The first two albums from Uriah Heep appear to be very under-appreciated, a lot to enjoy on both ‘Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble’ and this one ‘Salisbury’.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Uriah Heep
SERIAL: 6360 028
CD REISSUE: 2003, Sanctuary, SMRCD049 (with bonus tracks)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: David Byron – lead vocals * Ken Hensley – slide, acoustic guitars, organ, piano, harpsichord, vibraphone, vocals * Mick Box – lead & acoustic guitars * Paul Newton – bass * Keith Baker – drums
Additional Musician: John Fiddy – brass, woodwinds
TRACK LISTING: 01 Bird Of Prey * 02 The Park * 03 Time To Love * 04 Lady In Black * 05 High Priestess * 06 Salisbury
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Uriah Heep has a storied career but retracing their vast back catalog can be a roller coaster ride often between brilliant to dull hard rock, from good and yes, occasionally mediocre AOR. While the band were never hip with mainstream critics, they set the bar for classic rock with singles like ‘Easy Livin’ and my personal favorite ‘Stealin’ from the superb ‘Sweet Freedom’ album. But when it comes down to my most played Uriah Heep platter it has to be ‘Salisbury’.
This was the band’s sophomore release and the closest they came to bona fide progressive rock although I suppose after spending most of 1970 sharing stages with the likes of Yes, Gracious, Renaissance, Czar and The Moody Blues, some of that sound had to rub off on the boys from London. I don’t think anyone expected they would unleash what is now considered one of the great prog rock albums of the very early 70’s UK scene.
‘Bird Of Prey’ kicks off the album with Mick Box’s bulldozing riff and Ken Hensley’s pumping organ paving the way for David Byron’s ungodly falsetto. Seriously, the man sounds like he was kicked in the balls but the song works exceedingly well and is a bona fide classic in the band’s repertoire. Hensley joined Uriah Heep too late to receive writing credits on the debut ‘Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble’ but plays a bigger role here.
His mark is clearly defined on ‘The Park’ which in its second half instrumentally recalls Gentle Giant while ‘Time To Live’ gives Deep Purple a run for their money. The folky ‘Lady In Black’ recorded with four acoustic guitars was released as a single and although it’s not credited, I swear I hear a bit of mellotron in the background as well. ‘High Priestess’ starts out quite spacey, before turning into classic Uriah Heep.
But the album’s crowning jewel is the title track. Borrowing from The Moody Blues and Procol Harum and influenced by Deep Purple‘s ‘Concerto for Group and Orchestra’, ‘Salisbury’ clocked in at just over 16 minutes and is a classical rock tour-De-Force. The entire album stands shoulder to shoulder with anything released by their peers the same year.
More touring followed the album’s release including dates with Hawkwind, Gentle Giant, Trapeze and The Groundhogs as well as their first visit to America opening for Three Dog Night, Jazz rockers IF as well as Ten Years After. It began their rise as one of England’s greatest hard rock exports, peaking with the stellar ‘Demons And Wizards’ in 1972 and continuing on from there.
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