Critics can often be mistaken and their quotes, forever, will be remembered by fans alike, combined with thoughts like oh boy, they couldn’t be more wrong. For example, Soundi Magazine described NIGHTWISH‘s demo back in the day as a band that would never have commercial potential and… look at where they are right now. In the case of the legendary British hard rock act URIAH HEEP, Rolling Stone‘s Melissa Mills began her review with the iconic words: “If this group makes it I’ll have to commit suicide. From the first note, you know you don’t want to hear any more.” Now, we may not know what happened to Melissa Mills, but we do know that 50 years later, URIAH HEEP is still actively producing top-notch albums, touring the world, and right now, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their debut album “Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble,” the album that had an incredible influence on heavy metal as a genre.
Considering the time “Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble” was written in, the opener “Gypsy,” one of the most iconic songs from the band, was very heavy and advanced for its time; probably even one of the heaviest songs 1970 had to offer. While bands like BLACK SABBATH focused more on atmospheric, dark riffs with an overall dark and heavy vibe from songwriting to lyrics, URIAH HEEP mixed genres such as progressive rock, heavy blues, and hard rock, thus creating a unique blend of rock music. This resulted in a very diverse debut album, from the classic rock-oriented “Walking in Your Shadow” to the bluesy “Lucy Blues,” the album is eclectic in its nature, something part of the zeitgeist. “Dreammare” takes a classic rock approach, but is infused with psychedelic elements. “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)” has an incredible jazzy atmosphere and even includes walking bass and is one of the highlights of this album. The American version also includes the powerful “Bird of Prey,” which grew out to be one of URIAH HEEP‘s all-time hits.
The mainstream press may not have embraced URIAH HEEP‘s debut very well, but 50 years later, the album is still relevant to anyone who likes hard rock and heavy metal. Moreover, it turned out to be the start of a very rich career in hard rock music. If you’re new to the band’s vast discography, then this is a great place to start your listening journey, a mandatory stop on every self-respecting rocker’s musical quest, and an instant classic that is still enjoyable in 2020.
- Walking in Your Shadow
- Come Away Melinda
- Lucy Blues
- Real Turned On
- I’ll Keep on Trying
- Wake Up (Set Your Sights)
David Byron – lead vocals
Ken Hensley – piano, organ, mellotron, slide guitar, vocals (except “Come Away Melinda” and “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)”)
Mick Box – lead and acoustic guitars, vocals
Paul Newton – bass guitar, vocals
Alex Napier – drums (except “Lucy Blues”, “Dreammare” and “Bird of Prey”)
Nigel Olsson – drums on “Lucy Blues” and “Dreammare”
Keith Baker – drums on “Bird of Prey”
Colin Wood – keyboards on “Come Away Melinda” and “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)”