Finally David Byron was out. His on and offstage behaviour forced the band to fire him. The common belief under many Classic Uriah Heep fans was that that was the end to proper Uriah Heep albums. It took me a very long time to start this review. I just could not begin with it. And reading other reviews did not make it easier for me.

I knew that I had to totally clear my mind of any album that was released prior to Firefly. Easier said than done. This was the same band with a different vocalist. What is the big deal. And then I bought a Lucier's Friend album and John Lawton band. It prepared me, but not enough.

And then I went back to the Rock-timeline. 1977 was the year when Punk exploded. Prog Rock was seen as something belonging to the Dinosaur period. But that is not all: THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT THAT REVIEWERS MISS WAS: 1977 CAN BE SEEN AS THE BEGINNING OF THE EXPLOSION OF THE AOR MUSIC GENRE. This was the year that the following albums were released: Kansas : Point of Know Return, Journey - Next (the year before Infinity), Styx :Grand Illusion, Foreigner with their self-titled album with songs like Feels like the first time.

Against this background, Firefly was not only brilliant - it was groundbreaking. A progressive rock band moving towards Aor and doing it better than anybody else. Compare Firefly with the above-mentioned albums. It has aged a lot better. Firefly possibly influenced Journey's Infinity. Listen to the two albums and you will know what I mean. There are a few songs on the album that don't fit in: Songs like Who needs me, Do you know and Rollin' on. But the rest are masterpieces. Brilliant. Relevant and even good to today's standards. Let us look at the rest:

The Hanging Tree:  Lana Lane once said that this is her favourite song from Uriah Heep. How clever of her. It is a very spooky song with the spooky keyboards, dark riffs and even the echo that goes with it. I love this song. Very seldom do you get a song that reflects the lyrics so good with music. And the guitar solo highlights a brilliant song. 10/10

Been away too long: This was more typical of the blues-rock-AOR that was to be followed by David Coverdale who just released his first solo-album. But still typical of the upcoming AOR movement. Perhaps Mr Coverdale listened to this song and learned a lot for his future albums. Very good song and even though it differs in style the atmosphere of the keyboards and the vocals let it fit in perfectly. 9.5/10

Wise man: For this song they go back to the mystic lyrics of the Demons and Wizards - era. But their is a huge difference. This is placed within an AOR - atmosphere which make it a very clever song. Listen to the vocals - pure rock ballad. Lawton takes you through a lot of emotions in less than 5 minutes. The last notes are so scaring good, it gives me Goosebumps. 10/10

Sympathy: I cannot get enough of this song. The melodic twin guitar and brilliant vocals was possibly what Wishbone Ash strife for their whole life. How they would have loved to write and do this song. Cannot get better. 10/10

Firefly: This song is more typical of the Kansas and Styx approach of that time than with the Foreigner and Journey approach. It goes through four phases and how they blend it together in one song is awesome. Possibly one of Heep's best 5 songs. 10/10.

Rating: 9/10

Release date: 1977

Trevor Bolder Bass, Guitar (Bass), Vocals
Mick Box Guitar
Ken Hensley Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals
Lee Kerslake Drums, Vocals
John Gallen Assistant Engineer
John Lawton Vocals
Martin White Paintings
Peter Gallen Engineer

1 The Hanging Tree Hensley, Williams 3:40
2 Been Away Too Long Hensley 5:03
3 Who Needs Me Kerslake 3:39
4 Wise Man Hensley 4:40
5 Do You Know Hensley 3:12
6 Rollin' On Hensley 6:21
7 Sympathy Hensley 4:44
8 Firefly Hensley 6:21

The Hanging Tree
Been away too long:
Wise man

I can honestly say that I am dumbstruck, in awe and converted. This is one of the best AOR-albums of the late seventies. Forget about Foreigner, Styx, Kansas, Journey - listen to Firefly.



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