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Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in London in 1969 and are regarded as one of the seminal hard rock acts of the early 1970s. Uriah Heep's progressive/art rock/heavy metal fusion's distinctive features have always been massive keyboards sound, strong vocal harmonies and (in the early years) David Byron's quasi-operatic vocals. The band's origins go back to 1967 when guitarist Mick Box formed in Brentwood a band called The Stalkers which started playing in local clubs and pubs. When the band's singer left, drummer Roger Penlington suggested his cousin David Garrick (who knew t ...read more

Uriah Heep are an English rock band formed in London in 1969 and are regarded as one of the seminal hard rock acts of the early 1970s. Uriah Heep's progressive/art rock/heavy metal fusion's distinctive features have always been massive keyboards sound, strong vocal harmonies and (in the early years) David Byron's quasi-operatic vocals. The band's origins go back to 1967 when guitarist Mick Box formed in Brentwood a band called The Stalkers which started playing in local clubs and pubs. When the band's singer left, drummer Roger Penlington suggested his cousin David Garrick (who knew the band) as a replacement. Box and Garrick instantly formed a songwriting partnership and, having higher musical aspirations than their colleagues, decided to give up their day jobs and go professional. They set up a new band called Spice; then, David Garrick changed his second name to Byron. Drummer Alex Napier joined, having answered a music paper ad and bassist Paul Newton of The Gods completed the line-up. Their debut album, ...Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble (released as Uriah Heep in the United States), introduced Hensley's heavy organ and guitar-driven sound, with David Byron's theatrical, dynamic vocals soaring above thunderous sonic backgrounds, although acoustic and jazz elements also featured in the mix. The album's title references the signature phrase of the Dickens character Uriah Heep ("very 'umble") from the novel David Copperfield from which the band took its name. The band's second album Salisbury was more squarely in the progressive rock genre, with its 16-minute title track featuring a 24-piece orchestra. One of the album's tracks, "Lady in Black", described as "a stylishly arranged tune that builds from a folk-styled acoustic tune into a throbbing rocker full of ghostly harmonies and crunching guitar riffs", became a big hit in Germany. The third album, Look at Yourself, released in October 1971, marked the solidification of disparate ideas that had been a prominent feature of Salisbury and presented the unified sound and direction. Among the stand-outs were the title track,"Tears In My Eyes" and "July Morning", an epic which Heep fans regard as equal to Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" and Deep Purple's "Child in Time". The band's 4th album, entitled Demons and Wizards, solidified Uriah Heep's reputation as a master of gothic- inflected heavy metal. Uriah Heep's fifth studio album The Magician's Birthday charted #28 in the UK and #31 in the USA. The solid, but rather mainstream-sounding Sweet Freedom (#18 UK, No. 33 USA) was created with "Stealin'" released as a single. Having gained the world-wide recognition,the band quit the fantasy world in lyrics and made an obvious stab at versatility by adding funk ("Dreamer") and acoustic folk ("Circus") elements to the palette. Wonderworld (1974) proved to be a disappointment to both fans and band members alike. "Recording abroad disrupted the band's normal method of operation, and that had a big negative effect on the group". John Wetton (ex-Family and King Crimson) joined the band and with him Return to Fantasy was recorded; representing a revitalized Uriah Heep, it soared up to No. 7 in the UK. High and Mighty, which followed in June 1976, was considered lightweight; even in Box's assessment, "less of the 'eavy and more of the 'umble". In July 1976, after the final show of a Spanish tour, Byron was sacked. Soon bassist JohnWetton announced he was quitting. Firefly was released in February 1977, displaying "renewed effervescence and energy in unveiling what was clearly a new beginning for Heep". Innocent Victim, released in November 1977, "had a slight edge on Firefly", according to Box, but still in retrospect, this "blend of sharp, short rockers and pop-friendly ballads" looked like "an attempt to court the American AOR market". In the end of 1978 Fallen Angel came out, having completed a hat-trick of studio albums to feature a consistent lineup (only the second time in their career that they had done so). "Too poppy" for Mick Box’ liking (but still,"too eccentric to fit the bill of an AOR record", according to Allmusic), it was well received at the time (Sounds gave it 4 stars) but failed to chart. Conquest was released in February 1980 and received 5 stars from Record Mirror, but, according to Box, "was a difficult album to record" and represented "a confused Heep". The Abominog (1982) album (according to Blows) was "important…in the way it pulled Heep out of the Seventies and thrust them into the Eighties with determination muscle". Head First (1983), produced again by Ashley Howe (who, according to Goalby, became "like the sixth member of the band"), followed much in the same vein, pursuing (according to AllMusic) "a similar combination of heavy metal firepower and AOR sleekness". Not long before its release, Daisley left the band to return to Ozzy Osbourne and Trevor Bolder re-joined Uriah Heep. Meanwhile, David Byron died of a heart attack and liver disease on 28 February 1985 at the age of 38. Equator (1985) sold poorly, due to the fact that "CBS just did a terrible job getting it into the shops," as Box saw it. Then John Sinclair quit, deciding to join Ozzy Osbourne and keyboardistPhil Lanzon (Grand Prix,SadCafé) came in to fit in immediately into the Box-envisaged scheme of things. American singer Steff Fontaine, formerly of Christian metal band Joshua, joined, but he was criticized for being totally "unprofessional" (he missed, for some reason, a San Francisco gig) and was sacked after just one American tour. Fontaine's position was offered then to ex-Grand Prix, Praying Mantis and Stratus vocalist Bernie Shaw, and that in retrospect proved to be a winning move. Shaw "felt honoured at being invited to join such a legendary band" while for Box "it was like everything falling into place". The lineup remained unchanged from 1986 until 2007, being veteran Mick Box at the helm, Trevor Bolder on bass, Lee Kerslake on drums, vocalist Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon on keyboards. Raging Silence, produced by Richard Dodd and released in May 1989, was followed by a return to the Soviet Union, concerts in Poland, East Berlin, six dates in Brazil and another British tour. Different World got a mixed reception from the press and sold poorly. The Sea of Light album (1995) produced by the band along with Kalle Trapp was well received and in retrospect is seen as the band's return to form. Sonic Origami had "a grand, epic tone throughout" that, according to rock critic Steve Huey, "doesn't always match Uriah Heep's journeyman-sounding prog-tinged hard rock". In early 2007, drummer Lee Kerslake had to leave the group due to ill health. In March of that year the band recruited Russell Gilbrook as their new drummer and immediately started recording a new studio album entitled Wake the Sleeper, where they used double drums in the songs "Wake the Sleeper" and "War Child". Uriah Heep released their 23rd studio album Into the Wild on 15 April 2011 in Europe (3 May in North America) via Frontiers Records. Bassist Trevor Bolder died on 21 May 2013 after suffering from pancreatic cancer. He was 62 years old. The band has since released two more studio albums, 2014's Outsider, and 2018's Living the Dream. « hide

Similar Bands: Deep Purple, Rainbow, Ten Years After, Wishbone Ash, Nazareth

LPs
Living The Dream
2018

3.7
17 Votes
Outsider
2014

3.2
55 Votes
Into the Wild
2011

3.2
52 Votes
Wake the Sleeper
2008

3.3
52 Votes
Sonic Origami
1998

3.1
43 Votes
Sea of Light
1995

3.6
52 Votes
Different World
1991

2.3
42 Votes
Raging Silence
1989

2.4
39 Votes
Equator
1985

2.3
47 Votes
Head First
1983

2.9
45 Votes
Abominog
1982

3.8
63 Votes
Conquest
1980

3
39 Votes
Fallen Angel
1978

3
52 Votes
Innocent Victim
1977

2.9
49 Votes
Firefly
1977

3.4
58 Votes
High and Mighty
1976

2.9
51 Votes
Return to Fantasy
1975

3.3
54 Votes
Wonderworld
1974

3.5
58 Votes
Sweet Freedom
1973

3.7
75 Votes
The Magician's Birthday
1972

4.1
151 Votes
Demons and Wizards
1972

4.2
298 Votes
Look At Yourself
1971

4.1
163 Votes
Salisbury
1971

4.1
146 Votes
Very 'eavy... Very 'umble
1970

3.9
130 Votes
Live Albums
Live at Koko
2015

4
2 Votes
Spellbinder
1996

2.5
4 Votes
Live In Moscow
1987

2.4
5 Votes
Live In Europe 1979
1986

3.8
2 Votes
Uriah Heep Live
1973

4.2
16 Votes
Compilations
Celebration
2009

2.9
8 Votes
The Collection
1989

4.2
5 Votes
The Best of Uriah Heep
1976

3.6
6 Votes
Uriah Heep
1970

3.8
40 Votes

Contributors: Divaman, Britch2tiger, Mad., danielcardoso, rockandmetaljunkie, burntsugar, Nagrarok, DruggieDougie, newWorld, danielcardoso, Pokermask, rockandmetaljunkie, Nagrarok, Virium,

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