Uriah Heep

The Best of Uriah Heep [Mercury]

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Ah, perhaps there's truth in advertising after all, since The Best of Uriah Heep really is a "best of." Nothing less than a musical Juggernaut, this compilation delivers wave after wave of heavy molten rock that will either forge your fealty or send you fleeing. At their most menacing ("Gypsy," "Bird of Prey"), Heep rides relentlessly alongside the horsemen of the apocalypse, Black Sabbath and Van Der Graaf Generator. What the band lacks in artful studio execution they make up for in sheer force, from Ken Hensley's towering organ to Mick Box's distortion-drenched guitar. Perhaps because of frequent personnel changes (chronicled in a multicolored chart on the disc sleeve that would give Ross Perot a headache), Uriah Heep never developed the consistent sound of other heavy metal acts. Instead, it's tempting to compare them to other bands in search of a description: e.g., a heavy metal version of Barclay James Harvest ("Lady in Black"), E.L.P. by way of Nektar ("July Morning"). While The Best of Uriah Heep paints the portrait of a single eye unblinking at the coming maelstrom, the truth is that by this time (1976), the band was already partially indoors and just as likely to be writing comfortable rock songs. In contrast to a Peter Hammill, it's unlikely that anyone in Uriah Heep was driven by their own demons as much as playing to the tastes of the time. And The Best of Uriah Heep is certainly a product of its time, albeit a very good product. In fact, if you're interested in the band's "classic" incarnation(s), this is the place to start. Note that each country seems to have its own "best of..." album, including a U.K. version with a different cover and a slightly different track selection.

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