After losing founding vocalist David Byron in 1976, many hard rock fans thought Uriah Heep had reached the end of the line. However, the group bounced back in 1977 with Firefly, an album that pursued a stripped-down sound harking back to the group's early-'70s successes. They also boasted a new singer in John Lawton, a vocalist who had made his fame working with artsy German hard rockers Lucifer's Friend. Although he lacked the multi-octave range of David Byron, Lawton boasted an impressive and emotionally rich hard rock voice that instantly jelled with the Uriah Heep sound. An ideal example of this new synergy was provided by the opening track, "The Hanging Tree," which featured Lawton dramatically delivering a narrative about an outlaw on the run over a spooky musical track that blended echo-drenched synthesizers with some typically gutsy guitar riffs from Mick Box. Other memorable tracks on Firefly include "Who Needs Me," a spirited slice of boogie rock with a rousing singalong chorus, and the title track, a miniature prog epic that deftly blends balladry, hard rock, and acoustic-styled folk into one cohesive outing. Nothing on Firefly hits the epic heights of "Gypsy" or "July Morning," but it contains none of the failed experiments that weighed down High and Mighty and it further benefits from a nice sense of consistency that is built on tight songwriting and inspired performances. In the end, Firefly remains one of the most cohesive albums from Uriah Heep's mid- to late-'70s period and is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of the group's fan base.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco