingly titled “Remasters” on the first release – don’t possess the on-stage zip perfectly framed in “Between Two Worlds” and other tracks originally delivered by the line-up represented here. Still, the quasi-orchestral bombast adding artificial patina to “Bird Of Prey” serves the classic well, with the harmonies of “Sunrise” spreading more impressive than back in the day and the unplugged “Wonderworld” harboring genuine magic. Bernie Shaw‘s voice opens different vistas to familiar songs now, a trick so clear in the gospel treatment of “Come Back To Me” or the transcendentally dynamic “July Morning,” albeit the latter is lacking the fierceness of Trevor Bolder‘s live performance.
His bass’ locking in with Lee Kerslake’s drums is what spices up “Love In Silence” which Phil Lanzon’s piano and organ elevate to celestial heights, and the whole ensemble’s interplay hits zenith with “Time Of Revelation” that returned them to the top. Featuring all the favorites – such as the high-sprung “Stealin'” and “Look At Yourself” – the compilation demonstrates HEEP’s ability to always move their creations forward, unshackled by a vinyl prototype, as Mick Box steers heavy, yet sensual, attack on the collective’s catalogue in accordance to the “Only The Young” maxima. That’s why there’s grandeur and immediacy to the chamber folk of “Cross That Line” and the charged sway behind “More Fool You” with its “Magician’s Birthday” undertow.
“Totally Driven” nails the gist of it, then: a celebration of persistency. “You don’t have to pray for glory,” they sing while reaching out for the Grail which they worked hard to get to. Here, the ultimate fantasy becomes real.