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'Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble' (2CD) plus 'Your Turn To Remember: The Definitive Anthology 1970-1990 (2CD)' out on BMG 30th September 2016

Joe Geesin

joe geesin

uriah heep

With newly announced tour dates (here), these two new reissues kick off a re-release campaign by the bastions of British hard rock, Uriah Heep. Compiled more times than badly written machine code, the catalogue has been given a fair working over the years but this campaign includes a bigger and more comprehensive expansion with a plethora of previously unreleased material and extensive quote ridden sleevenotes.

Uriah Heep have been rocking all over the world for 46 years now and are still going strong. Back in the early to mid 70s, their heyday, alongside Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath they were one of the Big Four (Britain got there first, Moshers) back when classic rock with a progressive or blues leaning ruled both global stage and airwaves.

Fronted by guitarist Mick Box, founder member and the man with the perennial grin, the band have seen more line-ups than Scotland Yard and to coincide with the forthcoming tour the release of the 1970 debut 'Very 'Eavy … Very 'Umble' kicks off this campaign and no matter how many times it's been released it will always be a shining light in the rock catalogue.

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Originally a four piece called Spice, the band had already recorded half of their debut before expanding their sound with Toe Fat pianist Ken Hensley, a former colleague of bassist Paul Newton in The Gods. Changing their name to the Dickensian character from book David Copperfield, the album's title would allude to his humble proclamations.

The debut opens with 'Gypsy', instantly recognisable by Mick Box's riff work and Hensley's heavy organ grinding with the track further bolstered by David Byron's theatrical and near operatic vocals. 'Walking In Your Shadows' is a drier track and the more whimsical 'Come Away Melinda' is an acoustic ballad while 'Lucy Blues' is a solid nod to the British Blues Boom of a few years earlier.

There's many a solid riff and blistering solo with the Uriah Heep sound mixing guitar and keyboard equally. Organ grinding indeed.

The album, while a classic with many a great track and live favourite (notably 'Gypsy'), is from a time when the band were still finding their way and settling with the constant line-up changes but despite this, it's essential listening.

uriah heep

Disc 2 contains previously unreleased tracks making up an alternate album. There's an edit or two in there too and it's interesting to hear with some great stuff here for the completist and collector and the extensive booklet with contribution from Mick Box certainly adds a lot more value.

The double disc compilation is, certainly for the more casual listener, essential listening. While the market has in the past been flooded with compilations, this one does a better job than most.

This covers a good spread of Heep's career from 'Gypsy' from the debut to 'Lady In Black' and the surprise hit 'Easy Livin'' and 'Look At Yourself', a real organ and guitar thrash. The highlight is 'Return To Fantasy' from the album of the same name, a track the band opened their 2000 tour setlist with.

The late 70s John Lawton fronted era is well represented with 'Free n' Easy' and 'Free Me', and both tracks have powerful and clean vocals with a solid range yet less operatic as the band moved away from the progressive and blues roots and more into a mainstream hard rock direction.

1980s 'Conquest' saw turmoil in Camp Heep. With vocalist John Sloman on board, this was far from a bad record that is often said, very underrated, and 'No Return' is well worth a listen.

Further changes occurred with Hensley leaving and new vocalist Pete Goalby coming in and 'Abominog' is another solid record. Check out 'Too Scared To Run' for a good example. 'Head First' and 1985s 'Equator' continued the commercial direction and as you can see here there's some great music. By now Bernie Shaw and Phil Lanzon were on board and 1989s 'Raging Silence' included the excellent 'Voice On My TV'.

It would be too easy to pick holes in the tracklist of any compilation, but this music is wonderful from beginning to end. Dip in and enjoy Uriah Heep across the ages (and there's been some just as good material since). Very easy to pick a track and go explore the catalogue it came from. Far from definitive but a damn fine intro.

uriah heep

Disc 1: The Original LP remastered
1. Gypsy
2. Walking In Your Shadow
3. Come Away Melinda
4. Lucy Blues
5. Dreammare
6. Real Turned On
7. I'll Keep On Trying
8. Wake Up (Set Your Sights)

Disc 2: An Alternate 'Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble'
1. Gypsy
2. Real Turned On
3. Dreammare
4. Come Away Melinda
5. Born In A Trunk
6. Wake Up (Set Your Sights)
7. I'll Keep On Trying
8. Wake Up (Set Your Sights)
9. Lucy Blues
10. Born In A Trunk
11. Magic Lantern
12. Bird Of Prey (alternate US mix)
* All tracks on CD2 previously unreleased

'Your Turn To Remember: The Definitive Anthology 1970-1990'
Disc 1
1. Gypsy
2. Come Away Melinda
3. Bird Of Prey
4. Lady In Black
5. Look At Yourself
6. July Morning (Japanese 7" Edit)
7. Easy Livin'
8. The Wizard
9. Sunrise
10. Sweet Lorraine
11. Steatlin'
12. Sweet Freedom
13. The Shadows And The Wind
14. Suicidal Man
15. Return To Fantasy
16. Devil's Daughter

  Disc 2
1. Weep In Silence
2. Can't Keep A Good Band Down 3. Sympathy
4. Firefly
5. Free n' Easy
6. Free Me
7. Woman Of The Night
8. Come Back To Me
9. It Ain't Easy
10. No Return
11. Too Scared To Run
12. Chasing Shadows
13. Straight Through The Heart
14. The Other Side Of Midnight
15. Rockarama
16. Poor Little Rich Girl
17. Voice On My TV

Line-up 'Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble':
David Byron – lead vocals
Mick Box – lead and acoustic guitars, vocals
Paul Newton – bass, vocals
Ken Kensley – piano, organ, mellotron, slide guitar, vocals (except Colin Wood on 'Come Away Melinda', 'Wake Up (Set Your Sights)')
Alex Napier – drums (except Nigel Olsson – drums tracks 4, 5)

Line-up 'Your Turn To Remember'
Guitars – Mick Box
Vocals – David Byron, John Lawton, John Sloman, Pete Goalby, Bernie Shaw
Bass – Paul Newton, Gary Thain, Mark Clarke, John Wetton, Trevor Bolder, Bob Daisley
Keyboards – Colin Wood, Ken Hensley, John Sinclair, Phil Lanzon
Drums – Akex Napier, Keith Baker, Iain Clark, Lee Kerslake, Chris Slade

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