Review Summary: Probably a bit overrated compared to previous outings, but still a great album.
"Return To Fantasy" was Uriah Heep's 8th studio album, and it featured for the first time John Wetton as the band's new bassist. John Wetton had previously played in King Crimson and Roxy Music, to name a few. He would also join Asia in the early 80s, where he would gain more notoriety as a performer. At this point in time, the band was still recovering from Gary Thain's sad death. That, perhaps, led to this album's sometimes darker tone, which is a noticeable change in Heep's traditional sound. While this change is not a constant presence, it pays dividends on a number of songs.
Where this album succeeds in pretty strong standouts, it lacks a bit in consistency. As Ken Hensley himself put it, "it's actually not a bad record, but we rushed into it and it doesn't have any cohesiveness to it". The album's first songs are your typical Heep openers in terms of sound. The title track in particular is an obvious standout, and it became an enduring live tune too in time. "Shady Lady" brings a great change of pace, and "Devil's Daughter" is another great song. But in the midsection of the album, the inconsistency starts to show up. "Beautiful Dream" is a rather average song, and "Prima Donna", if you didn't guess by the name already, isn't much better. It is pretty catchy, but also a bit too repetitive.
However, this is a case of where the good moments just seem to outweigh the bad almost effortlessly, and that contributes to a better listening experience. It just misses that chemistry that was always evident in the band's previous releases. There are, though, incredible songs, such as the title track and "Your Turn To Remember", to name a couple. Recommended if you're a fan of the band, but not your best starting point.