"The Magician's Birthday" followed the enormously successful "Demons And Wizards" album.
No doubt it was an overwhelming task to come up with a record that
maintained that immense flow and energy. Uriah Heep was up for the
challenge and responded with another metal-prog classic, and to boot
they pulled it off in the same year.
The very first song, "Sunrise," is another Ken Hensley driving rocker
with Mick Box providing the stinging guitar leads, David Byron the
operatic shrieks, and Hensley the whirling dervish keyboard playing.
"Spider Woman" was always one of my favorites; it's a straight ahead
rocker that has a catchy riff by Box running through the entire song.
"Rain" is a standout track that was typical of the Heep gothic metal
sound complete with a great vocal treatment by Byron. The curtain
falls on the title track "The Magician's Birthday." For over 10 minutes
they show why they were one of the very best prog-rock bands in the
world by changing gears several times without a hitch and offering
the listener every facet of their complex makeup in one song. It's
the kind of dark and mystical song that you never forget, it stays
with you for a long time and when you listen to it again you hear
what you missed the first time around.
What UH did in 1972 is quite incredible. To release one great album
is a major feat, but two in one year? It's something very few bands
have ever done. This was the final stamp of approval on their career;
they had carved out a place in prog-rock history that would cement
their legacy. In 2002, now more than ever, the relevance of what they
did is more evident and valid when you listen to what they were creating
over 30 years ago. It comes as no surprise that people want to hear
all of that material as much today as they did back then. Its great
music, so if you haven't found it yet its time to seek it out.
1. Sunrise (Hensley) - 4:04
2. Spider Woman (Box/Byron/Kerslake/Thain) - 2:25
3. Blind Eye (Hensley) - 3:33
4. Echoes in the Dark (Hensley) - 4:48
5. Rain (Hensley) - 3:59
6. Sweet Lorraine (Box/ Byron/Thain) - 4:13
7. Tales - 4:09 (Hensley)
8. The Magician's Birthday (Box/Byron/Hensley) - 10:23
David Byron - Vocals
Ken Hensley - Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Moog Synthesizer
Mick Box - Guitar
Brian Cole - Pedal Steel
Lee Kerslake - Percussion, Drums
Gary Thain - Bass, Guitar (Bass)