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URIAH HEEP Chapter & Verse: The Uriah Heep Story
Sanctuary SMXBX233 (79:11) (79:25) (79:01) (79:59) (78:39) (77:44) (2005)

Despite being one of the worldís most compiled bands, we at last get a worthy box set and full hitsíníhistory to celebrate the bandís 35th anniversary. Often underrated and overlooked, Uriah Heep are a British progressive rock institution that have had more ups and downs than a see-saw, two deaths, and yet they continue to record and tour. And no comeback or farewell tours on the way either.

This set kicks off with a fair amount of pre-history, with tracks by The Gods, Spice and Toe Fat dating back to 1968. More psych and pop than prog rock but worth checking out. By the time we get to Spice we do get the embryonic prog sound, and despite the dodgy recording quality itís easy to see where they were heading.

Disc one closes with some early Uriah Heep, including the classic Gypsy and the heavy (and heavily operatic) Bird Of Prey. Both show the bass and organ driven sound, and excellent guitar work from founder Mick Box and singer David Byron at his best.

Disc two continues with many 70s classics and staples, many being essential Heep., From Lady In Black to the surprise hit Easy Liviní, even the bowel moving Look At Yourself, itís one disc that every rock fan should (and would) listen to, start to finish.

Disc three pretty much rounds up the David Byron years, more classic 70s driving rock, especially Return To Fantasy, the title track to their only top ten album and a welcome reintroduction in recent live sets.

With new vocalist John Lawton, disc four will also prove popular. Despite the generally lighter ballad material, FreeíníEasy is one of the heaviest tracks Uriah Heep recorded. Pure delight. More line-up changes yet excellent rock throughout the 80s, discs four and five.

With 12 previously unreleased rarities, itís all good stuff so far. Disc six features some previously unreleased live material. The first set, from 1979, again features John Lawton. More form 1985 covers the excellent Equator period, and highlights Trevor Bolder as one of the best rock bassists around.

Some more recent live tracks and a 12 minute interview round off a near perfect and well annotated set. But with all but the live disc running suspiciously close to 80 minutes, one does have to be wary of the origin, legitimacy and value of this constant stream of previously unreleased edits that plague the otherwise excellent Uriah Heep catalogue.

****½

Review by Joe Geesin

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly


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JOE GEESIN

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