Uriah Heep – Words In The Distance 1994-1998 Boxset (3 CDs) – Part 1

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Three Out Of Three Ain’t Bad…

Reviewed by Brian McGowan and released by Cherry Red Records on 13 February 2017

Long ago, that quintessentially English prog/ rock/ classic/ metal (delete as applicable) band, Uriah Heep perfected the art of the comeback.

By bulking up the era’s AOR stylings with heavy metal muscle, 1982’s Abominog launched the band on a new trajectory. Then, 12 years later, 1994’s Sea Of Light dared to be different by returning to classic, old school rock’n’roll. Sometimes you have to go back to go forward.

The album was fresh testament to the durability and songwriting nous of Mick Box and Phil Lanzon, showcasing a lyrically mature if uninflected worldview. It was a lot less ‘umble and a lot less ‘eavy.

Specialist label, Cherry Red Records, have now re-released the album, including the 3 bonus tracks added when the whole shebang was remastered in 2013. It’s one of three CDs in a mouthwatering box set that includes the equally fine studio album, Sonic Origami, a recording that edged the music up the bombast scale, without falling foul of the bloat and bluster that handicapped many Rock bands of the time.

Both albums are filled to the brim with conventionally structured songs which means there aren’t any real surprises, just plenty of skilfully crafted tracks, Sea Of Light‘s standout cuts, ‘Mistress Of All Time’ and ‘Against The Odds’, dip their toes into operatic rock territory. Others have their feet firmly planted on solid ground, building to something monolithic, yet showing restraint at the climactic moments, like the gorgeously optimistic pop rush of Time Of Revelation; the rolling, rumbling ‘Universal Wheels’ and the juddering seventies’ rock throwback ‘Fear Of Falling’.

Amusingly, many rock critics were caught out, having already consigned the band to their dungeons and dragons past, but even better was to come.

7 out of 10uriahheepboxset500

Tracklist:

  1. Against The Odds
  2. Sweet Sugar
  3. Time Of Revelation
  4. Mistress Of All Time
  5. Universal Wheels
  6. Fear Of Falling
  7. Spirit Of Freedom
  8. Logical Progression
  9. Love In Silence
  10. Words In The Distance
  11. Fires Of Hell
  12. Dream On
  13. She Still Calls His Name (bonus track)
  14. Sail The RiversĀ  (bonus track)
  15. Dream OnĀ  (single edit bonus track)