Many more pics and snippets from
Paul Newton's archive
It was three quarters
into the recording of the album that drummer Alex Napier was replaced by
Nigel (Ollie) Olsson, who had been recommended to David Byron by Elton
John. David Byron had been friends with Elton since the days they both
worked for Avenue Records, recording low budget Top Thirty covers, and,
now, with the bespectacled one's first album completed, the drummer was
hence free to join Heep and finish the record off. ... VERY 'EAVY ...
VERY 'UMBLE ( packaged differently for the US and simply titled URIAH
HEEP ) was released on June 19, 1970.
Produced by Gerry Bron
and featuring a morbidly gothic cover (the startling face festooned in
cobwebs is in fact that of David Byron), it includes eight tracks that
reflect a greater diversity than given credit for at the time. The
aforementioned 'Gypsy' and 'I'll Keep On Trying', another Box/Byron
composition, were both typical Heep, featuring heavy, earthy guitar
riffs, prominent keyboards and strong vocal harmonies, while 'Wake Up
(Set Your Sights)' had a progressive, King Crimson-like feel.
Overall, it represented
what was happening at the time while seeking to create their own, unique
sound. But it was the heaviness that most picked up on, particularly the
critics whose opinions ranged from "interesting",
"skillful but not particularly original", "a veritable
pain to listen to", to the now infamous Rolling Stone promise that
"If this band makes it I'll commit suicide.
They sound like a third
rate Jethro Tull." Mick Box's reply to that is that nobody in Heep
has ever played flute and that none of the band is capable of standing
on one leg! If anything, ... VERY'EAVY.. VERY'UMBLE baffled most
reviewers, but it certainly had impact! Musically, it was still a very
experimental time for the band but the writing relationship between Box,
Byron and Hensley was beginning to develop. "It was very
quick," recalls Box, "because we were all into the same
It was like it was
meant to be, there was that kind of chemistry." That chemistry is
reflected more with SALISBURY, the band's second album.