Uriah Heep

ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM SOUNDS, September 6, 1975

Oh, what a great look into the past this one is. Once again, it shows you that this band should have been inducted in the Rock`n`roll Hall of Fame a long time ago. Yeah, I know I always nag about this, but this band was one of the four most important bands of the early 70s, along with Purple, Sabbath and Zeppelin. Still touring and largely influential with a great catalog of songs that will stand the test of time. I know that Lee Kerslake is seriously ill at the time of writing this, and it would have been nice for him and the other  members to be recognised for what they have given the world of rock.
What the fuck are the Hall of Fame waiting for?
Read on!

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Into the abattoir with Heep

Rob Mackie snaps his fingers and Uriah Heep jump, (well almost). The lava spewing valium tablet in the human form of Uriah Heep recently visited Chicago and Cleveland. Here Rob gives us a bird`s eye view of the concerts and talks to Mick Box, the world`s only one-armed guitarist (almost)

“I`m Richard, your chauffeur. Snap your fingers, I`ll jump.”
Everyone in the car snaps their fingers, but the driver remains fixed in his seat, a large jowl topped off with a shiny cap. His pronouncement interrupts a flood of Monty Pythonic exclamations from Uriah Heep drummer Lee Kerslake, seemingly a spontaneous reaction at seeing an English face in the back of the big black limo at Chicago airport.
Kerslake slumps down in the back seat. An absurd blue cap picked up somewhere along the tour is pulled firmly down over his eyes. Ken Hensley, the Heep keyboard man and guitarist, sprawls in the front seat, all flowing hair and patched denim, providing the perfect contrast to the sombreness of the traditional Big Black car and its close-shorn driver.
The pair eye Chicago with something approaching fondness – one of the places where the Heep has traditionally been able to snap its collective fingers and have everybody jumping. A place where the audience expects commitment and vigour, and is no slouch at giving it back. The sort of city that a real road band looks forward to in the midst of a return US tour after a year`s absence. Not so very long ago, Uriah Heep were placed down bill to T. Rex here – a teaming which in Chicago eyes is not far away from putting Jimi Hendrix on before the Monkees. The support band did three encores. The headliners earned a cornucopia of raspberries, and have not been seen around these parts since.

PICNIC

Not that Chicago is anybody`s idea of a picnic. David Byron has met with a stabbing attempt here a couple of years back, and another time, guitarist Mick Box was due to meet a friend who was White Trash`s drummer, in a Chicago club. The meeting never took place, because the drummer, got involved in an argument, and was killed stone dead by three swift karate chops. Accordingly, a quartet of burly locals is added to the party for Chicago. As singer David Byron puts it: “If they like you here, they`re the best audience in the world. If they don`t like you, better look out.”
The first port of call, after a quick stop off at the hotel, is a bizarre trip to a gigantic suburban shopping centre called Randhurst, for a `personal appearance` number. The band is met at the door by the manager, a bulbous extremely nervous man of a sweaty disposition, wearing a white top hat for the occasion, and a troupe of shop security men dressed like park rangers in Yogi Bear. By now, even the security men have a security man.)
The highpoint of this traditional American mixture of show biz, shop biz and politics, comes when the band is ushered on to a specially erected stage in the centre of the main thoroughfare, to be gawped at by a few autograph hunters, and a majority who look ready for the members to start juggling or balancing circus balls on their noses.

SUPERMARKET

Ladies and gentlemen, Uriah HEEP!”, the manager says into a microphone. A smattering of applause is followed by renewed two-way gawps. Photos are taken. Autographs are signed. Box repeats the tale of how he broke his arm for the umptundreth time. Bassist John Wetton, now a fully-fledged Heep of six months, is hanging around the edge, nursing a stomach ache. Someone thrusts towards him one of the Uriah Heep photos being distributed.
Almost inevitably, it`s at least a year old, and features his predecessor, Gary Thain slap bang in the middle.
Wetton groans quitely. “After four years of looking at Ric Grech and Greg Lake, now I`m Gary Thain.” He looks as if he may be trying to imagine how Robert Fripp would disport himself on a stage in the centre of a supermarket.
Eventually, the party of people and protectors is led downstairs to a tiny clothing store, where they are allowed to meet the plebs in a somewhat less conspicuous way, and sign some more autographs. The band is allowed out, but not before the shop manager has taken the microphone for an exceptionally tedious speech, which eventually rambles around to the fact that there will be Uriah Heep T-shirts in stock the following week. “Which you`ll give away free!”, Byron shouts. “Well, er, yes of course”, the manager mumbles. By this time, Box has sensibly Sellotaped a note to the plaster on his right arm: `I fell off the stage`.
Back to the air-conditioned limos, bearing the spoils of war. Hensley has been presented with a large and useless key “for services to music”, mounted on a wood plaque. Kerslake, no shrinking violet, emerges with seven free shirts. “I earned them” he says shaking his autograph wrist painfully…
By the time of the concert, one of the shirts has found its way on to the back of one of the security men, who struts it around like it was a policeman`s badge. True to Chicago`s heavy reputation, the concert hall has also served its time as an abattoir and animal market. In earlier days the Heep played a splendid small hall in another part of the city. Now, economics demand the sacrifice of acoustic niceties in order to house the 15,000 in a near sell-out audience in the big barn called The Amphitheatre.
The full-throated roar that greets Heep`s arrival brings back to mind the pathetic Village-green-cricket applause accorded to this afternoon`s supermarket superstars.
Like their last album title, Heep going back on the road is a return to fantasy, and their fantasy is hitting this audience right there, where it hurts, which is what this crowd loves.
Visually, Heep are clearcut and straight to the point. Hensley tilts his organ in front of him, throws his waist length hair back like a brunette Wakeman. He`s wearing white boots, as absurdly long as his hair, so that the two almost meet.
Behind him is the beefy Kerslake, laying down the heavy Heep drum sound that`s always been a trademark. In front of him, Wetton, serious in black at one side of the stage, and the amiable Box on the other, plaster limb and all. Between the two, and just about everywhere else on the stage at one time or another, Byron struts flits and poses his way unashamedly through the set.

TRIBUTE

Aside from the unrelenting din of early Heep, it was probably Byron`s stage presence that led the critics to lambast the group so unmercifully. He`s playing the pop star every minute of the set. If pulling his shirt over one shoulder gets a few squeals, he`ll do it; if rolling on the floor is a crowd pleaser, he`ll do that. The more the older element cringe, the more the kids love it.
“We just want to be where it`s all going on / But tell me what do you do when it`s over and everyone who loved you is gone? / You`re just another prima donna of rock`n`roll / So please let me know when you want me to go.”
`Prima Donna` perfectly sums up Byron and this Chicago audience, playing the church to Heep`s steeple. And of course they don`t want them to go. Ever. It`s an impressive tribute to the band`s popularity that the crowd sings the `rock and roll` part of the chorus without prompting, although the song`s a new one-off `Return To Fantasy`.
Most of the songs are current, although some old favourites like `Stealin` and `July Morning` – an impressive song reminiscent of Vanilla Fudge – survive. The addition of Wetton has broadened out the band`s sound a lot: his bass playing was always firm but fluid, and the band now has four vocalists, well used on the likes of `Primma Donna`.

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MOVING AWAY

Not that Heep are going subtle, but there are signs that they`re moving away from their old unenviable reputation as the Peter Storeys of Rock. And it is odd how numbers like `Shady Lady`, which come over as almost unlistenable on the album, suit a time and a place like this so well that you find your legs going up and down like they`re supposed to do on such occasions.
They do stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood, as Shakespeare used to put it, particularly on `Easy Livin`, another big crowd-pleaser out here in the mid-West. It has Kerslake doing his menacing immovable-object drumming, and Byron and Wetton duelling up front, one in black and one white, like good and evil. Heep set a fast pace for themselves and live up to it. The end roar is even louder than the beginning one, and it`s filled out with explosions and the eternal matches.
For Chicago, the crowd seems unusually well-behaved, which could have something to do with around 200 plain-clothes security men being posted out-front. It`s a success, and over dinner the band`s manager Gerry Bron is going over some impressive figures. In one city, he says, they`re outselling Clapton three to one.
The Heep`s hotel bookings always include a Mr. Loon, whose room is available for anyone who feels like partying. In Chicago, everyone feels like partying.
Next day, people are a little clumsy. Settling themselves on to the plane for Cleveland, everyone manages to bump their heads on the overhead luggage compartment. Kerslake does it twice, and gets his own back, by planting a firm header into it, just like he was nutting an enemy on Sauchiehall Street. Wetton whiles away the hour`s flight leafing through a few Press cuttings. He pauses in amazement over a piece in Cashbox, which, underneath the obligatory picture of Heep with Thain, proclaims: “In the case of Uriah Heep, critics less attuned to pulverising lead riffs, finely sculptured keyboard runs and the overall subtlety of a train wreck, have been prone to dismiss the band as a lava spewing valium tablet in human form”.
Today`s gig for the lava spewing valium tablet is at a huge stadium, peopled on other days by the Cleveland Indians baseball team. It`s a one-day festival in which Heep is the penultimate band, sandwiched between Aerosmith and the Faces. A hot muddy day out, especially for the people on the pitch, and something to follow, because Aerosmith are a fast-rising band with a current Top 30 album and get a great reception.

Byron is expounding on the Heep philosophy: “Some other bands get up there and say `Come on and love us`, you know, but with us, we force `em along all the time, and make bloody sure they love us.”
It`s a big day for the band, and a specially big day for Hensley, who is celebrating his 30th birthday and the finalising of his divorce. He celebrates onstage, by dropping a cup of orange juice on to one of Kerslake`s cymbals during `Sweet Rain`. Appropriately, Kerslake gets drenched in stickiness.
At Cleveland, The band is more obviously enjoying itself onstage, looking a little less tense, and, as far as can be heard, playing better. In particular, Mick Box, whose playing is severely hampered by his plaster, is missing very little on guitar. `Shady Lady` (a pretty heavy song, if you listen to the lyrics) goes down well. `Prima Donna` gets the same audience response as before, but with around four times as many people out there, the effect is magnified.
Hensley weaves some intricate synthisiser through `Return To Fantasy`, like a `75 version of Telstar`, and Byron comments: “If you can figure out what the lyrics are about then tell me, because I wrote them and I haven`t got a fucking clue”.
Everyone`s enjoying themselves. Wetton`s sweating like a pig, and Box gets so carried away he`s slapping one hand against his cast in the clapalong part. Only afterwards does the pain show through on his face.
`Gypsy` is a good closer, with its slow, insidious drum part creating a mesmeric effect after a while. The audience is up, and Heep end their encore by kicking huge balloons with `THE END printed on them out into the audience.
The contrast is interesting: Aerosmith, the up-and-coming new band followed by Uriah Heep who came close to dying the death and are now showing signs of being on the verge of their most interesting period, and then the Faces.

Despite their augmenting, including what on this occasion looked at a glance like two Tetsus (the other one was Jesse Ed Davis), the Faces, to judge from the first six or seven numbers of their set, are on their last  legs – a fine band degenerated to a very sloppy standard. Sad.
And Rod seemed to have more make-up on than Britt Ekland. But he should worry. Waylaid at the hotel, in the general area of Hensley`s birthday table, he said: “I`ve got the No 1 single and album after five days. Not bad eh”. Which seems to sum up the Faces future. Even the band`s roadies were all wearing `Atlantic Crossing T-shirts.
With America`s second favourite couple in the hotel (after Gregg and Cher, that is), things were bound to be a little more packed with post-concert hangers-on than usual. Like the guy who approached some Heep members having a quiet drink at the bar with a paranoid expression, demanding: “What`s the matter with the girls at that table then? Are they ugly? Why are you all sitting up here? I mean, look at them, are those ugly girls?” Ah the perils of stardom.
Box was already beginning to regret the promise of putting a few words down on tape. “Yeah, anytime Rob. I`ll just have a few drinks.” “Yeah, sure I`ll just go and have one with Kenny.” We finally sat down with the infernal machine at lunch-time on the following day, and so, the last words on the tour from the world`s only one-armed guitarist (almost).
“John joining the group has made a big difference. I think it speaks for itself when we get up there. Towards the end of the old group, things were getting pretty bad, mostly from a morale point of view. There were four people who wanted to really pull all the stops out and work and work, but Gary couldn`t do too much because of his state of health and a lot of personal problems, so we were just going downhill as a band, it was very frustration. In the end we just had to sever that, because we are a terribly hard-working band; that`s our commitment to life at the moment.

ON THE WAY

“I was a bit worried about this tour, but it`s been fine, just like back to square one, the audiences are still just as good; and the tour is selling the album here. Just since we started this tour, it`s shot up to around the sixties with a bullet, so it`s well on its way. We`ll get another gold album if it kills us, which it probably will.
“Now with John, the numbers and ideas are coming out at a rate of knots, it`s ridiculous. From all of us. So now we just go into the rehearsal room with our little box of gems, and say `What do you think of that one?` and then jam off it.
“Yeah, the arm does hurt a bit sometimes, and I go a bit white at the gills, but it was a choice of going on with a little bit of pain or sitting at home getting fidgety with an arm in cement, doing nothing.”

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
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ARTICLE ABOUT Ken Hensley FROM SOUNDS, May 31, 1975

Ken Hensley was an very important figure in the earliest incarnation of Uriah Heep. Without him I`m not sure they would have become as great as they did. But, then again, being a great and important band member doesn`t necessarily mean that you will do success as an solo artist. The sum of the parts and all that…
There is nothing wrong with this album, but I agree with the reviewer in that it lacks the originality to keep your attention. A Box or a Byron would have spiced things up in my opinion.
Read on.

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Ken Hensley: `Eager To Please` (Bronze ILPS 9307) (37.00).

Record review by Pete Makowski

There is no doubt that this is an improvement on Hensley`s debut offering, `Proud Words On A Dusty Shelf`. It`s a more relaxed confident effort that shows a melodic side to Uriah Heep`s keyboardsman. It still contains some of the dramatic musical intensity that is prominent in Heep`s music but that`s about the only similarity detectable. Here Hensley is backed by ex-Heep bassist Mark Clarke, a very capable musician who holds back or lets forth when necessary. Clarke has also contributed one of the compositions, `In The Morning`, which is easily the best song on the album. It`s screaming with commercial potential, bouncing along merrily with some soulful sax from Ray Warleigh. The closest competitors to this are `Eager To Please` and `Winter Or Summer` which ride on a backbone of brash chord work and strong harmonies. Hensley seems to write his material around the limitations of his voice which is powerful but not very versatile. Drummer Bugs Remberton holds tight with Clarke`s bass playing which anchors the solidity and strength of the band`s sound. Hensley`s repertoire is varied from the heavily orchestrated almost schmaltzy tones of `How Shall I Know?` and the floaty acoustic ballad `The House On The Hill` to the brash supercharged humdingers like `Stargazer`. It`s a shame that Hensley doesn`t explore his keyboard playing a little more. The album could have done with some more guest guitarists, competent as Hensley is, his playing doesn`t have enough style, individuality or originality to keep your attention. A fair offering.

Hensley

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!
The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!
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ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM SOUNDS, June 29, 1974

A great review for the band. Well deserved and nice to see!

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Live Review

By John Howe

The Heavy Metal Kids provided the support for Uriah Heep at Hammersmith on Saturday night. They played a very disappointing set for approximately an hour covering most of their forthcoming album. “Rock and Roll Man”, their new single, gained their loudest applause probably because it was the last number. I`ve seen this band before and think they could have done better.
After about thirty minutes Heep took the stage accompanied by clouds of dry ice swirling around their feet. With invisible legs they launched into material from their new album “Wonderful”, including “Suicidal Man”, “So Tired” and their new single “Something Or Nothing.” There was some excellent keyboard work by Ken Hensley on the title track “Wonderworld” plus some nice playing on the grand piano on a number called “The Easy Road.”
Interspersed throughout the concert were old Heep favourites, “Sweet Lorraine,” “July Morning,” “Easy Living,” and “Gypsy” which went down particularly well. They encored with “Look at Yourself” and, as Mr. Byron somberly explained, their last performance of their Rock and Roll Medley with the emphasis on Blue Suede Shoes.
Two Heep members played particularly well, Mick Box and Lee Kerslake. Box, complete master of his guitar played very tightly, letting rip with his screeching high notes supported equally well by Gary Thain on bass who seems to improve with every performance. Lee Kerslake (a very underestimated drummer in my opinion), played very well, pounding out a sweaty beat, nothing dynamic, and just got on with his job. Byron and Hensley performed just as well of course in their respective trades, but then they nearly always do.
All in all it was a typical Heep concert. The joint was rocking and boogieing all night, and the audience enjoyed it, especially an eighty year old grand-dad who was jumping up and down putting most of the young Heep freaks to shame. Good on yer sport.

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM SOUNDS, June 8, 1974

Sort of disappointing to read that Mr. Makowski didn`t like Heep much – I expected him, as the rocker he is, to be more fond of the band. Well, you can`t win them all! Still a fairly good review of this album.

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Uriah Heep: “Wonderworld” (Bronze ILPS 9280)

Record review by Pete Makowski

Another album, another Heep. There is one thing that bugs me about this band and that`s Dave Byron`s voice, it`s too clean and smooth and doesn`t sound natural in a rock and roll context. This album`s not bad, but I`ve got to admit that I`m not a keen fan of the band. It opens up with “Wonderworld”, which is penned by keyboards man Ken Hensley and is also one of the most impressive tracks on the album. The thing I dislike about Heep`s music is that they seem to be heading in no particular direction, the only thing you could associate them with is the tightly knit vocals, but again I don`t like the vocals. Mick Box is a bitch of a guitarist and really shows his worth on “Suicidal Man” and “”I Won`t Mind”, their single “Something Or Nothing” is a stomper and the best and most diverse track on the album is “The Easy Road”, another one from Hensley. The whole effect of the album is dampened by a pretty awful mix but the two highlights are Mick Box`s playing and Hensley`s songs.

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The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

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ARTICLE ABOUT Uriah Heep FROM SOUNDS, June 8, 1974

A good one with Heep, led by a still very young Mr. Makowski. Glad that he finally “discovered” Heep in this one. One of the very best bands to discover if you are looking for great bands from the 70s.

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Heep: silent phenomenon?

By Pete Makowski

It wasn`t until recently that I discovered exactly how popular Uriah Heep are. The extent of their success has spread all over the world and they seem to be getting bigger all the time. They could be classed as one of yer silent phenomenons.
Last week there was a reception for the band`s new album “Wonderworld” and the members were all present. I got to the place a bit too early and found the band`s organist Ken Hensley sitting at a table indulging in a bevy or two.
The record player was consistently playing Uriah Heep music and later a video tape of the band`s Shepperton performance was shown as the place began to fill out with press people and various music people. A few words with Hensley revealed that he has a new solo album in the can which was originally going to be called “Wonderworld”.
“I`ve already got the songs written but I haven`t got the time to complete recording”, he said. Eventually we got to talking about the disadvantages of living next to an airport when I was signalled to get ready for my interview with Messrs Mick Box and Lee Kerslake – two extremely amiable guys.
The band recorded the new album in Munich, basically due to tax reasons, but they also found that the studio was compatible for all their needs. I asked Mick how he felt about the album.
“We`re very pleased with it, because it was a strange studio. What I like about it is that we did a couple of the numbers spontaneously in the studio. I like that `cause when we go on stage we have one go with each song and it`s great if you can do that in the studio `cause you get the right feel.”

There was a time when Uriah Heep were categorised in the same vein as Sabbath – bringing out albums like “Demon And Wizzards” and “Magicians Birthday”. “We thought our way out of that one”, explained Mick. “We never created any of that, there were just a few songs put together that fell into that category.
If “Wonderworld” was originally intended to appear on Hensley`s solo album how come it ended up on Heep`s record? “`Wonderworld` was a song that Kenny had saved for his solo album but the policy we have with the band is that anybody can do a solo album, and other people are, but it musn`t detract from anything you write for the band. So anyone can do what they want but the priority at all times must be Uriah Heep. And we tried out Kenny`s song and found that it suited us.”
As soon as Mick mentioned solo album I immediately decided to pursue the subject. Okay boss, whose a gonna make a solo album, eh? “We`re all in the process of doing one”, replied Mick. Dave is going to do a solo album but that will be totally different to anything that Uriah Heep have done.
“Uriah Heep as individuals are into different things. Some of us like funky music, there`s a few acoustic things that we`ve written. There`s some stuff that we`ve written that we`d like to use a chick singer on because that would be more appropriate. We`ve all got ideas in the back of our minds of what we`d like to do and who we`d like to feature.”
“Funny part about it”, interjected Lee, “is that they`re not name people. They`re just guys that we know as friends”.
“If you make a solo album it does become a drag if you start trading on the big names”, continued Mick. “I`d rather it sold one on my own name than if it sold a thousand because David Bowie was playing a sax solo on it or something like that.

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“We`re all in the process of doing solo albums, it`s just a matter of slotting it in because Uriah Heep has the priority over everything. The solo albums are just so that each individual doesn`t feel 100 per cent stifled within the band.”
The band have been spending a lot of time in the US of lately so how has that affected them musically? “It changes you from a semi-pro band to a professional polished outfit”, said Lee. “If you tour in England”, continued Mick, “you do about three weeks at the most. If you do America you tour about two or three months. With that amount of time together you find out a lot of things outside of the music, if you can live together as a unit, `cause you go through so many ups and downs. You`re living in each other`s pockets all the time.”
“There`s no in betweens in the States”, said Lee, “it`s either you`re great or get off`.
Everything we`ve learnt in America we try to bring over here. You`ve got to think of the audience all the time. They`re the people that pushed you on, they bought your records and tickets. And to go on and cut your act down because the stage is too small is just not professional or good enough. We want the audience to get the best that we`ve got to offer.
“What groups have to realise is that audiences can`t be fooled any more, they`re not stupid. I mean they know exactly what we`re doing. They know what instruments we`re playing, they know how thick the skins on Lee`s drums are. I mean one night my wah wah pedal broke and one guy wrote up and asked if it was the batteries. I thought `how the fuck did he know that?`.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Bryan Ferry, Captain Beefheart, Jim Capaldi, Lee Jackson, Genesis, Byzantium, Denny Cordell, Ronnie Lane, Blue, Nutz, Arthur Brown, Harry Chapin, Groundhogs.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.