In the 70s, double live albums were de rigueur for any self-respecting rock band with high aspirations. Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Kiss… they all released them, and they were soon acclaimed as classics. But Uriah Heep Live is almost always overlooked. Maybe that says a lot about the way the band are regarded, because in every sense this record is a masterpiece.
Recorded on The Magician’s Birthday tour, it represents this line-up at their peak. Everything here is beautifully represented, from the choice of tracks to the packaging. Musically, it is breathtaking, with the likes of Sweet Lorraine, Easy Livin’, Gypsy and Magician’s Birthday utterly compelling. David Byron shows why he was one of the great frontmen of the era, while guitarist Mick Box and keyboard player Ken Hensley are virtuosos, yet work well in the fabric of the band.
Even the slightly misguided Rock ‘N Roll Medley can now be seen as an affectionate nod to those 50s artists and songs that first inspired the Heep guys, from Roll Over Beethoven to Hound Dog and Blue Suede Shoes. In 1973, this seemed a little questionable, but the passage of time makes you realise the medley does fit neatly into the swing of things.
Thankfully, this reissue also comes with a reprint of the 10-page colour booklet that was included in the original album. Thereby ensuring you get the full impact of the lavish way in which this was presented.
On all fronts, this is a great live album, now brilliantly restored. A fitting tribute to a fine band.