Uriah Heep
The Magician's Birthday


4.0
excellent

Review

by Daniel Dias CONTRIBUTOR (37 Reviews)
July 21st, 2015 | 14 replies


Release Date: 1972 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Another excellent addition to Uriah Heep's collection. Magician's Birthday, while not as strong as its predecessor, still offers plenty of highlights and is an excellent release on its own.

For Uriah Heep, 1972's Demons And Wizards was a massive statement. After multiple lineup changes and an uncertainty about the future after a departure of bassist and founding member Paul Newton, as well as drummer Ian Clarke, Uriah Heep stuck together, recruited Gary Thain and Lee Kerslake (then completing the "classic" lineup), and managed to write Uriah's definitive album. Demons And Wizards was a result of the band's constant development in terms of songwriting and musicianship found in previous albums, ultimately becoming one of the band's most diverse and inspired releases ever. An amazing increase in album sales and a newfound critical acclaim proved that, now more than ever, Uriah Heep was a band to pay attention to.

The tough task now was to follow it up. The chemistry quickly found between the newly established lineup, definitely Heep's most effective, may have facilitated the songwriting process, as D&W's successor Magician's Birthday was released merely 6 months after. All in all, Magician's Birthday follows the footsteps of its predecessor, only slightly more heavy and, occasionally, slightly more experimental, especially in the title track. Despite the relatively small gap between the two albums, it doesn't feel rushed at all. Though probably not as cohesive as it could be, it still offers plenty of highlights, earning its place among Heep's finest albums, remaining an excellent listen for any fan.

Starting off on a high note, Sunrise kicks off the album excellently. An emotional ballad alternating between quiet verses, highlighted by Ken Hensley's melodic organ playing and Byron's powerful vocal delivery, and a raging chorus powered by Mick Box's energetic guitar playing, Sunrise is a highlight in Heep's catalog and one of the band's finest progressive rock ballads. From there on, the album goes back and forth between agressive, and somewhat dark at times, hard rock tunes and soulful acoustic ballads, both of which showcasing some of the band's best abilities. Save for the ocassional filler, the main offender here being Tales, there are a couple of standout tracks to be found.

Spider Woman and Sweet Lorraine are examples of short and catchy rockers, executed perfectly by the band. The piano-driven ballad Rain proves to be a pleasant surprise as well. But the album's most admirable moment is probably the closer, title track. At 10 minutes long, it is definitely the most progressive and experimental moment of the album. Not all passages of the song are memorable, as it all feels a bit glued together sometimes, but a very strong riff, a catchy chorus and a spectacular solo, a true faceoff between Mick Box's roaring guitar and Lee Kerslake's loud drums, make the title track an admirable creative moment of the band and an interesting closer.

Overall, Magician's Birthday is truly a rewarding listen for fans of the band and the genre. Riding on the momentum of the classic masterpiece Demons And Wizards, Magician is in comparison not as strong and consistent sometimes, but it's an excellent release on its own, and certainly a highlight in the band's career, one of its best albums.



Recent reviews by this author
Death From Above Outrage! Is NowQueens of the Stone Age Villains
Chris Cornell Higher TruthAlfa Mist Antiphon
Moon Hooch The Joshua TreeRoyal Blood How Did We Get So Dark?
user ratings (134)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Stratman471 (4)
This is my first review, so any feedback, negative or positive, is greatly appreciated....


Comments:Add a Comment 
danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
July 21st 2015


11518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Another edit of my old Heep reviews. Only one more to go and I'm done.

BigHans
July 21st 2015


28387 Comments


Nice one, title track goes hard

MrSirLordGentleman
July 21st 2015


10789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool re-write dude!





The final minute on the t/t is fucking epic

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
July 21st 2015


11518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Hans and Lord, appreciate it.

Jethro42
July 21st 2015


14923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have to revisit that band, starting with this one, to see if my rating is legit.

MrSirLordGentleman
July 22nd 2015


10789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Blind Eye, Tales and the middle section of the t/t are the only really weak moments in the album so yeah, I think it deserves at least a 4, jethro

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2015


11518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Any album from the classic lineup would be a nice starting point. Namely salisbury and demons.

manosg
Staff Reviewer
July 23rd 2015


10452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great write up Daniel, pos.



I agree with your assessment of Sunrise, it's also one of my favorite UH ballads. Also, if I remember correctly, Spider Woman was the first song I really enjoyed by these guys even though know I'm not too fond of it.

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
July 23rd 2015


11518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man. Spider Woman is pretty cool in my opinion, very 70's psych hippie stuff but cool anyways.

e210013
July 30th 2015


1443 Comments


Great album from a great band.

However this is a band I need to konw better.

MrSirLordGentleman
July 30th 2015


10789 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Check Demons & Wizards and Salisbury, both are the best albums by Heep and they both show their proggier and their more rock side

danielcardoso
Contributing Reviewer
July 31st 2015


11518 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

[2]

manosg
Staff Reviewer
July 31st 2015


10452 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[3] + Look at Yourself + Very 'eavy... Very 'umble

beeroine87
July 1st 2017


91 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I can't help but wonder why I like this album more than the rest of their classics, when it's clear as day that it's inferior composition wise...



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy