High And Mighty

Uriah Heep

Castle Communications, 1976

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/03/2000

In 1976, Uriah Heep was a band in trouble.

Sure, they were coming off a commercially successful album, Return To Fantasy. But they had gone through the heartbreak of firing bassist Gary Thain and the tragedy of his death shortly after the album's release. But they had new problems on their hands; lead singer David Byron was developing a serious alcohol problem, and it was beginning to adversely affect his work with the band.

High And Mighty, the second and final album featuring Thain's replacement John Wetton, illustrates this painfully. It has its moments, but the disc also suggests this was a band dangerously close to the point of self-parody.

Although most of the performances on this disc are far too lightweight for a band once known for its stomping melodies, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 High And Mighty occasionally does hold out some hope at the start. "Weep In Silence" has all the makings of a classic rock ballad from that time period, though it needed a little more development in the songwriting department. "Misty Eyes" could easily have been pegged as a single, even though it doesn't really fit the bill of being a typical Uriah Heep song. Still, Byron and company pull some magic out of the track.

But there is early trouble brewing on this album. Wetton's turn as lead throat, "One Way Or Another," is not the most comfortable vocal performance I've ever heard, and said nothing about the singer he'd show he was as a member of Asia. "Midnight" is a track that just never gets off the ground, either in songwriting or in performance.

And then, there's "Can't Keep A Good Band Down". Where do I begin on this one? It's one thing when a band who is at the top of their game records a song about being a kick-ass group. Grand Funk did it with "We're An American Band," and backed up the boast with an outstanding performance. But Uriah Heep was a band in trouble internally, and this almost seemed like a denial of problems. The song is supposed to be a cocky boast, but instead sounds like the receiving area of the Betty Ford Clinic - "I'm telling you, I don't have a problem!"

The second half of High And Mighty sounds as if it were made up of songs that were considered sub-par for other albums. Tracks like "Footprints In The Snow," "Make A Little Love" and "Woman Of The World" all fail to impress the listener.

As for the bonus tracks - has it ever occurred to anyone why some songs remain unreleased? "Name Of The Game" is explanation enough for me. If it had a better vocal line, I'd have cut it some slack. "Sundown," in contrast, comes and goes without leaving much of an impression.

High And Mighty would be a turning point for Uriah Heep; Byron was fired after this album, and Wetton packed his bass and followed him out the door. Whether the personnel change would help this band remains to be seen on another day in another review... but this album proves that something needed to be done.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Castle Communications, and is used for informational purposes only.