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URIAH HEEP

Uriah Heep

Heavy Prog


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Easy Livin
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Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Very 'eavy , very 'umble

Uriah Heep's first album, "Very 'eavy , very 'umble" was not released in the US under that title. Presumably this was because of the Cockney/Dickensian connections which would not have been so meaningful to those outwith the UK. Instead, it was released with a different sleeve and simply titled "Uriah Heep".

The track listing is the same, except that "Lucy Blues" is dropped in favour of "Bird of prey". Since "Lucy blues" was the weakest track on VEVU, being a somewhat out of place blues rendition, the revision does represent an improvement.

The version of "Bird of prey" included here is different to the one which appeared on the UK version of "Salisbury". (Despite this, it was in turn replaced on the US version of "Salisbury" by the single B side "Simon the bullet freak"). While the "Salisbury" version sees the track being developed well, the slightly rawer earlier version here is well worth hearing.

The opening track, "Gypsy" is indeed "heavy", with a driving Hammond organ, a thumping beat, and an early burst of Mick Box's famous wah wah guitar soloing. There are however several decidedly softer moments. "Come away Melinda" (also recorded by UFO) is one of the very few covers the band has done. Their interpretation is quite stunning, with David Byron adopting various vocal sounds to distinguish between the two characters in the song. It's a beautiful, haunting number, with a peaceful message. "Wake up (set your sights)" also has a lovely soft conclusion which follows an almost jazz like opening section.

The remaining numbers generally fall into the " 'eavy" category, with tracks like "I'll keep on trying" and "Dreammare" setting out the band's stall for future albums perfectly.

There was better to come from the band, but this is a high quality first offering, with some excellent tracks.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#31430)
Posted Wednesday, September 08, 2004 | Review Permalink
semismart
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It was June of 1970 and a new English band, with the funny name borrowed from one of the unsavory villains in Dicken's classic novel David Copperfield, came on the scene with their new/old sound. Curiously their music seemed to be dichotomy of complex simplicity. Upon analysis, their seemingly intricate music breaks down into uncomplicated hooks and refrains that present day, so called garage bands could learn a few things from.

Another interesting thing about this album is many Prog Heads (Aficionados of the progressive genre of music)consider this album was the seminal progressive rock/metal recording. Though Uriah Heep's debut is obviously a hard rock/heavy metal masterpiece it has progressive elements which sewed the seeds of the future progressive movement. You say, yes but Pink Floyd was around and recording three years prior to to Heep. True but many feel early Floyd music was more psychedelic than progressive. What's the difference? I don't know but that's just one of the many points of discussion in this most ambiguous of musical genres.

The musical signature of Uriah Heep is unmistakable with a throbbing beat of organ and guitars and the capable vocals David Byron and back up vocals of the entire band and dark songs in an almost spooky vein. Many of the songs like "Gypsy, "Bird of Prey" and "Dreammare", even exude a raw sexuality. Something that has been overlooked through the years is just how good and versatile these musicians were.

"Gypsy" "I was only seventeen I fell in love with a gypsy queen She told me: "Hold on" Her father was the leading man Said: "You're not welcome on our land" And then as a foe, he told me to go"

As simple as "Louie Louie" but with an enormously complicated bridge by master keyboardist Ken Hensley, this six and a half minute mostly medium paced number suddenly stops dead in the middle, then continues its swirling organ and guitar virtuosic cacophony to completion, a true gem.

"Walking in Your Shadow" "I'm walking in your shadow Ever since you went away And the clock on the wall Really hasn't very much to say Oh, you left me bleeding And left me needing you"

Another interesting medium paced song, albeit a bit tamer. "Walking in your Shadow" is another very simple song with in this case, the occasional guitar gingerbread.

"Come Away Melinda" "Daddy, daddy, come and look See what I have found A little ways away from here While digging in the ground

Come away Melinda Come in and close the door It's nothing, just a picture-book They had before the war"

It is a rare ballad that can get my attention and "Come Away Melinda" is indeed rare. The instrumentation is minimal on this ethereal melancholy song by Heep which is simply elegant, simply beautiful and Byron does a simply masterful job on the vocals.

"Bird of Prey" "I can see that look that says beware Try to move in closer if you dare So I will sit and play my waiting game And for a while I know She’ll do the same Oh no!"

This medium fast song gives us our first glimpse of a Heep trademark, the soaring background vocals by the band. As the name and lyrics implies the song has an ominous timbre however the melody and background vocals are quite compelling.

"Dreammare" "Grinning demons, smiling sideways Laughing in my face Here within my troubled sleep There’s such a lonely place Running fast but never moving I can’t get away Strange but realistic objects Making me their prey"

Almost like a bookend to "Bird of Prey" "Dreammare" is every bit as ominous though a bit slower. Again we have have great background vocals a reverberated lead vocal and some great wa wa guitars. My personal favorite.

"Real Turned On" "Girl, before you go now There's one thing I wanted to do That's get you to come back Because I wanna make love to you

Got me real turned on Yes, you have"

For me, this is the least impressive song. "Real Turned On" has a nice medium paced beat but is features a discordant guitar throughout, which I found annoying.

"I'll Keep on Trying" "You came to me With all of your lies And I was taken in so well It took me quite a time To see the disguise"

Another goody! This one has a variable tempo with a typical Heep overpowering guitar and organ bridge and of course the signature choir (bandmembers). This five and a half minute number is another gem.

"Wake Up" "Wake up, set your sights For never shall we fail Stand up for your rights And justice will prevail

You're listening Through endless nights And decision is your goal So wake up, set your sights"

On this six minute plus number, I don't care much for the jazzy beginning but the back half makes up for it with a total change of pace to a pace more like track 3, The ethereal ballad "Come Away Melinda", a great ending. Again Byrons vocals are sublime.

CONCLUSION

Probably nothing new for the period but Uriah Heeps's obvious strength is picking out simple melodies and playing with and strengthening them with superb guitar and keyboard playing. Also as I mentioned the soaring harmonic background vocals by the band helped give the band a hook that many others were lacking.

It is a shame that these strengths which I have listed, other than guitar, with minor exceptions are not evident in most bands of today. If a band has keyboard player, which most don't, his or her role has been diminished and the signature background vocals that Heep utilized with such flair, also seem to be de-emphasized.

Uriah Heep were never really a headline band. Yes they had their die hard fans, still do, but they were never close to the big bands of the day. I even saw them live once in a dance bar format. (attendance probably two hundred) That is too bad, for I always felt their early music was very strong and deserved more attention but then again I feel the same about many bands.

In summary, Uriah Heep's self titled debut was certainly an excellent beginning and the good news is the best was yet to come.

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Send comments to semismart (BETA) | Report this review (#31432)
Posted Friday, February 04, 2005 | Review Permalink
Eetu Pellonpää
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This album is a nice artifact for collectors living out of United States. The album covers are in my opinion more tasteful here, and "The Bird of Prey" is featured in it instead of the lousy "Lucy Blues". The opener "Gypsy" is a hard rocking anthem, and especially "Come Away Melinda" is a wonderful mellotron driven ballad. Other picks: Jazzy "Wake Up" and "Dreammare".

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Send comments to Eetu Pellonpää (BETA) | Report this review (#31433)
Posted Sunday, April 03, 2005 | Review Permalink
ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I discovered the Heep in 1973 with "The Magician's Birthday" and I really liked that band. Their hard rock with a special care for keyboards was quite original (although it sounded a bit like Purple). The core trio Byron (RIP), Hensley and Box is already in place which is a guarantee for quality.

The opening track "Gipsy" is absolutely gorgeous : strong vocals from Byron and incredible keyboards by Hensley. One of their best song ever that passes the proof of time very well. All the magic of the Heep is there : powerful lead vocals, great riff, strong instrumental parts and great harmonies. The final part of the song is really intricate.

It is not the case with the next track "Walking In Your Shadow", a post-psychedelic number which sounds quite outdated (this one particularly sounds as a "Mark I" song). Its only interesting feature IMO. But more similitudes will appear in their later works.

The mellow and quiet "Come Away Melinda" is an astonishing and surprising break : smooth mellotron, flute ... almost prog my friend ! At times, Byron sounds as Evans (again, "Mark I" ...).

On this US release, we'll get the fantastic "Birth Of Prey" : a wild hard-rock tune, with incredibly subtle, high and sublime vocals (it seems that Byron has switched from Evans to Gillan if you see what I mean...). Guitar and bass are outrageous. The second highlight and definitely a great Heep classic.

"Dreammare" is a bit in the same vein but less well achieved. Good hard-rock (even flirting with heavy sounds) all the way through. "Real Turned on" is 100% hard rock oriented and little inspired. It is the weakest number together with "Melinda".

"I'll Keep On Trying" is again a solid track with nice vocal arrangements and interesting rythm changes between hard-rock and prog moments (around 2'30" for example). Mick Box does a good job here. This track features all the element a good Heep song must have. Very nice song, (one more) on this very good album.

"Wake Up" is another highlight. Very good and emotional vocals from Byron (but that's the Heep's trademark, right) ? It is the most complex song of the album and probably one of the few that could be related to prog (together with "Come Away Melinda"). At times, it reminds me of "Epitaph" (not too bad a reference).

The core of the what the Heep will release is already present in this first effort, it is not too often the case that a first album is so close to what the band will deliver afterwards so, it needs to be mentioned. This album has passed remarkably the proof of time (IMO at least). They will confirm this great debut album during several releases. All in all a very good first effort from the Heep.

A stupid Rolling Stone journalist (Melissa Mills) will write the following review for this album. I will write my comments into brackets: "If this group makes it, I'll have to commit suicide (you'd better have done it before your review). From the first note you know what you don't want to hear any more. Uriah is watered down, tenth-rate Jethro Tull, only even more boring and inane. UH is composed of five members : vocals, organ, guitar, bass and drums (do you know that these are not names, but instruments) ? They fail to create a distinctive sound tonality; the other factor in their uninteresting style is that their play is based on repetitive chord riffs".

And she goes on : "According to the enclosed promo information, UH spent the past year in the studio, rehearsing and writting songs. No doubt their lack of performing experience contributed to the quality of the record; if they had played live in clubs they would have been thrown off the stage and we'd have been saved the waste of this record". (Ever heard of Uriah Heep Live) ?

I hope that she was sacked a few weeks after his ridiculous review (or maybe she did what she said, committing suicide)!

Four stars for this encouraging debut album.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#112522)
Posted Saturday, February 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This was basically a US version of Uriah Heep debut album Very Eavy Very Umble.

Who on earth in the glory days of seventies has never heard that opening lyrical part of "Gypsy" that became a true rocking yell at the time? If any, they should switch the time tunnel going back to the seventies and purchased the LP of this album. Yeah, it's better because this song from a debut album of Uriah Heep whom just transformed themselves from Spice really took the rock industry by the storm, if I may say it. You bet, it was not as so popular as Deep Purple's "Child In Time" but it was so phenomenal for rock freaks at that time. As for my case I only knew this song when the band released the Live 73 album. In fact this song was the best out of all tracks featured in the double-LP set and I always kept repeating it when I played it. The studio version is of course different with the live one but it still get the energy and enthusiasm required by rock music even though there is no improvised organ work and drum solo. The song opens with a rough-edge keyboard/ organ work combined later with distorted guitar work unique to Mick Box and Olsson's dynamic drumming. It then follows with a very nice riffs (memorable too) which brings the first lyrical part. Yeah man . so rocking and I like it very much! Ken Hensley provides a distinctive distorted organ solo which later characterized Heep sound.

The following track "Walking In Your Shadows" (4:31) is a song with a simple riffs and good melody. The riffs are typical for any band that nowadays we call it as classic rock. "Come Away Melinda" by Hellerman/ Minkof was once a top radio hit in my country and became the trademark of the band whenever we hear this song or "July Morning". I remember vividly how once my friend compared this song with King Crimson's "I Talk To The Wind" or "Epitaph". It's a well composed song in mellow style with sweet vocal- a feature for the softer side of David's voice. The song tells basically a conversation between a father and his young daughter whose mother has died in the war.

"Lucy Blues" (5:09) as the title implies is a blues based song composition. It's unsusual that Heep has ever written this song. But remember that this was a debut album where typically any band would not firm yet with their music format. At that time it's hard to find any band that did not venture their music into blues because it also happened with Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin. It's good to now that Heep has ever created this blues song which is very enjoyable even though it did not turn out to be the hit of Heep then. Hensley plays differently with his organ during interlude.

"Dreammare" (4:39) was written by Paul Newton (bass) which the title combines drem and nightmare. It has soft organ solo at the opening followed with driving rhythm which brings the song into ballad rock with distorted and hard-edge guitar solo. "Real Turned On" (3:37) is a good track with rock 'n' blues style and great distorted guitar sounds. During interlude part there are two guitars used - one presumably be played by Ken Hensley.

"I'll Keep On trying" (5:24) is a song I never pay attention until I watched the Magician's Birthday Party DVD in which this song was performed excellently. Characterized mainly by Hensley's Hammond organ and wonderful choirs "aaa . aaa .aaa ..aaa" which characterizes Heep sound, this song flows excellently from start to end. This song also features stunning combination of hard-edge guitar solo and Hammond solo with powerful voice of David Byron. It's a beautifully composed song.

"Wake Up (Set Your Sights)" (6:22) is different from other songs of Heep as it blends the components of jazz music into its composition. It reminds me to the music of Collosseum. The structure and composition can be considered as prog music as it combines jazz rock upbeat music with silent and explorative segments in the middle of the track. It's truly an excellent track.

This is an excellent addition to any prog / rock music collection.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#157234)
Posted Monday, December 31, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Progressive rock tres Heavy hard rock, extremement interessant, by his(her,its) game(set,play) of clavier. The Singing(Song) is plaçé tres height, tranchantes guitars the sound is strong, the sublime melodies one can say here that this album is a jewel. Gypsy offer all this has the perfection, there is everything, progressive break(break dance) are to leger but effective, leaving place(square) with Heavy. Walking in Your Shadow is much cooler. Come Away Melinda is a magnificent ballad with a mellotron and a voice(vote) so sweet, guitar seche, a true enjoyment, one of the more beautiful song of the group, certainly the sweetest. This album bizarrely is not the most known for the group but the fact left the best I' ll Keep one Trying a sound indeed to the group once again, thank you uriah Heep.

However it seems to me that this album was republished under under a different name Very ' Eavy... Very ' Umble order and different titles(securities) with additions. The influences are of all kinds, and if the progressive Rock is suffocated(suppressed) here by the sound Heavy

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Send comments to Discographia (BETA) | Report this review (#226719)
Posted Tuesday, July 14, 2009 | Review Permalink
baz91
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Ah, the complications of the music industry. Uriah Heep's debut album 'Very 'eavy ... Very 'umble' was released in the US nearly a year after it was released in the UK, although this time it was an eponymous debut and had a slightly different tracklisting. To be precise, Lucy Blues, a 5 minute bluesy piece, had been swapped for Bird Of Prey, the opener of the band's next UK album 'Salisbury'. Because of this, the US version of 'Salisbury' had to swap Bird Of Prey for Simon The Bullet Freak, but that's another story.

As I explained in my review of 'Very 'eavy ... Very 'umble', this is a weak debut album with just a couple of strong tracks. However, the inclusion of Bird Of Prey brings that number up to three. This heavy rocker has a very strong main riff, and a slightly progressive feel, due to the thematic change ¾ of the way through the song. The 'oo's and 'ah's towards the end of the song are quite silly, but that's all part of the fun of this track. If I had to question one thing, it's Byron's high pitched vibrato at the end of each line. This man certainly has a unique voice, and in the US album version he seems to have more power and control over it than in the UK album version.

In all honesty, I prefer the cobwebbed David Byron to the hellish snake thing on the cover. The UK album cover has more colour and interest and creativity than the drawing that could have come from anywhere. The US cover simply doesn't fit the music.

Because this is practically the same album, I feel like giving it the same rating. The pros and cons of the US version cancel each other out, and being British, I'd have always gone for the UK version anyway. The deluxe Sanctuary remaster of 'Very 'eavy ... Very 'umble' has all the tracks from both albums, and both sets of artwork, so you can get two albums in one essentially!

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Send comments to baz91 (BETA) | Report this review (#515880)
Posted Monday, September 05, 2011 | Review Permalink
AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars This debut for massive organ and guitar riffing giants Uriah Heep is the same as "Very 'Eavy and Very 'Umble" apart from one track which is 'Bird of Prey', marginally better than 'Lucy Blues'. The US front cover is just as nasty but I prefer this artwork than the cobwebbed freak on "VEVU". David Byron is a fantastic presence on this debut from massive Uriah Heep legends. One has to admire the sheer ferocity of the music with stabbing staccato blasts from Ken Hensley's organ and Mick Box's soaring lead guitar finesse. The rhythm machine of Paul Newton's bass and Ollie Olsson's percussion completed the sound. This is the album that unleashed the awesome power of the Heep.

It begins brilliantly with the crunching chords of 'Gypsy'. The way this hammers along with a blitzkrieg or grinding keyboards is a delight. Byron's vibrato compete beautifully with the distorted guitars and there is an amazing instrumental break. The brilliant unbeatable killer riff and hammering organ are incredible. Hensley's organ is aggressive, banging down massive chords, runs and fast frenetic sweeps. All the time the guitar is hypnotic with its two note metal distortion. It suddenly stops and a small sound of shimmering organ can be heard. Then it builds back to the monster riff and then Box has a turn. The lead break is cut short with another verse. Byron is sensational on vocals and the riff continues as he finishes the song off. An absolute masterpiece song ends with a bass, guitar, organ and drum frenzy freak out. The music sounds as though it has been put through a meat grinder. This is proto metal at its best.

Next is 'Walking In Your Shadow' with some heavy riffing from Box followed by acoustic beauty on 'Come Away Melinda'. 'Bird of Prey' is rawer than the version that appears on "Salisbury" but still very good, and 'Dreammare' returns to the heavy prog vibe. Perhaps the proggiest moments are found on the very weird 'Wake Up (Set Your Sights)', but this certainly is not the best that Heep could produce. That was yet to come, but as a debut for a new band, this was an album full of stellar tracks and worth seeking out, whether you get this, the US version or the UK, Heep stamped their authority as heavy hard driving rock never to be ignored.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#613120)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | Review Permalink

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