A bonafide classic from 1972, it is perhaps for many Uriah Heep fans the most definitive iconic album of their entire back-catalogue.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Uriah Heep
ALBUM: Demons And Wizards
SERIAL: BRNA 193
CD REISSUE: 1985, Bronze, 260 137 * 1996, Essential (UK), ESMCD 31
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:England
LINEUP: David Byron – vocals * Mick Box – guitars * Ken Hensley – keyboards, organ, guitars, percussion * Gary Thain – bass * Lee Kerslake – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 The Wizard * 02 Traveller In Time * 03 Easy Livin’ * 04 Poets Justice * 05 Circle Of Hands * 06 Rainbow Demon * 07 All My Life * 08 Paradise/The Spell
WEBLINKS: Site Link
1972 was a year of change and transition for UK band Uriah Heep. Derided in the UK press, and caught between the prevailing styles of 60’s British blues (Cream, Jeff Beck and The Yardbirds), progressive Art rock a la Procol Harum and Jethro Tull, plus the ‘new wind’ on the scene fuelled by the influence of the hard rockin’ Jimi Hendrix and Deep Purple.
Juggling all these musical styles together, Uriah Heep gradually began to develop their own identity, based around the rock solid organ/keyboard play of Ken Hensley, and the strong but underrated vocals of the late David Byron. The seeds were sown on the very good ‘Look At Yourself’ album the year before. With ‘Demons And Wizards’ however, the album was recorded during March and April 1972, and released a ‘quickfire’ one month later in May.
Gosh that wouldn’t happen in todays industry now would it? Though the album contained only 8 tracks, they still remain etched in my brain many years on. That surely must be a sign of hard rock longevity, included alongside many other classic albums from that era. You can’t say the same about today’s disposable era unfortunately.
The acoustic opening ‘The Wizard’ stills sounds as fresh as any of todays acoustic based ballads, and then some. ‘Traveller In Time’ is a rousing track featuring Mick Box’s trademark wah-wah sound, followed by the timeless hyper-rock of ‘Easy Livin’ – a Uriah Heep standard for sure.
My favourite would have to be the majestic ‘Poets Justice’, where Hensley literally takes over precedings through the middle solo section with some inspired organ playing! ‘Circle Of Hands’ is 6 minutes of meandering fantasy/space rock which admittedly does tend to drift a bit.
Side two begins with the forerunner to all things doom metal related. I’m sure acts like King Diamond et al all did their ‘Introduction to Doom Metal 101’ listening to a track like ‘Rainbow Demon’. The sombre vocals and insistent organ layers opening the way for an altogether fantastic track.
Next up is ‘All My Life’, a straight-ahead hard rock track with lots of operatic vocals happening throughout. The David Byron vocal performance toward the end is one Glenn Hughes or Ray Gillen will have listened to and copied ad nauseum.
The finale, the dual pairing of ‘Paradise-The Spell’ is an essential listen for those into the progressive strains of rock. Like Pink Floyd in years to come, the guitar solos on ‘The Spell’ in particular, is literally ‘spellbinding’, for 12 minutes, not one second is wasted.
Considering this opus harks back to 1972, one can say that melodic rock was etched on people’s brains (particularly the 5 musicians on display here) long before the supposed glory days era kicked in. Combine this with another worthwhile album ‘Magicians Birthday’, and you will have struck a rich vein of Uriah Heep discography.