Creatively, Uriah Heep have had plenty of ups and downs over the years. Many fans of their early- to mid-'70s output gave up on them in the late '70s, but even though Uriah Heep had more than their share of uneven albums in the '80s and '90s, you can never really count these guys out. Even if they record a weak or forgettable album, the next album might turn out to be pretty good. Celebration, it turns out, is a respectable addition to their sizable catalog. This release finds Uriah Heep's 2009 lineup -- lead singer Bernie Shaw, guitarist Mick Box, bassist Trevor Bolder, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, and drummer Russell Gilbrook -- revisiting a lot of songs from the band's early- to mid-'70s heyday. "Corridors of Madness" and "Only Human" are new songs, and "Between Two Worlds" was originally recorded for 1998's Sonic Origami. But most of the songs that Uriah Heep revisit are from the David Byron era, including "Gypsy" from 1970's Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble, "July Morning" from 1971's Look at Yourself, and "The Wizard" and "Easy Livin'" from 1972's Demons and Wizards. And if Shaw sounds perfectly comfortable belting out gems that the late Byron originally sang lead on, it's no coincidence; Shaw has performed classics like "Gypsy" and "The Wizard" countless times with Uriah Heep on-stage since joining the band in 1986. None of these remakes are radically different from the original versions; Celebration, is, for the most part, a tribute to Uriah Heep's glory years. The results fall short of essential -- novices would be better off starting out with a collection of actual Byron-era recordings -- but even so, Celebration is still an enjoyable listen for die-hard fans of these prog-influenced metal/hard rock survivors.
Celebration: Forty Years of Rock Review
by Alex Henderson