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Uriah Heep “Uriah Heep” (1970)

Any time the infamous, heavy-hatin’ thought police at Rolling Stone review an album saying “if this group makes it I’ll have to commit suicide,” you know you’re on to something good, and Uriah Heep’s debut remains a cornerstone of vintage hard rock, delivering a crushing assault that belies its 1970 release date. The bloodthirsty “Gypsy” sets things up with some burning guitar/organ interplay before diving into a Paleolithic riff over which Byron soars with layered vocals. It’s those wild, dramatic harmonies and the band’s authoritative thud that stamps these tunes as something uniquely intense and remarkable – Heep ain’t just the poor man’s Purple, folks! Check out the wild “Bird of Prey,” which predicts Queen with it’s jarring vocals (and kudos to whover swapped this in for the useless “Lucy Blues” from the UK issue), heavy boogie beast “Real Turned On,” and churning entries like “Walking in Your Shadow” and “I’ll Keep on Trying.” The melancholy ballad “Come Away Melinda,” and more involved concept pieces “Dreammare” and “Wake Up” are cool diversions from the mayhem, the band stretching out without losing the plot. Factor in a spacious, detailed production that places you right in the crossfire, and you can hear the metal being forged right inside your aching skull. —Ben

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