Uriah Heep

High and Mighty

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By 1976, Uriah Heep was on shaky ground. Although they had scored a big success with Return to Fantasy, the group was suffering from personality conflicts (vocalist David Byron left after this album) and division over their musical direction. This tension is visibly apparent on High and Mighty, an album that shows flashes of the group's old firepower, but is ultimately sunk by a combination of unfocused experimentation and uneven songwriting. It starts promisingly with a solid first side: "One Way or Another" is a surging, dramatic hard rocker that features Ken Hensley trading verses with bassist John Wetton, and "Misty Eyes" is an engaging up-tempo tune that trades the group's hard rock thunder for a sound built on some tasty acoustic guitar riffs. It also contains one of the group's finest songs in "Midnight," a meditation on the price of success that neatly balances Mick Box's soaring guitar leads with an array of lush keyboard textures from Ken Hensley. This song is also notable for the dramatic, heart-wrenching vocal it is given by David Byron. However, High and Mighty fails to maintain this standard of quality on its second side. Several of the songs find the band flirting with pop elements in a way that doesn't complement their hard rocking style: "Can't Stop Singing" starts curiously with "Monty Python"-style mock tribal chants before devolving into a silly keyboard pop tune, and the hard rock energy of "Woman of the World" is sunk by the ridiculously bouncy beat and English music hall-style piano it is saddled with. The second side also sports a surprisingly lame and derivative rocker in "Make a Little Love," a throwaway that sounds like an uninspired attempt to duplicate the sound of Bad Company. All in all, High and Mighty is far too uneven to win Uriah Heep any new fans, but it contains enough solid rockers to make it worth a listen for the group's devoted ones.

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