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Brit rockers Uriah Heep’s fourth album, Demons And Wizards, was the first with what is regarded as the definitive line-up, and saw them create a dark fantasy world. Sean Egan explores the band’s musical high point and BMG’s latest Art Of The Album reissue…


Concert day, Italy. Uriah Heep’s Ken Hensley is confronted by a bewildering sight. A female fan has turned up with the legend ‘Today is only yesterday’s tomorrow’ tattooed on her arm. The words are a line from Circle Of Hands, a track written by Hensley for Heep’s esteemed 1972 album Demons And Wizards.

He freely admits it to be “a really not tremendously intellectual statement.” However, the fan’s solemn reaction to his lyrics is not unusual: “I’ve seen T-shirts made with it.” “It captured everyone’s imagination”, observes his colleague Mick Box of such Heep wordcraft. “It’s certainly a long way from Moon-in-June.”

Some 46 years later, the fascination inspired by Demons And Wizards’ mysticism-infused music goes on: the record is the subject of a new luxurious reissue in BMG’s Art Of The Album series. Although Demons And Wizards was Heep’s fourth LP, it was the first to feature what to most fans is the band’s definitive line-up. Following much personnel upheaval, vocalist David Byron, guitarist Mick Box and keyboardist Ken Hensley were joined by bassist Gary Thain and drummer Lee Kerslake. “While Lee was powering à la John Bonham, Gary was off with his wandering basslines”, reflects Box. “Gary was the most musical bass player I’ve ever heard”, says Hensley. “The combination of Gary and Lee was the final link to us extracting the maximum from our music. It was perfect. Putting the new line-up together definitely inspired me as a writer.”

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