Review Summary: A band coming into its own.
Experimentation is just one of the reasons that made ‘60s and ‘70s (and ‘90s for that matter) music so special. Releasing the same album twice was considered a sign of stagnation, and from the more well-known bands to the lesser-known ones, everyone was trying to move forward and experiment with their sound. Uriah Heep’s debut was a powerful release, but it contained more or less everything that these guys were doing until then, which relied heavily on their influences. So on Salisbury
, what we hear is a band trying to find their niche by developing the Vanilla Fudge-inspired heavy rock of its debut. Salisbury
, also marks Ken Hensley’s increased role to the songwriting department; compared to ...Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble
where his name doesn’t appear at all in the writing credits, half of this LP’s songs are attributed solely to him, while the rest of them feature contributions from the multi-talented keyboard player.
Going back to the “experimentation” element, no song on here fits the bill more than the grandiose and pompous title track. A 16-minute epic with various sequences, it’s Uriah Heep’s attempt to produce something different but influenced by what Deep Purple did on Concerto for Group and Orchestra
. Featuring a 24-piece orchestra, brass and woodwind instruments, it sometimes meanders but, overall, is quite driven and has a cinematic feeling. However, Salisbury’s
adventurous nature is also the reason that as a whole, it is a bit across the board. For example, album opener “Bird of Prey” is one the heaviest tracks on here – quite natural as it can also be found on the US version of ...Very 'Eavy ...Very 'Umble
, as well – and nods to the band’s past. One of the highlights, it also features some multi-step vocal harmonies which are somewhat of a Heep trademark, as well as guitar and keyboard interplay. Time to Live
and High Priestess
are your conventional heavy rock tracks, while on the other side, “The Park” and “Lady in Black” represent the mellower side of the album. “Lady in Black”, a Ken Hensley composition which features vocals by the great keyboard player because David Byron refused to sing it, was dismissed by the rest of the band as being too folky, but after pressure by the producer, it was included in the album and has become a signature Heep song.
is a step forward, and the album that helped the Londoners create an identity which they further developed on their next two releases. It was as if the spirit of the time found its place on the recording, and at the time, it was new and exciting. Perennially forgotten in discussions regarding the greatest ‘70s acts, it is also nice to finally see them get some recognition and hear elements of their music in modern bands like Hallas, Avatarium and Witchwood, among others.