The Uriah Heep studio albums during the David Byron era featured numerous fantastic – and in many cases often overlooked tracks. So I picked 10 favorites that were neither major singles [worldwide] or included on the Live ’73 album, and in many cases not regular returnees to the live set [if they were ever even in it] since their release.
Drop some feedback with a few of your own overlooked Byron era favorites — which won’t include that half dozen hits and set-list staples for the past several decades.
Ill Keep On Trying
From Uriah Heep’s debut album in 1970. A very underrated album in the band’s catalogue that boasted the classic “Gypsy” and the ballad “Come Away Melinda”. But aside from ‘Melinda’ and a few others (well, North American version included “Bird Of Prey” instead of “Lucy Blues”, so I’ll take our version), this is a very heavy album. This track has all of what would become the band’s trademark sounds – the heavy organ and guitar, the big harmony vocals, a few changes in pace…love Alex Napier’s drumming on this track [and others], the over 1 minute intro, loads of energy on this song, sounds like it must’ve been a blast hearing recording this one. Probably my favorite track on the album.
Footprints In The Snow
From the last album featuring David Byron on vocals. Admittedly I have a soft spot for High & Mighty, despite it being less ‘eavy, a commercial flop, and not well liked by many of my fellow Heep die-hard fans. But, I thought this track really stands out on this record [especially on side 2], with it’s acoustic intro and verses, and the heavier chorus with the high backing vocal. David sounds great on this. Great guitar sound tone played out for the last minute of the track.
Sweet Freedom had a number of tracks I could’ve chose for here, but this is the closing cut, love the lyrics – and the good vs evil situation David is singing about being in. A fantastic heavy production with the near minute intro, including organ, piano, heavy guitar, the Heep choir…. before David’s voice comes in to deliver a dramatic tale as only David could. One of the band’s greatest performances IMO. Clocking in at just over 7 minutes. It was the last of the Byron era epics.
A Year Or A Day
The last track on Return To Fantasy. Great worldly lyrics from Ken Hensley, and a song very relevant today. Amazing song on an album side that isn’t one of the band’s best from that era. Too bad this song was not stretched out longer. But a great mix of acoustics and organ, and David’s vocal delivery is superb, again breathing real life in to Ken’s words.
One of my favorites on Demons And Wizards, credited to Box / Kerlsake & Hensley. With the Heep choir intro and Lee Kerslake’s powerful drumming, a very underrated track on the band’s biggest album, overshadowed by the hits “Easy Livin” and “The Wizard”. The song drops from heavy guitar to a softer verse with harmonies, then picks back up. Love Mick’s guitar work, and with the organ exchange during the instrumental section.
A classic acoustic number from Sweet Freedom, credited to Box / Kerslake, and Gary Thain. A great summertime feel, about the band’s take on LA. Strange that this track never got more attention. Should’ve made a great worldwide single.
Echoes In The Dark
From The Magician’s Birthday, penned by Ken Hensley, and featuring Ken on slide guitar. A dark and haunting track full of guitar, piano, synths, the Heep’s choir, and Lee Kerslake’s drums driving it all.
I Wanna Be Free
One of those unique Heep tracks from Look At Yourself, a bit of light and and lots of weight. Issued as a promo single in North America, a shame as this would’ve made a fine global single. The track gets better as is picks up pace following guitar and harmony break, and last verse, as it speeds up frantically with slide guitar and high pitched vocals. Great drums by Iain Clarke on this track [and album!]
Yes, the title track from Heep’s 1974 album. Amazing track and an unusual type of album opener (ballad) that was never used as a single nor featured on any live releases from the Byron era. “Wonderworld”, written by Hensley, being about dreams. An unusual sounding album, but plenty of great songs on it.
This is one of those odd early tracks featuring Ken Hensley on vocals. It was issued as the 2nd single from Salisbury, in Germany and the US – interesting as “Lady In Black” [previous single] was also sang by Ken. Anyway, love that light guitar intro before the band kicks in with that ‘gallop’ . I often wonder if this was a favorite track of Steve Harris. A great rock track, with those unique harmonies that kinda bounce around and echo. Fine drumming by Keith Baker, and some cool fast dueling guitar as the track speeds up to the end. I wonder if this track ever got played live.