While the history of Uriah Heep is littered with line up changes, the single most important one in terms of their sound took place between the previous album, "High and Mighty", and this one. With David Byron having been sacked as lead vocalist, John Lawton (ex Lucifer’s Child) was brought in as his replacement.
In opting for Lawton, the other band members had decided to go for someone with a completely different voice and style, so right from the first few bars of "Firefly" the listener is aware of a fundamental change. Lawton’s voice is deeper and much rougher, with more of a blues/jazz tinge.
John Wetton also left the band before this album was recorded, being replaced by ex Spiders from Mars bassist Trevor Boulder. Boulder has gone on to become one of Heep’s longest servicing members, and is in fact still in the band today.
The music on "Firefly" is generally lighter than previous albums, with Hensley choosing to create an almost orchestral texture with the keyboards, on which the album is built. Yet again, Hensley dominates the song writing, with only one short track "Who needs me" being a rare Kerslake composition. The title track is a very soft but beautiful piece, a million miles from "Easy Livin’". Even when the band rock, such as on "Been away too long", it’s not the all out wall of sound of the early days.
When listening to this album, it is necessary to first put aside any preconceptions about the music it will contain. It’s not really a follow up to "High and Mighty" but a new beginning for the band with a new direction and sound. Once that is accepted, it’s actually a very enjoyable album, with strong melodies, and tight musicianship.
1. The Hanging Tree
2. Been Away Too Long
3. Who Needs Me
4. Wise Man
5. Do You Know
6. Rollin' On
9. Crime Of Passion (b-side)
10. Do You Know (demo version)
11. A Far Better Way (Out-take)
12. Wise Man (TV backing track)