Uriah Heep
Uriah Heep - Official Web Site



January 1970 - February 1970


Ken Hensley, Mick Box, Paul Newton, David Byron, Nigel "Ollie" Olsson.

Many more pics and snippets from Paul Newton's archive here

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 things. 

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.

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