Uriah Heep – Wonderworld / High and Mighty

Uriah Heep – Wonderworld / High and Mighty
BMG Records
Release Date: 26/05/23
Running Time: 
Wonderworld: 34:40
High and Mighty: 38:20
Review by Paul Hutchings

BMG continue to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Uriah Heep with the release of official picture discs “Wonderworld” and “High and Mighty”. In a voyage of discovery of this great British band, these may not be essential in the way that “Demons and Wizards” or “The Magician’s Birthday” are, but there are plenty of gems tucked within these two releases. The retouched artwork makes these releases a real visual treat. 

“Wonderworld” was the seventh studio album by Uriah Heep. Released in June 1974, it followed Sweet Freedom in the band’s discography. The album was the last to feature bassist Gary Thain who was fired from the band in 1975 and subsequently died later that year from a heroin overdose at the age of 27. Alongside Thain, who has featured in all releases from “Demons and Wizards” to “Wonderworld”, there is the classic quartet of vocalist David Byron, guitarist Mick Box, keyboard player Ken Hensley and drummer Lee kerslake. 

It’s a strange album in some respects, solid with plenty to enjoy. The highlights are probably ‘Suicidal Man’, ‘So Tired’ and the upbeat ‘Something or Nothing’. The album is once again trademark Heep, with Hensley’s luscious keyboards once more dominating without overpowering. Box’s fine guitar work is somewhat understated on a few of the tracks, although when he lets rip, as he does on ‘Something or Nothing’, he is in fine form. With Byron’s fabulously flamboyant vocals soaring above, it’s certainly not an album to ignore. 

There are a few duds. ‘The Easy Road’ hasn’t aged well, with its film score feel sounding particularly dated. The low-end beat of ‘I Won’t Mind’ sees Heep slowing down their sound, allowing Box to play some screaming lead work, whilst Byron noodles away. It’s a song representative of the era, with the longer, drawn-out style showcasing the band’s technical excellence. The album is rounded off by the trippy drift of ‘Dreams’, which is the longest song on the album. 

“High and Mighty” is the ninth album by the band, and the last to feature Byron, fired due to his alcohol issues. John Wetton also made his last appearance for the band on this release. With all tracks written by Hensley, it opens with ‘One Way or Another’, with the vocals shared between Whetton and Hensley.  It wasn’t a well-received album at the time, panned by critics for the drift into mainstream territory. 

It has held up well in parts, over the years though, and despite its rather disjointed feel, the songs are enjoyable and well crafted. ‘One Way or Another’ is a fabulous opener, ‘Midnight’ is euphoric, whilst the drive of ‘Can’t Keep a Good Band Down’ is decent if a bit formulaic. ‘Woman of the World’ is a shocker mind you, one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard by this fantastic band. It doesn’t get much better on ‘Footprints in the Snow’, which veers towards Bowie in sound, if not quality. Weaker than its predecessor, “Return to Fantasy”, “High and Mighty” is not Heep’s finest hour. However, looking back, you can see and hear why the band are now regarded as innovative and ground-breaking. And it’s the catalogue of work with its huge variation in styles that makes this continued voyage of discovery such fun. 

01. Wonderworld 
02. Suicidal Man
03. The Shadows and the Wind 
04. So Tired 
05. The Easy Road 
06. Something or Nothing 
07. I Won’t Mind
08. We Got We
09. Dreams 

High and Mighty
01. One Way or Another 
02. Weep in Silence 
03. Misty Eyes 
04. Midnight
05. Can’t Keep a Good Band Down
06. Woman of the World
07. Footprints in the Snow
08. Can’t Stop Singing
09. Make a Little Love
10. Confession

David Byron – Vocals
Mick Box – Guitars
Ken Hensley – Keyboards, guitars, Backing Vocals
Lee Kerslake – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Gary Thain – Bass

High and Mighty
David Byron – Vocals
Mick Box – Guitars
Ken Hensley – Keyboards, guitars, Backing Vocals
Lee Kerslake – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
John Whetton – Bass, Mellotron, Electric Piano, Backing Vocals


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Hutchings and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.