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Uriah Heep

The Magician’s Birthday Party DVD

Review by Greg Olma

In the early 2000s, Uriah Heep were in a unique space.  They were having another resurgence that started with Raging Silence.  In my opinion, they had a little bit of a hiccup with Different World,  but they came back strong with Sea Of Light and have not stopped since.  While their material has gotten a little less prog (kind of like latter day Rush), they still manage to not only put some prog bits into the new material, but they also play a healthy amount of their earlier tunes which did contain their fair share of prog elements.

This live DVD was recorded in London in 2001 and marked a reunion of sorts with former members Ken Hensley and John Lawton (who sadly are no longer with us).  Hensley was a huge part of the band’s past, so it makes total sense that he is featured in the whole back half of the show.  Lawton comes in late in the set for the two songs from his era of the band.  Even though you would expect some newer material (Bernie Shaw era) to be featured, this set seems to be a celebration of the earlier records.  Only two songs from the Shaw-era make it into this DVD, and while I love that era of the band, I equally enjoy their whole catalogue.  While the title of this release would make you think that they were going to play The Magician’s Birthday record in its entirety, we only get a few tracks from that disc with an equal amount from Demons and Wizards.  Highlights from the show would be “July Morning” and “Tales” with the former being one of my favorite Heep tunes.  Oddly, tucked away in the bonus material is "Logical Progression" from Sea Of Light that was performed during the concert but not included in the main feature.  That was a mistake in my opinion, as it is a great tune and would have shown that the newer material can stand alongside the older songs.

The bonus material on this DVD is your usual fare of stuff that you will not watch many times except for the above mentioned extra video track.  We are presented with some footage from a fan convention, a featurette (what is that exactly?) of Uriah Heep in the United States, a photo gallery, some ads for other Uriah Heep releases, and last but not least, more ads for other artists on the Classic Rock Productions roster.  None of that except the bonus video track was really riveting and worth returning to more than once.  Bonus section aside, I really enjoy The Magician’s Birthday Party and for my money, they could have added "Logical Progression" into the main feature and called it a day.  I love all eras of the band but I have to say, this latest line-up still has a lot of energy and passion.


This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

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