In case you're wondering, that includes the standard edition (which has only the CD), the deluxe editions (which throws in a seven-track DVD of Uriah Heep’s performance at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2009), and a collector’s edition (which comes with a 7” vinyl single, boasting 2 exclusive bonus tracks, signed by the band). Start saving, Heep fans.
The music, however, remains quite remarkable. Uriah Heep have, for the most part, managed to maintain a unique sound over their career, and as soon as you hear parping keyboards, high pitched multi-part harmony vocals, and a rock-solid rhythm section, then you know you're in Heep country. The band play it fairly safe as they dip into their back catalogue, with only a few minor arrangement tweaks here and there. However, on some of the tracks, the 21st century production really works. Some early Heep albums had a fairly flat sound, but the version of "Gypsy" on this release blows the original away. Heresy I'm sure to fans of original vocalist, David Byron, but it's true.
Nine of the re-recordings hark back to the David Byron era, when they managed to put out five albums in two years, something that will send a shudder through today's workshy rockers. They do pull out two songs from Innocent Victim, one of the albums originally released with John Lawton on vocals, but there's only one song from Bernie Shaw's tenure in the band, with a curtain being drawn over most of the '80s, when John Sloman and (subsequently) Pete Goalby were singing.
Now I'm no apologist for Conquest, John Sloman's sole album with the band, but the shiny AOR of Abominog, Head First and Equator would certainly have been worth a return visit. Songs like "Hot Persuasion," "Weekend Warriors" and "Rockarama" would have completed the picture, although their tentative foray into rap-rock on "Stay On Top" is probably best left locked away.
Regardless, I really enjoyed Celebration, and anyone who likes Uriah Heep will like it as well. The band — vocalist Bernie Shaw, guitarist Mick Box, keyboardist Phil Lanzon, bassist Trevor Bolder, and (new boy) drummer Russell Gilbrook — is a group of top-class musicians playing top-class songs. It's a testament to their powers that this album even exists!