Album Review | Lyrics | Artist Comments | Fan Reviews


Reissue Liner Notes

1990 Liner Notes | 1997 Liner Notes

While much ado is made of the giants of 70's hard rock - bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple - little is said these days about some of their equally influential but less well-know peers. Surely topping the list are long-time British veterans, Uriah Heep.

When this English quintet's debut LP was released in 1970, some critic who did not go down in rock history said, "if this band makes it, I'll have to commit suicide". Well, Heep did make it, despite this and other vicious critical barbs, but the fate of the reviewer is unknown. It was just the beginning of a strange career that has seen the group get slammed by the music press throughout their entire twenty-year career, yet somehow endure and carry on to play for eager audiences around the world.

Heep was formed out of the ashes of a band called Spice, by guitarist Mick Box and singer David Bryon. The sound was heavy, blues-influenced, yet possessed of chaotic edge that often veered into primal metal drone. Perched atop it all were Bryon's histrionic yet powerful vocals, and harmonies that gave the band the nickname of "the Beach Boys of heavy metal". It's those distinctive harmonies, plus the group"s trademark mix of wailing guitar with swirling Hammond organ, that have survived numerous personel changes and too many ups and downs of fortune to list here.

There's no doubt that Hep were at their peak between 1972 and 1974, and the lineup at the time remains the quintessential Heep: Box, Bryon, keyboardist Ken Hensley, bassist Gary Thain, and drummer Lee Kerslake. Heep's best and most successful albums came out of that period, and it remains a tragedy that the chemistry flared for all too brief a time, and that two members, Bryon and Thain, are no longer with us today.

The album you hold, Wonderworld, was the final LP recorded by the classic Heep lineup and surely captures five musicans who were spreading their musical wings and diversifying freely while remaining true to the band's core identity. Suicidal Man and Something For Nothing are typical, bottom-heavy Heep anthems, I Won't Mind is a blues crawl, Dreams is a mystical epic, and both Wonderworld and The Easy Road are piercing ballards, showcasing the group's depth and range of emotion. Also included is an ultra-rare bonus track, What Can I Do. Recored during the very sessions that yeiled Wonderworld, this unearthed gem has been pulled from the vaults and is finally avaiable after all these years.

Heep are still aound,with Mick Box still at the helm and Lee Kerslake continuing behind the kit, and it's a tribute to their perseverance and talent that Heep still enjoy a healthy following after two decades. I can think of no better tribute to their music than for us to once again enjoy the album you hold in your hands.


Wonderworld was Uriah Heep's seventh studio album. It was to be the last album to feature New Zealander Gary Thain on bass. It was also the second album to be released by Warner Brothers in the US. Wonderworld featured the line-up of David Byron (lead vocals), Mick Box (guitar), Ken Hensley (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Lee Kerslake (drums, percussion) and Gary Thain (bass). This line-up had been consistent for three previous studio albums - Demons & Wizards, The Magician's Birthday and Sweet Freedom - and the million seller live opus Uriah Heep Live 1973.

Recorded at Musicland studios in Munchen (Munich), Germany. The band were once again recording outside of the Country for tax reasons. Today both Mick Box and Ken Hensley feel that recording away from their home turf of England was contrary to the well being of the band. The album was released originally containing nine tracks (out of twelve tracks actually committed to tape while recording at Musicland). One of the extra tracks, What Can I Do? was set aside as the B-side for the Something Or Nothing single which was released just prior to the album release. Two other studio tracks were to rest in the vaults untouched and unmixed until 1996. The acoustic Stone's Throw and Love, Hate And Fear have subsequently been mixed for inclusion on the band's penultimate box set Time Of Revelation. What you are now holding is the full Wonderworld album (re-mastered of course) in its original running order. Extra tracks include What Can I Do?, previously only released on the Rarities From The Bronze Age CD (Sequel NEX 184).

Also included is a previously unreleased version of Dreams from the Wonderworld sessions. This version is longer than the original and was mixed for the first time in August 1995.

Two previously unreleased live versions of The Easy Road and Something Or Nothing both of which were recorded live at Shepperton Film Studios in 1974. Both of these live versions were mixed for the first time in 1995. The Live At Shepperton concert (a full concert including many re-runs of songs) was originally setup for airing to American radio in 1974 as PR and pre-release for the Wonderworld album. Both songs are different versions to those released on the Live At Shepperton '74 album.

These live recordings were the last known live recordings that exist with Gary Thain playing bass. By February of the following year Thain was ousted from the band due to 'lack of reliability'. He was replaced by John Wetton (Family, UK, Asia). Although Thain was a brilliant player he had been plagued by ill health, drug problems and several incidents involving musical equipment malfunction. One of the worst incidents involving him being electrocuted while playing live in Dallas. This resulted in hospitalization for Gary and cancellation of the remaining US and UK dates. Disaster followed in the December following his exit from the band when Gary was found dead in his flat from a drug overdose. Rock and roll had lost one of the greatest bass players of this era.

Although Wonderworld may not have been the best album Uriah Heep recorded it does contain some truly excellent moments. It was probably a shame the line-up couldn't have continued together. Fame and fortune were beginning to take their toll.

With John Wetton in place Uriah Heep rapidly commenced work on their next album entitled Return To Fantasy which was released in November 1975 and went on to become their biggest selling album to date, reaching number seven in the charts.

© 1996 Robert M. Corich

Album Review | Lyrics | Artist Comments | Fan Reviews

Previous album Next album

Content Copyright © 1997 Jay Pearson

LinkExchange Member Free Home Pages at GeoCities