Monday, October 9, 2017

Uriah Heep - 1972 [1990] "Demons And Wizards"

Demons and Wizards is the fourth album by British rock band Uriah Heep, released in 1972 by Bronze Records in the UK and Mercury Records in the US. The album helped the band become famous and has sold 3 million copies worldwide.

The original vinyl release was a gatefold sleeve, the front of which was designed by Roger Dean. The inner sleeve had pictures of the band and notes by Ken Hensley, while the liner featured printed lyrics.

The songs "The Wizard" and "Easy Livin'" were released as singles in the UK and North America as well as many other markets. "Easy Livin'" entered the US Top 40 reaching No. 39, making it Heep's first and only American hit. "Easy Livin'" was also a mega-hit in the Netherlands and Germany, countries which were becoming strong markets for the band. It reached a disappointing No. 75 in Australia.[1]

New Zealander Gary Thain, at the time a member of Keef Hartley Band, joined Uriah Heep as a permanent member halfway through another American tour. "Gary just had a style about him, it was incredible because every bass player in the world that I've ever known has always loved his style, with those melodic bass lines," Box commented later. Another addition, of drummer Lee Kerslake (a former bandmate of Hensley's in the Gods and Toe Fat), solidified the rhythm section. Thus the "classic" Uriah Heep lineup was formed and, according to biographer K. Blows, "everything just clicked into place".

The result of Heep's newfound chemistry was the Demons and Wizards album, which in June 1972, reached No. 20 in the UK and No. 23 in the US. In Finland, the album hit No. 1 in May and remained on top of the charts for 14 weeks. While the album title and Dean's cover art both suggested medieval fantasy, Hensley's notes declared the album to be "just a collection of our songs that we had a good time recording".

Hensley recalled: "The band was really focused at that time. We all wanted the same thing, were all willing to make the same sacrifices to achieve it and we were all very committed. It was the first album to feature that lineup and there was a magic in that combination of people that created so much energy and enthusiasm".

Two singles were released from the album: "The Wizard" and "Easy Livin'". The latter, a defiant rocker, according to Blows, was "tailor-made for Byron's extrovert showmanship" and peaked at No. 39 in the Billboard Hot 100.

This is the album that solidified Uriah Heep's reputation as a master of gothic-inflected heavy metal. From short, sharp rock songs to lengthy, musically dense epics, Demons and Wizards finds Uriah Heep covering all the bases with style and power. The album's approach is set with its lead-off track, "The Wizard": it starts as a simple acoustic tune but soon builds into a stately rocker that surges forth on a Wall of Sound built from thick guitar riffs, churchy organ, and operatic vocal harmonies. Other highlights include "Traveller in Time," a fantasy-themed rocker built on thick wah-wah guitar riffs, and "Circle of Hands," a stately power ballad with a gospel-meets-heavy metal feel to it. Demons and Wizards also produced a notable radio hit for the band in "Easy Livin'," a punchy little rocker whose raging blend of fuzz guitar and swirling organ made it feel like a '70s update of classic '60s garage rockers like the Electric Prunes or Paul Revere & the Raiders. However, the top highlight of the album is the closing medley of "Paradise" and "The Spell": the first part of the medley starts in an acoustic folk mode and slowly adds layers of organ and electric guitar until it becomes a forceful, slow-tempo rocker, while the second half is a punchy, organ-led rocker that includes an instrumental midsection where choral-style harmonies fortify a killer, Pink Floyd-style guitar solo from Ken Hensley. All in all, Demons and Wizards works both as a showcase for Uriah Heep's instrumental firepower and an excellent display of their songwriting skills in a variety of hard rock styles. As a result, it is considered by many fans to be their finest hour and is definitely worth a spin for anyone with an interest in 1970s heavy metal.

Uriah Heep's Demons And Wizard's is simply the greatest Heavy Progressive Rock album ever made. At the time of it's release this was a seamless stunning amalgam of Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock. Demons And Wizards can be considered the Grandfather of Progressive Metal and Power Metal. David Byron is at his peak as a Vocalist here and his smooth and powerful voice is a treat on every song. Ken Hensley's amazing organ playing overpowers everything in it's path and Mick Box's Guitar leads are just outstanding. And the songwriting is amazing. This album was a forerunner to, and inspiration for so many things. It was one of the first albums themed around Magic, Sorcery, and ancient British legends (Something many many other bands would do almost to death over the nest two decades) And if all that wasn't enough it is chock full of just great songs. Their isn't anything approaching a weak track here.

Tracks Listing:

1. The Wizard (2:59)
2. Traveller In Time (3:26)
3. Easy Livin' (2:36)
4. Poet's Justice (4:14)
5. Circle Of Hands (6:34)
6. Rainbow demon (4:30)
7. All My Life (2:46)
8. Paradise (5:15)
9. The Spell (7:26)

Personnel:

- David Byron / vocals
- Mick Box / guitars
- Ken Hensley / keyboards, guitars, percussion, vocals (8,9)
- Gary Thain / bass
- Mark Clarke / bass (1,10,11), vocals (1)
- Lee Kerslake / drums, percussion

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