From time to time we like to reach backward, way into the past. To those days when rock was a hot item and metal slowly appeared on the scene.
Uriah Heep surely is one of these bands that shaped the future of rock and – to an extent – the emergence of metal. They truly were a staple of the ’70s and ’80s and still go strong to this day.
And it’s funny, ain’t it? Today’s progressive bands – rock or metal – generate a ton of interest. Mainly because they’re outside of the proverbial box and exude that odor of new beginnings. Of music styles that aren’t available right now, of emerging ideas.
Well, the same was the case some 40-50 years ago. Only there you had bands like Uriah Heep taking the lead. And they weren’t fearful to experiment. True pioneers of their trade with a load of courage and little regard to modern marketing.
This is one of the reasons why the RMR deck crew already spilt a lot of ink on Heep. And it is now time to have a look at the Top 10 tracks they produced over time.
The list will – for once – go beyond the albums we already reviewed. But boy, we had to dig deep into the entrails of our collection to get to the good stuff.
Fancy going larger and listen to some stellar Uriah Heep whilst you browse this list? Here’s our extended Spotify playlist.
#10 – A Year or A Day – Return to Fantasy (1975)
The amazing progression on this track always gets on my good side. Coming from a renowned album, yet with relatively little acclaim, the band nonetheless managed to produce two pretty strong tracks that stuck to the audience like glue. A Year or A Day seems to be a somewhat eclectic choice at first. But once you get into the thick of things, it will reveal its qualities.
#9 – Lady in Black – Salisbury (1971)
Ken Hensley got a lot of credit for writing this specific track. Admittedly, it was never a great hit in the UK or the US, for the simple reason that it never really released as a single. However, Western Europe got hit like a friggin’ tsunami back in the late ’70s with this song endlessly roaring out of music boxes and loudspeakers. But this is still on my lists of favorites and for sure needs to find a place on this Top 10.
#8 – Bird of Prey – Salisbury (1971)
David Byron‘s falsetto interludes with the first track on Salisbury came as a real shock to many. The track sports truly Progressive Hard Rock. And some sort of an excursion into early Heavy Metal territory, albeit at a weird scale. Just check out the metal scream and the meaty riffing that comes with the song. In addition, the change in style from their first record to this one is truly stunning.
#7 – Easy Livin’ – Demons and Wizards (1972)
The short blurb Easy Livin’ really took the audience by storm back in its time. And it continues to captivate us to this day. Already the line “This is a thing I’ve never known before / it’s called easy livin’ “ sounds like a killer and worms itself into your brain. On top of that, the fast-paced chugging with the somewhat shrilly intrusive keys really take your breath away. For the whole of the 2 minutes and 36 seconds it lasts. Fast and furious. That’s what you would call it today.
#6 – Stealin’ – Sweet Freedom (1973)
“I done the rancher’s daughter, and I surely hurt his pride” – already that line got on my good side. And – of course – some bigots in the purist field decided to ban this song for exactly that precise reason. But this bad boy thing fuels its appeal in the end, make no mistake. Appearing on Uriah Heep‘s 6th record, Stealin’ proved a great hit with potential. As the lore goes, the track depicts the misgivings of an outlaw about his life and conduct. But hey, nothing more than that – and to enjoy the music of course.
#5 – Return to Fantasy – Return to Fantasy (1975)
What good would a Top 10 be without the title track of one of the most renowned albums ever written by Uriah Heep? In truth, however, this song has been maligned or loved by many. There does not seem to be a middle ground. As to this crew, we vote this track in.
#4 – Sympathy – Firefly (1977)
Ken Hensley wrote it, John Lawton sang it, with Byron safely out the door. Sympathy is another staple track of this amazing and very successful band. One that never left yours truly over all these years. It is for sure the riff/solo that got my attention first, with the lyrics a close second.
#3 – Gypsy – Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble (1970)
Bang! First album, first hit right away. And this on an album that had some trouble getting off the ground, with some sort of an identity crisis right there. I really got a kick out of the boy in trouble with a gypsy queen. All of that embedded in the somewhat hazy progressive rock of that time. And an absolute must-have on this Top 10.
#2 – The Wizard – Demons and Wizards (1972)
Aye. The Wizard is an all-time favorite that still often plays on our mighty music machine. But – more importantly – the track still features prominently on the live setlists of Uriah Heep themselves. A true classic, and for sure one that should definitely live on every Heep playlist out there.
#1 – July Morning – Look At Yourself (1971)
Some opine that July Morning is Uriah Heep‘s answer to Deep Purple’s Child In Time. In essence, this is not a false assessment, given that this band somehow always dwelled in the shadow of its ‘big brother’. You’ll even find cover artists, who have taken the Heep / Purple analogy as their reason to exist. However and foremost, this track is probably one of the best ever made by this band and beautifully interpreted by David Byron. On top, you got tidbits like one Manfred Lubowitz aka Manfred Mann (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) playing the Calliope-like riffs on this specific track. Just stellar.
Okay, this brings us to the end of this Top 10 List of Uriah Heep’s best and greatest. If you would like to add to what has been written above, feel free to add a comment below.
Ed’s note: Also check the 2nd edition of the most popular posts!