Very ‘Umble, Very ‘Eavy (Melody Maker, 1971)

This article was published in Melody Maker on November 27, 1971. The author is unknown.

Very ‘Umble, Very ‘Eavy

Some bands please the rock establishment — some bands please the customers.

Uriah Heep are one of the latter. With a disinclination to bestow approval on what is considered unworthy, the Establishment can be quite unkind to the struggling newcomer.

And it’s true that Heep have a rather corny name, and a reputation for bashing out the proven success formulate of ‘eavy music.

For my own part, having heard 4,380 groups in the past eight years, I found the early work of Heep, Uriah, slightly less than stimulating.

Nevertheless, in the interests of fair play, honour, integrity, and devotion to duty, we hereby present — the URIAH HEEP story.

Or at least — the Ken Hensley story. Ken is the organist and writer and on their current album, there are strong signs that their music is quickly evolving and improving.

Any number of today’s super groups would not like to be judged by their early efforts and now Heep are on the verge of moving out of their original rough and unready bag into more constructive contributions.

They take the business of music most seriously and want to stay around longer than a transient label.

Like most groups, they have built up their reputation in the nation’s smaller clubs, but says Ken: “Clubs get difficult after a while. We have been doing concerts where more people can come and see you and we can’t get them all in at clubs. I suppose you get a bit spoilt after doing concert halls.

“The band has been going for two years now and we’ve all grown up a lot. None of us played together before* the group. I was part of the original concept of the group and before that I was with Toe Fat.”

“I used to be on guitar before I switched to organ. I enjoy playing both instruments. The band is a bit more mature in its approach now. We went through the initial phase of playing exactly what we wanted, but after a while we realised that we have to make a living. But the changes have come naturally. There is a much better feel in the rhythm section for example — not so crash, bash. And there are some acoustic numbers and songs like ‘What Should Be Done’, which is on the album, and gives more light and shade to the act.”

Uriah Heep’s Ken Hensley: We’ve grown up a lot.

What SORT of audiences went to see the violent and frenetic Heep?

“It’s not a college audience. It’s a club audience — between fifteen and nineteen years old. It’s a new generation of audiences, and they definitely know what they want. They want really exciting music, and we try and make it as exciting as possible. And we hope to capture the excitement of our club gigs on albums. It’s the atmosphere of the band as well as the sound.

“We’ve got to the stage where we take the music business very seriously and we want to carry on in it and do the best we can.”

How did the group react to criticism?

“Each member of the band reacts in a different way. It’s often a bit hard to swallow and not always easy to understand. But I don’t get upset.”

And Heep shouldn’t feel too worried in view of the massive tours lined up for them in England in December and around the rest of the world. “We’ve got a really heavy schedule between now and next January. We’ve got an English tour in December and we’ve got our first headline tour of the States in January. We are also playing in Italy and later in Japan and Australia.”

They also have no less than two current chart hit in Germany, “one of our biggest markets.”

“We definitely want to move on. We want to stay together and use the group to its fullest possible extent and develop so that it becomes lasting. We’re fortunate in that we have had some degree of success and that has helped keep us going. I’ve been in plenty of groups myself, like the Gods with Mick Taylor, which folded when Mick joined Mayall. So that was a bit of a disappointment.

Ken wants to do a solo album sometime: “Playing heavy music is so tremendously draining. I’d like to get into lighter music myself. But we’ll be incredibly busy right until August next year.”

© Melody Maker, 1971

* This article was published on the day when Uriah Heep’s line-up changed: Ian Clarke and Paul Newton (who also played with Ken in The Gods) left the band, Lee Kerslake (another ex-Gods member) and Mark Clarke joined. 

Author: Elena Stepanova

This post is also available in: Russian

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