Coming in the mid-tier of the band's extensive discography, although only two years apart when they were originally released, these albums are very different beasts.
Coming at the end of an era, 'Wonderworld' was the final album to feature bassist Gary Thain, who would sadly be dead less than twelve months after its release. In fact, of the five pictured on its sleeve, today, only guitarist Mick Box remains.
Kicking off in majestic style with the title track's sci-fi keys which give way to late eonmusic interviewee Ken Hensley's genteel piano and the unmistakable vocals of David Byron, it's a grandiose beginning. Followed by Purple-esque rockers 'Suicidal Man', and 'So Tired (with 'The Shadow and the Wind', whose outro really shows off the singular vocal talents of Byron, coming in between). Heep had, by this stage in their career, found their sound, and were treading a comfortable, well-worn path.
Following ballad 'The Easy Road', normal service is resumed on 'Something or Nothing', and while 'We Got We' is inessential, the album closes out in glorious style with the propulsive 'Dreams'.
The final album to feature Byron, ‘High and Mighty’ followed (with 1975's 'Sweet Freedom', which was released earlier in this reissue series, coming in between). It's one of the more easily forgotten releases from the time when the talismanic front man led the band.
Featuring a co-lead vocal from Thain-replacement John Wetton, rollocking opener 'One Way or Another' is as good as it gets, while the prophetic 'Can't Keep a Good Band Down' could be their epitaph, more than forty-five years on from this release.
Doubtlessly however, if you're reading this, it's likely that you already know all that. These heavy-duty picture discs are great excuse to revisit this somewhat overlooked period in this criminally underrated band's history. Slip into some bell bottoms and give them a spin.
'Wonderworld' and 'High and Mighty' are released on 26th May 2023. Order here.