Ollie Olsson had
defected back to the Elton John camp once again, in response to John's
debut album taking off in the States, and had been replaced by Keith
Once again produced by
Gerry Bron at Lansdowne,is significant for its songwriting development (
Hensley writes half and co-writes the other half), and for its
diversity. First there's 'Bird of Prey', all climactic build up with
lots of high notes from Byron, then the 'Lady in Black' single, an
appropriately Euro-sounding ditty that subsequently became a gigantic
hit in Germany upon its re-release in 1977, earning the band the Golden
Lion award (the European equivalent of a Grammy) for its thirteen week
stay at No. 1.
But ultimately the
album's highlight is its title track, a 16 minute 22 second epic that
represents a musical potpourri with its keyboards, brass, woodwind and
orchestral parts, all creating a wealth of colour and substance as the
track explores uncharted territory for the band at that point in time.
It's possibly still the most musically ambitious thing that Heep have
The British press to a
large extent remained deaf to the band's musical qualities, remaining
preoccupied with the heavier side of their character. SALISBURY's
diversity stems from a search to find a proper musical identity, though
Hensley's later reflection that "all we knew in those days was that
we wanted to play loud rock and roll music" is perhaps a little
dismissive of the ambiances and nuances that made Heep stand out from
the rest of the hard rock pack. Following SALISBURY it was Keith Baker's
turn to leave the band.
"I never quite
knew what happened to him." says Box, and the question of whether
he spontaneously combusted in true Spinal Tap fashion is one that
remains unanswered to this day.