The fifth Uriah Heep studio album called The Magican's Birthday is my personal favourite Heep studio album (the live 1973 album being my overall favourite Heep CD) and that is mainly due to three tracks, being Sunrise, Sweet Lorraine and the epic title track. Now, 45 years later this great album is re-mastered and I really have to say that listening to The Magican's Birthday again is still a pleasure, proving that Uriah Heep was and still is a great rock band.
Following their highly acclaimed Demons And Wizards (1972) album, The Magican's Birthday was commercially not so successful, although it reached number 1 in Finland! Musically it is a slightly more experimental and heavier album than its predecessor and therefore it is more to my liking than the notorious Demons album. The MB opens with one of Heep's live staples Sunrise, a beautiful rock ballad with top notch vocals of David Byron, followed by the “simple” straight forward rocker Spider Woman. Sweet Lorraine, another live staple is also a nice rock and roll track with great keys from Ken Hensley. Absolute highlight of The MB, and also one of my favourite Heep tracks ever, is the epic title song, a very progressive and experimental track featuring excellent guitar work by mister Uriah Heep himself Mick Box. The chorus of the MB is very catchy and the guitar riff is extremely strong and recognisable.
The Magican's Birthday is an excellent album, a must for Heep fans and this remastered version also offers a bonus CD with 15 alternative, never before released versions of Heep tracks. Notice the rare tracks Silver White Man, Crystal Ball, Happy Birthday and Gary's Song; the booklet is also worth mentioning and the cover, again designed by Roger Dean, is a beauty. So, again a great re-release by BMG, however if you are a Heep fan, you also need a healthy bank account to buy all these “new” Heep albums.
****+ Martien Koolen (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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