SMART SOUNDS by Colin Bell reviewing Words In The Distance 1994-1998(3cd Set) Uriah Heep


WORDS IN THE DISTANCE 1994-1998 (3CD SET) Uriah Heep
This remastered beautifully presented clam box release with informative booklet brings together 3 albums from a band that have become a rock institution. The albums in question being ‘Sea Of Light’ ‘Spellbinder’ (live concert) and ‘Sonic Origami’. I’m going to work backwards, bear with me. 1998’s ‘Sonic Origami’ is classic Heep, symphonic with a moving opening track ‘Between Two Worlds’ written by Mick Box as a tribute to original vocalist David Byron and Gary Thain who both sadly passed away in 1985 and 1975 respectively. And unusually for a band that writes their own material there is a cover of Survivors ‘Across the Miles’ which is great, although see the sleeve notes for Micks comments! ‘Golden Palace’ is another standout track, as I say all ‘classic’ Heep. Released in 1996 ‘Spellbinder’ see’s the band playing live in Germany (where they are huge) to an obviously rapt audience. I’m not big on ‘live’ albums in general but this certainly catches a band on blistering form and was recorded for a German radio broadcast primarily. ‘Devils Daughter’ ‘Wizard’ and ‘Gypsy’ are just three highlights and its the next best thing to being there in person it certainly pulls you in to the night. However its 1995’s ‘Sea of Light’ that is the jewel in the crown. When it was released back in ’95’ I was sent a copy that co-incided with me doing a rock radio show and it was love at first listen! I played it to death! From the opening wailing guitar chords of ‘Against The Odds’ thru the insanely catchy ‘Sweet Sugar’ the hauntingly beautiful ‘Mistress Of All Time’ EVERY track is a tour-de-force. Its not just a great Heep album its a GREAT rock album up there with anything Purple, Rainbow, you name it have ever produced. This is first division rock at its finest, the whole album is so cohesive, the running order of the tracks is perfect, the energy and togetherness of the band is awesome. Die hard UH fans on its release said it was ‘a return to form’ that is damning with faint praise in my opinion. S.O.L is the apogee of a band with all the stars aligned. If you are a serious rock fan this album should be in your collection and played regularly and LOUDLY weekly you’ll feel all the better for it! And just to cap it off you can enjoy the evocative unmistakable Roger Dean artwork (remember those Osibisa covers). Well that’s my ‘umble’ opinion…….

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Til next time, stay warm…….Colin

John Williams… I am sure when we used to gig at The Crown the bloke that owned it was Alex, he was with Uriah Heep

Alan Esdaile… Your right John, he was the drummer.

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