What does it sound like?:
I think most Heep fans would agree these three albums released in little over twelve months in 1971-72 represent the peak of the band’s career. All three have now been reissued as two cd sets, each containing a remastered version of the original album plus a cd of previously unreleased tracks. Very extensive sleeve notes, and interviews with key personnel accompany each set. Roger Dean’s artwork is faithfully reproduced for the latter two albums, while the first does a great job of recreating the original LP’s mirror effect sleeve.
Originally released in October 1971, Look At Yourself was the band’s strongest album to date – standouts are the title track as well as the timeless July Morning. As I mentioned above, the album’s mirrored sleeve made a big impression on the teenage boy who bought this album over forty years ago, and it’s great to see they’ve taken the trouble to reproduce it! The album still sounds great after all these years too, the songs dominated by the band’s trademark combination of guitar and organ.
Demons and Wizards swiftly followed it in May 1972. This took the band to new heights of creativity and popularity, both in Europe and the US, surpassing the benchmark they’d so recently set with the previous album. All in all, this is probably the strongest and most consistent of these three sets – check out The Wizard and of course the album’s big hit Easy Livin’, which became, and still is, a staple of the band’s live shows.
The final release here, The Magician’s Birthday, appeared in November 1972, and suffers slightly for that as some of it has a slightly rushed feel to it. It does make you wonder how they found the time to write and record it, given the extensive touring the band was undertaking at the time. Nevertheless, it does contain, maybe against the odds, some fine songs such as the title track and another long term live favourite Sweet Lorraine.
The extra cd that accompanies each album contains unreleased songs, alternate takes, early versions and some live material.
What does it all *mean*?
We’ll never again see the days where a major band releases three albums in such a short time period, especially when they’re three as good as these!
Goes well with…
Mates, reminiscing, a few pints!
Might suit people who like…
If you’re a fan of UK hard rock from the seventies, and if you like to hear a distinct prog influence in your music, then you should certainly check out these albums to hear these stalwarts of that scene in their absolute prime.