In the ’70s band’s released live albums usually to cap off a period in their career or to commemorate a memorable show or performance; live albums [for the most part] came less often. Uriah Heep released 1 classic double-live set in 1973, and though the band continued into the 80s, 90s, and are still recording and performing [prior to Covid 19] there was no further live albums until 1986 when 2 posthumous live sets were released, and a new live album in 1988. But at the start of the new millennium a whole series of live albums started being released, in leu of any new studio albums for most of the decade, as the industry changed. And since 2009, there’s been a whole pile of new live recordings [many of these issued as official live ‘bootlegs’. This is my own ranking of Heep live albums, based on performances, set lists, and sound. I was going to stop at 10, but continued on with those that had some historical significance to longtime fans. Unfortunately there’s no live releases from the ’80s Heep period, closest being the “Live In London ” video release, and a few live tracks on the back of B-sides and “The Best of Part 2” compilation. Here’s hoping we’ll see more more live archived releases.
Live January 1973
One of the greatest live albums of the 70s – when live albums meant a bit more. Live January 1973 caps off Uriah Heep’s period with Mercury Records in North America, and for many fans – capped off their greatest period, with the ‘classic’ line up at it’s peak. I often have a toss up between my 3 favorite Heep live albums, but put this first for the magic of the band pulling off classics like Sunrise, Tears In My Eyes, Circle of Hands, July Morning, and The Magician’s Birthday – All in the same show! Plus the singles – Gypsy, Easy Livin, and Sweet Lorraine! Performance on this show was legendary – David’s vocals, Lee’s drumming [check out Sweet Lorraine!], the solos, and the Rock n Roll Medley – which a few band’s did around this time and band’s like Queen would pick up on and make one of their own in their live sets. The packaging set a standard – with the stapled program and collage of old reviews and press articles, all a brilliant package that legendary photographer Fin Costello would go on to sorta replicate in Kiss ‘Alive’ [Kiss citing Heep’s Live album as an influence for their own].
Live In Europe ’79
Released in 1986, well after this line-up of the band ceased, but originally recorded with the intent of a live album. I loved John Lawton as a singer for Uriah Heep, although I am not crazy about the latter 2 albums he sang on – due to the band’s lighter / more poppier direction. John’s vocals was the best thing about this era. He also wrote a couple of the era’s heaviest and most memorable songs [Free N Easy, I’m Alive..]. When I first got this 2 LP years ago, I immediately liked John’s take on the classics like Easy Livin’ and Stealin’, though it took me longer to warm to the change on the softer songs like The Wizard & July Morning. But what I like most about this album is the sheer power of the band’s sound at the time, and how much of the Lawton era songs came off stronger than the studio versions and fit so well amongst the early classics. The original 2 LP gatefold sleeve lacked a bit in band pics, but looked great; the 2 CD remastered version is outstanding for the extra material and info.
Future Echoes of The Past
What an amazing set of Heep classics and “neo classics” [as Bernie Shaw refers to the newer material]. One thing that I really like about Heep [especially during the Shaw/Lanzon years] is the band’s confidence and enthusiasm to play a wealth of songs from their album. Nothing more annoying than going to see a band you enjoy with a new album, that only plays 1 new song! Heep regularly plays 5+ songs from the latest album they are promoting. – Sonic Origami was the new album at the time of this recording [one of my favorites!], and the band would include 8 [of 13] songs from it. Brilliant performances on classics like Sweet Freedom, Sunrise, Rain, and Bird of Prey [besides the usual], and a killer start with Between Two Worlds, with Bernie hitting that high note at the peak of the song. I remember talking to Dave White [Heep webmaster] before this came out, and that “Uriah Heep : 2000” would be such a cool title for this. Originally came in a 2CD set, numbered with signed booklets. This one needs a new vinyl reissue!
In 2000 the band started doing yearly special shows near the end of the year – which would include a few guests, a special set list, and eventually be issued as a CD/DVD via Classic Rock Productions. Of the series, “Magic Night” – recorded in 2003 remains my favorite. A pretty career wide set of songs, including stuff from almost every Heep era [save for Conquest] -a selection of acoustic tracks, John Lawton on 2 tracks – most notably sharing vocals with Bernie Shaw on Been Away Too Long, which is the highlight of this recording for me, plus a couple of early 80s Peter Goalby era rockers. The CD would feature 16 tracks [excluding July Morning & Lady In Black from the accompanying DVD], and a new 2-LP reissue of this features 15 tracks [also lobbing off Too Scared To Run] – a full reissue of the entire show would be nice. Beautiful cover-art from Rodney Matthews [best known for album covers by Magnum, and whom would do a couple of other Heep covers in this series, as well as one for John Lawton].
This show featured the band playing an acoustic set, with an added string section, and a special guest Ian Anderson [on a couple of tracks]. The band pulled out a number of previously unplayed [and/or not played in years] gems, most notably 2 from the Different World album, and older ballads like Circus, The Easy Road and Why Did You Go, as well as fan favorites The Shadows And The Wind and Blind Eye. Nothing heavy here, a very different Heep feel and atmosphere. Originally a 16 track [the last one being a medley] DVD/CD , and recently issued in full on 2 LPs. Cover-art by Roger Dean.
The Magicians Birthday Party
This year end show was plugged as some sort of ‘reunion’ show as it would be the first time Ken Hensley would play with the band since he left in 1980. It also included guest appearances from John Lawton and from Thijs Van Leer of Focus [on flute]. An excellent 15 song set, which would bring back a few old classics like Paradise/The Spell, Tales, I’ll Keep On Trying, and Free N Easy. Hensley features on most of the latter half of this set, making for memorable performances of Circle Of Hands, and July Morning, but for me it’s John Lawton who provides the highlights of the show [again] with his performances on Sympathy and Free N Easy. Hnesley would rejoin the band on stage in Russia in 2015; hopefully someone will give that an official release some day, and Lawton would also fill in for Bernie Shaw Another Roger Dean cover, originally in a 15 song DVD/CD package, and more recently issued on 2 LPs with just 12 tracks.
Live At Koko
The band’s most recent live release, recorded prior to the release 2014’s “Outsider” and issued on CD/DVD and 3-LPs in 2015. A solid hard-hitting set and performance – featuring tracks from each of the 4 Bernie Shaw era studio albums, plus 2 Outsider tracks [performed before the album’s release]. So well recorded, with No guests, and very few slow-downs in the set. Outstanding version of Traveler In Time, as well as a blazing instrumental titled “Box Wah Box”.
Live In Armenia
Great 2 LP [+ CD/DVD] set from a 2009 show, released in 2011. Sounds great [another production by Mike Paxman, who produced Heep from Wake The Sleeper To Outsider, and mastered a number of the live ‘official bootleg’ releases]. Features 7 cuts from Wake The Sleeper, which all sound awesome here, as well as the usual half dozen Heep classics, and Sympathy. Fantastic cover-art by Ioannis.
Live in Kawasaki
From the ‘official bootleg’ series. I dig this album for the fact that the band performs Demons And Wizards in it’s entirety [in order], with Micky Moody [ex Whitesnake] guesting on slide guitar on a few tracks. I think the band does an outstanding job recreating the band’s classic 1972 album. As well, this includes 4 tracks from Wake The Sleeper, Love In Silence, Rain, Free N Easy, the standards, and a few others — 21 tracks total! Recorded in 2010, issued the following year. The Japanese edition [released in 2013] includes 2 more classics. Another great cover from Ioannis [who did Heep covers from Wake The Sleeper to Into The Wild]. The band also performed Demons & Wizards in full at 2010’s High Voltage Festival in London [UK], with Moody guesting again.
Originally recorded and aired for radio broadcast in Germany. I had a tape of this broadcast and absolutely loved it, in large part for the set list, and the inclusion of my favorite Heep song Circle Of Hands, I thought it was just a fantastic take and performance by the band, and in particular – Bernie Shaw. Devil’s Daughter was a great opening track then, and the set included Words In The Distance – before it was actually released in ’95 on Sea of Light [the band was playing this in ’93 as ‘the new song’, when i saw them on the Total Recall Tour in North America]. Originally a CD release, but in recent years has been issued as a 2 LP set.
Live At Shepperton ’74
Not originally recorded for a live album release. This is the soundtrack to Heep’s 1974 US TV show ‘Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert’, recorded in London at a special performance. Not a full show, but more so to promote the band’s then-upcoming Wonderworld album, so it featured 4 songs from that album, as well as a few previous hits, and the Rock N Roll Medley. The single LP came in a simple white sleeve with the name & title printed on the outside, and no photos. A few other issues came later with different covers. The sound wasn’t great [being recorded and edited for TV], but in 1997 this performance would be remastered, with added outtakes [some retakes of a few songs at the show]. I like this album largely for the performances of the 4 Wonderworld tracks – which sound better than the studio versions to me.
Live In Moscow
In 1987 Heep was restarting with a new lead singer, and a fairly new keyboard player. The band’s status had dropped in various territories following the Equator album, and a few more personnel changes – particularly in North America. But on the other side of the world, Uriah Heep was still a huge deal, and the band would be invited to be the first western rock band to perform in the then Soviet Union, performing 10 nights in Moscow. The band was a huge deal in Russia, treated like huge stars by the people there, and being well documented by the UK rock press. Originally released as a 10 track LP in a beautifully printed red gatefold cover [w/ lyrics, photos, and liner notes by Paul Henderson], with 3 of the 10 tracks being brand new songs. The sound wasn’t very strong, with the equipment in the USSR back then not so great. A later remastering of the album would improve the sound and add 3 more songs from the live tapes.
Worth checking out:
King Biscuit Flower Presents..
Electrically Driven 2001 : The Official Bootleg
Live In The USA 2002
Between Two Worlds : Live in London 2004
Live At Sweden Rock Festival 2009
Official Bootleg Series [2008-2011 series]
*leave me a comment and let me know what you think or what is your favorite Heep live release. and feel free to Subscribe. [thanks]
KJJ / 07/20