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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Uriah Heep

Words in the Distance 1994-1998

Review by Gary Hill

This new three CD box set compiles three Uriah Heep albums into one convenient set. It comes in a nice box. It also includes a cool booklet. The three CDs are all strong. This is well worth having, particularly if you don't have any of the albums. It should be noted that I've already reviewed all three of these albums before. So, for the sake of consistency, the way this track by track review will read is: disc number, followed by album title, and the original review for that album. With no further ado, here is that review.
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 1 at
Track by Track Review
Disc: 1

Sea of Light
Even a less than stellar album from Uriah Heep is still pretty good. This one isn’t bad, but it’s definitely uneven. There are some great songs here, some leaning well into progressive rock. There are some rather generic and not so awesome tunes, too. This re-issue, though includes some great bonuses and it’s worth having. I’d buy Sonic Origami first (reissued at the same time) but both are worth getting.
Against The Odds

A bit of drama opens this. Then it fires into a smoking hot riff driven jam. It drops to a keyboard dominated thing for the verse, but the riff returns for the chorus. This is a great Uriah Heep classic sound. It’s not completely a straight path, though. There’s a cool, almost prog meets metal bridge. Then some classic Heep sounding non-lyrical vocals take it from there.

Sweet Sugar
Here we get a number that’s more straight ahead. This is not all that great, but even something pretty generic is pretty cool when done by Uriah Heep.
Time Of Revelation
This hard rocker has more of that Uriah Heep styling to it. The arrangement is pretty complex and yet there are enough hooks and riffs to keep it from falling into the realm of progressive rock. It’s a fast paced tune that holds a real Heep sound. It definitely has some particularly tasty riffs.
Mistress of All Time
The first minute and a half (give or take) is just keyboards and vocals. From there acoustic guitar rises up and the track is sort of a soft rock number. It’s not really a ballad, but it’s acoustic based and rather folk music like. There is definitely a bit a sea shanty sound to it. It does get more of a proggy sound to the arrangement later. This is a good tune, but doesn’t work all that well for me, really.
Universal Wheels
Starting with atmosphere, a cool bass line emerges. The cut builds out gradually from there. It turns out to a cool riff driven jam as it continues. This is a real rocker and a meaty one at that. It’s one of the more successful cuts here, but feels almost heavy metal. It might not be the most “Uriah Heep” sounding piece here, but it’s a cool one. There’s a dramatic, rather proggy section mid-track, though. There is another progressive rock like section late in the piece, too. There is also some particularly meaty guitar soloing on this tune.
Fear Of Falling
On the one hand this is kind of a generic rocker. On the other hand, it’s got some great instrumental moments. There are some driving riffs.
Spirit Of Freedom
Somehow the opening on this makes me think of Mott the Hoople. From there, though it shifts out to a pretty typical Uriah Heep tune. This isn’t all that special, but it’s still pretty good.
Logical Progression
This is more of a power ballad. It’s also one of the stronger cuts here. It has great vocal harmonies and some excellent musical moods. It’s definitely classic Uriah Heep. I like this tune a lot. It’s quite progressive rock in nature, really. There are some great shifts and changes on this thing.
Love In Silence
Here is a cut that’s even more progressive rock oriented. The song proper has plenty of prog, but when it launches into the instrumental movement later, it’s pure progressive rock. This is one of the best cuts on the disc. It’s clearly more prog oriented than most Heep. Considering that Uriah Heep have often flirted with prog, that says a lot.
Words In The Distance
OK, the rocking hook on this isn’t really progressive rock, but a lot of this cut does fit into prog. It’s another strong tune that works well towards redeeming this beast.
Fires Of Hell
Percussion leads out here. Then we get a hard rocker that’s quintessential Uriah Heep. It’s got a powered up ballad approach in a lot of the track, but also some left turns. It’s hard edged, but also proggy. There are some distinctly metallic moments in this number, too.
Dream On
This is a pretty and rather proggy ballad. It’s another cool tune.
Bonus Tracks
She Still Calls His Name
The first bonus track for this edition, this is sort of a straightforward hard rocker. It’s not necessarily a great tune, but the Heep manage to make something special out of something a bit generic.
Sail the Rivers
Here’s another melodic rocker that’s pretty standard Uriah Heep. It does get rather involved and a bit proggy later, though.
Dream On (Single Edit)
As advertised, here we get a shortened version of the ballad that closed the album proper.
Disc: 2

Spellbinder - Live
I know there are those out there who still complain that this isn’t the classic lineup of Heep. Well, Bernie Shaw has been singing for Uriah Heep a lot longer than anyone else ever did. And this is a vital band still releasing new stuff. For my money, that means this is the quintessential lineup of Heep. This reissued live album would be a great starting point for someone looking to check out the new version of the band. I mean, it’s got a lot of classics along with newer songs and all delivered in smoking hot live performance.
Devil's Daughter
This energetic rocker is a great way to start the set off in style. It’s got some killer instrumental interplay later and really works exceptionally well.
Here we get a Uriah Heep classic. This is a great rendition that stands up to any live version I’ve heard before with any lineup of the group.
Bad Bad Man
Another energized rocker, this one purely screams. It still has a definite Uriah Heep vibe at the same time, though.
Rainbow Demon
Mysterious sounding and powerful, this rocker is very much another Uriah Heep classic. This is a killer version, too.
Words in a Distance
Here’s a killer more recent Heep tune. It holds up amidst the rest here.
Here we get another classic Uriah Heep tune. They do a great live rendition here. It sounds a little updated, and there are couple points where it feels a little weak, but overall this is strong. The bass on the tune is well worth mentioning.
Circle of Hands
The Heep classics continue here. The killer renditions also continue. This is another smoking hot Heep tune delivered in style. There is some awesome jamming later in this beast.
Another really powerful old Heep tune, this one gets a smoking hot live treatment. There’s an extended keyboard solo later in the track.
Look at Yourself
And the Heep classics just keep coming. This smoking hot hard rocking jam gets a great live treatment here. There is some awesome jamming on this thing. The bass presence on this is noteworthy.
Lady in Black
I really love the vocal harmonies on this classic Heep live tune. It really is quite a rocking jam. I’d have to say that for my money this surpasses the studio rendition of the track by a long shot.
Easy Livin'
One of Heep’s best known numbers, this one seems a bit harder rocking than the old school versions. Beyond that it still works quite well.
Bonus Tracks

Sail the Rivers (Studio Version)

The first of two bonus tunes, I’m not overly crazy about this one. There are some cool instrumental moments later, but overall this just isn’t all that special. See my review of Sea of Light for more on this tune, as this is a studio rendition.

Across the Miles (Radio Version)
This number feels so much like Journey it’s scary. Another studio take, see my review of Sonic Origami for more on this.
Disc: 3

Sonic Origami
I reviewed this album when it first came out, but this is a reissue. The version I reviewed before had one bonus track that didn’t have a title. Here that song is titled and there is a second bonus track. Beyond that, this is essentially the same release It’s a strong one. Since everything else is still basically the same, I’m going to modify my original review for this and include it here for the sake of consistency.

It seemed that for a time Uriah Heep was running away from what they did best. In the ‘70s, Heep music was characterized by progish arrangements on hard rock numbers with incredible keyboard sounds and vocal arrangements to die for. In later periods, the band seemed to focus more on metal type music, and less on the things that separated them from the pack. Sonic Origami shows that the band had found a great middle ground for the two styles. The Heep lineup on the disc was Bernie Shaw, Mick Box, Lee Kerslake, Trevor Bolder and Phil Lanzon.

Between Two Worlds
This strong rocker deftly combines the Heep sound of old with a newer sound and freshness. It is a potent beginning that lets the listener know that he/she is in for a thrilling ride. With powerful keyboard sounds and vocal harmonies accompanied by a hard rock backdrop, this one also includes a wonderfully textured and haunting mellow segment that explodes out into power at points, in a display of Heep's trademark mastery over dynamic changes in volume level.
I Hear Voices

Feeling a bit like a Perfect Strangers era Deep Purple; this is a strong and rhythmic rocker that really delivers. "Don't talk to me of sanity / When I'm not quite here at all."

Perfect Little Heart
Although it starts as a very accessible pop rock cut, it gets quite quirky and complicated as it goes on.
Heartless Land
This is a solid pop-oriented number.
Only the Young
“Only the Young” is based firmly in ‘70s arena rock modes. "Only the young stay young, I said / Speaks the kid inside my head."
In the Moment
This is a classic Heep cut, with all that that means (great chops, quirky arrangements, strong vocals and a potent organ sound).
A hopeful number, this one starts with an acoustic guitar balladic intro. It is a very pretty song that is nicely arranged and has some awesome piano work. "If we try to find some deep communication / Bring an end to war and start a new creation / From the truth inside, it's waiting, it's waiting." This one is very progish both musically and lyrically.
This solid rock and roll cut is a bit Zeppelinish and includes a few chord changes that call to mind Yes just a bit. It is a high-energy cut that really rocks.
Shelter from The Rain
A nice bluesy rocker, this one is based heavily in Heep tradition.
Everything in Life
A potent rock cut with classic Heep stylings, this one could come off of an older Heep album quite easily. It feels a bit short, but packs a major punch in its brief length.
Across the Miles
This rock ballad feels a lot like Journey. It is a competent cut, and pushed correctly, could prove a hit for the band.
Feels Like
A slow moving, dramatic introduction leads to a powerful rocker with classic Heep stylings. The instrumental break is very progish and quirky with strong jazz tendencies. It evolves into strictly percussive modes to end the piece.
The Golden Plaza
Beginning with some wonderful keyboard work with progish classically oriented stylings, this evolves into a potent moody and emotional rock ballad. It is complex and quite progish as it builds. This is quite probably the strongest cut on the album.
Bonus Tracks

Sweet Pretender

On the earlier version of this, it was an untitled bonus track. Here it gets titled and is the first of two bonuses on the disc. This is a hard rocking number that really knocks them out. It is very classic Heep in texture with wonderful keyboard tones.

Heartless Land (Edited Version)
Here we get an edited version of the previous cut as the second (and final) bonus track.
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