Uriah Heep

The Best of Uriah Heep, Pt. 2

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This is a companion compilation to The Best of...Part 1, which was originally released in 1975 as simply The Best Of... and reissued in an expanded, remastered version in the mid-'90s. The Best of...Part 2 chronicles the band's post-Byronic efforts, sampling everything from Firefly to Different World, with a pair of unreleased live tracks from 1980 thrown in for good measure. (Equator is skipped over because of a licensing issue.) It's no secret that Uriah Heep's albums after David Byron's departure were uneven, a problem exacerbated by frequent lineup changes (including four vocalists: John Lawton, John Sloman, Peter Goalby, and Bernie Shaw). The Best of...Part 2 minimizes that problem by drawing the best tracks from those albums, some of which (Firefly, Abominog) are enjoyable in their entirety, and others (Raging Silence, Fallen Angel) which have more valleys than peaks. The Lawton era balances between ballads ("Free Me," "Come Back to Me") and scorching rockers ("Free 'n' Easy"), plus three great cuts from Firefly, hiding the precipitous decline in product that transpired from Firefly to Fallen Angel (the lone track from Live in Europe 1979 is beyond salvaging, however). The much-maligned Conquest gets two representatives, while Ken Hensley's swan song appears in a pair of live tracks from 1980, including a powerful version of "Suicidal Man." Like Firefly before it, Abominog found Uriah Heep recharged and ready to rock, evidenced on "That's the Way That It Is" and "Think It Over" (a live version of "Too Scared to Run" drawn from Live in Moscow confirms that). Though the next few albums (Head First, Raging Silence, Different World) found the band's recaptured energy waning, each album had its small share of guitar-led nuclear assaults, notably "The Other Side of Midnight" and a cover of Argent's "Hold Your Head Up." The remastered sound makes a difference in some cases (the tracks from Fallen Angel, in particular, benefit from a newfound clarity), while the single edit versions offered here really don't. The Best of...Part 2 probably won't help listeners sort through Heep's later catalog -- here it all sounds good, and that's just not the case in reality -- but if you want to indulge the fantasy that the band remained a tight-fisted rock juggernaut in the late '70s and '80s, this is the disc to help you do it.

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