Uriah Heep – …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble (1970)

Artist Credit
Keith Baker Drums, Percussion
Mick Box Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Vocals
Gerry Bron Producer
David Byron Composer, Vocals
Tom Coyne Mastering
John Craig Cover Design
Peter Gallen Engineer, Mixing
Fred Hellerman Composer
Ken Hensley Composer, Mellotron, Organ, Piano, Slide Guitar, Vocals
Gérald Minkoff Composer
Al Napier Drums
Paul Newton Composer, Guitar (Bass), Vocals
Peter J. Olliff Mixing
Ollie Olsson Drums, Percussion
Peter Smith Photography
Desmond Strobel Art Direction
Uriah Heep Primary Artist
Colin Wood Keyboards

This album was the debut of Uriah Heep, an English band that would become one of the Titans of the ’70s heavy metal sound. Despite their eventual hard-rocking reputation, Very ‘Eavy… Very ‘Umble finds the band trying on different stylistic hats as they work towards finding their own sound. At this juncture, their music falls halfway between the crunch of heavy metal and the dramatic arrangements of prog rock. When this style jells, the results are quite powerful: “Dreammare” blends psychedelic lyrics and a complex vocal arrangement with a stomping beat from the rhythm section to create an effective slice of prog metal fusion while “I’ll Keep on Trying” presents a head-spinning, complex tune with enough riffs, hooks, and tempo changes to fill three or four songs. However, the album’s finest achievement is “Gypsy”: this heavy metal gem nails the blend of swirling organ riffs, power chords, and leather-lunged vocal harmonies that would define the group’s classic tunes and remains a staple of the band’s live performances today. Unfortunately, the focus of the album is diluted by some unsuccessful experiments: “Lucy Blues” is a dull, unmemorable stab at a Led Zeppelin-style heavy blues tune and “Come Away Melinda” is an overproduced, melodramatic cover that tries to marry the band’s full-throttle musical style to a message song. Despite these occasional moments of stylistic schizophrenia, Very ‘Eavy… Very ‘Umble is a likable album that shows the promise that Uriah Heep would soon realize. Those unfamiliar with Uriah Heep may want to try out Demons and Wizards or a compilation first, but anyone with a serious interest in Uriah Heep or the roots of heavy metal will find plenty to like on Very ‘Eavy… Very ‘Umble. The American edition of this album was retitled Uriah Heep and omits “Lucy Blues” in favor of the track “Bird of Prey” from Salisbury.

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