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Uriah Heep - The Classic Rock Years DVD review

Live Heep feast.

Uriah Heep The Classic Rock Years DVD cover

For the purposes of this three-CD/three-DVD slimline box, The Classic Rock Years refers to the beginning of the 21st century when Uriah Heep began to reap the benefits of their 15-year unchanged line-up, which was by far the longest in their history.

Pick of the box is The Magician’s Birthday Party (on CD and a DVD which has more tracks but, oddly, a different running order) from 2001 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire when an (often bitterly) estranged Ken Hensley rejoined the band. It’s a measure of Heep’s self confidence that they take Hensley’s guest appearance in their stride. Stalwart Heep fans are ecstatic, but if you look closely you can see why this was a one-off reunion. However, Heep are feeling so magnanimous they even bring back former vocalist John Lawton for a couple of songs.

A second DVD cleverly segues two consecutive shows in Trenton, New Jersey (one outdoors, one indoors, although the sound seems to come from the latter), and adds their 2004 Between Two Worlds show (also on CD) while the third CD features a documentary narrated by Tommy Vance and a show in Bulgarian from 1999. Throughout every show it’s difficult to tell who’s having more fun, the band or the audience.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.