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Uriah Heep - Very 'eavy...Very 'umble CD (album) cover

VERY 'EAVY...VERY 'UMBLE

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

3.31 | 304 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Review Thingummy, Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble, Uriah Heep, 1967 StarStarStar In their debut album, Heep show off their mindblowingly-utterly-amazingly-super-amazing singer, David Byron, great organ and guitar parts, and the embrionic status of the heavy progressive rock that they'll move onto by 1971's Look At Yourself album. It is the case, however, that this album would probably have benefited from a bit of touring prior to the album's release to iron out some of the kinks in the music. Occasionally immaturity and weak lyrics drag some of the songs down, and they are rather riff-based at this point, which sometimes turns out badly. The biggest problem of this album, however, is that it is dominated by the truly masterful hard rock song 'Gypsy', while most of the rest is pretty standard, if excellent, heavier blues. Very good fun, but non-essential if you have Gypsy already.

Gypsy is the song that makes the entire album more-than-worthwhile. Great opener, and one that's so powerful that it even makes the rest of the album look unsuccessful. I suspect I may have overplayed it. Great rhythm section, a very strong guitar duo of Ken Hensley and Mick Box, an absolutely stunning performance from David Byron, superb quiet and heavy organ sections, great riff, which doesn't dominate the song too much, and a stunning moment when everything comes together again after the organ interlude. The harmonies, which are often a bit hit and miss for me with Heep (from what I've heard so far: this album, Look At Yourself and the samples on PA), work perfectly. Lyrically, it works. All the adrenaline and passion of the song are intensified by the lyrics. A masterpiece of hard rock.

Walking In Your Shadow is somewhat a step down from this energy. Hugely based on a repetitive guitar riff, rather generic lyrics and uncertain drumming from Paul Newton. David Byron does a great job, but the harmonies, while they are something that defined Heep, just annoy me here.The short break from the riff was a damn good idea, but the execution was lacking, with more of those whiny harmonies. The instrumental break is fairly good, with a decent bit of guitar-work over the riff. The ending is a fairly lame fade. A complete shambles.

Come Away Melinda is a definite step-up, and an example of the band producing something with a lot of potential, even if I feel they went overboard. A nice acoustic side to the band, with mostly gorgeous vocals, tolerable lyrics and lush mellotron additions from Colin Wood. The drums kick in with good effect on the third verse. It is a slight shame that the attempted shift from personal to epic on the third verse is very clumsy, relying on massive harmonies, and extending the last words of each line a bit. The conclusion, however, is alright, and the song as a whole is passable.

Lucy Blues is a laid-back blues (surprise) with an odd, likable piano-and-organ-and-bass theme, with a little variety added by Mick Box's guitar. The instrumental organ section is very neatly done. The vocals are superb, and the ending is nice. The lyrics increase the feel. A very good, relaxed blues song.

Dreammare opens with nice organ fiddling. The other instruments enter quite heavily, and a long guitar chord gives way to the main riff, which is good. The harmony vocals are right on. The guitar soloing over the theme, and the weird whispering in the background, give it a lot of character and quality. A break in the vocals and riff gives way to a superb guitar solo, with occasional stabs from the others. The lyrics are pretty good, certainly above most of the album's attempts to do something lyrically a little more unconventional. The concluding part has more great soloing from Mick Box and David Byron (yes, singers can solo, but I can't exactly describe the difference from normal singing very well) over the harmony. Great song. I guess that the lalalalala partway through could annoy a few people, but not me.

Real Turned On is another heavy blues song, with a good riff, superb vocals and entertaining lyrics, an enjoyable bluesy jam, good use of the bass echoing the main theme, a strong moment for the rhythm section. The ending's chaotic guitar thing is a massive foreshadower for the later Shadows Of Grief, but feels a little out of place here, but the final conclusion, a good bass-and-drums affair, works well. Good song, but could have been polished a little more.

I'll Keep On Trying starts with a classy organ part, and has pretty good drumming. I find the harmonic aa-ah aa-ah... thing, which is repeated a couple of times, somewhat clichéd and annoying. The bass performance here is my sort of basswork, hitting high notes and bursting with energy, and there are some stellar ascending guitar moments as well as a killer riff. Again, amazing lead vocals, really managing the standard 'evil woman' theme with class and individuality. The break is a little slow and light, and only really catches on when the organ kicks in again. A particularly fine moment for the rhythm section. Flawed, but I enjoy it.

Wake Up (Set Your Sights) is a rather awkward song, really, as well as a victim of positioning (it doesn't flow very well from the last song). It is musically mediocre, and lyrically a little more intelligent than most of the other things on the album. However, the lyrics are very often cringeworthy and melodramatic, and David Byron's delivery, while the only way it could really be done, increases this. The first half of the song is rather based around the vocals and pretty repetitive and occasionally even cringeworthy. Nonetheless, the second half is great: soft, mainly instrumental, with a mellotron and gentle background vocals. Great ending.

My remaster includes a few bonus tracks, two versions of Gypsy, one version of Come Away Melinda, two versions of Born In A Trunk, one version of Wake Up..., and Bird Of Prey. Of these, one version of Gypsy is just slightly extended, Born In A Trunk is forgettable, or even irritating, depending on mood, though the instrumental version is by miles the better of the two. The BBC session version of Gypsy, however, is pure, unadulterated 'win'. Every bit as good as the original version, with its slightly more energetic guitar part and small vocal improvisation. The version of Come Away Melinda feels a little tentative, but I think that works for the song, the guitar seems to be focussed on a little more, and the harmonies are changed a little, but the differences aren't huge. The first half of Wake Up (SYS) works a bit better than the one included on the album, the second half is still good, but maybe not *as good* as the one included on the album.

Bird Of Prey is simply a great song, with another stunning vocal performance, a couple of nice sarcastic harmonies, decent lyrics that work very well in the song, an excellent guitar solo (really, ignore my comments on guitar solos, I usually like them) over a killer riff. I love it to pieces.

In the end, a lot of talent, some great playing from Mick Box, stunning vocals, but the album has a lot of times when the flaws of a song have simply not been ironed out. Worth the price if only for Gypsy, even if the rest of the album doesn't really hit the same high. Generally, good work, but often flawed.

Favourite tracks: Gypsy, Gypsy and Gypsy Rating: Three Stars.

Revision: Down to 2; other than the classic Gypsy, hard to really recommend anything off this as threatening or top-notch.

TGM: Orb | 2/5 |

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