Saturday, August 22, 2009

A musical blast from the past

I was talking with a friend today, and amongst other things, our discussion turned to the music of the late 1960's and early 1970's. I was around then - he wasn't. He confessed, to my surprise, that he'd never even heard of (much less heard the music of) the group Uriah Heep.

Well, we can't have that, can we? Uriah Heep were background music to many of my formative years, and were the inspiration for a great many musicians who followed them. They were one of the first 'heavy rock' groups. Their original lead vocalist, David Byron, was a tragic figure, reminiscent in many ways of a fledgling Freddie Mercury, with a truly remarkable voice and stage presence. He died of alcohol-abuse-related causes in 1985.

Uriah Heep never 'made it big' in the USA, but were enormously popular in Britain, Europe and the Far East. They've sold over 30 million albums, and can still fill a stadium with fans, forty years after they began performing.

Here are some of Uriah Heep's classic songs from their first five albums. They're selected at random from a great many available on YouTube. Search that site for 'Uriah Heep' and you'll find plenty more.

From their first album in 1970, Very 'Eavy, Very 'Umble, comes the track Gypsy. This is a live performance recorded a few years ago, with the band rather older than they were when they first recorded this song!

Next, from their second album Salisbury, released in 1971, the classic Lady In Black. This is one of the definitive Heep songs, and fans (including yours truly) learned the words by heart. It wasn't unusual to have the entire audience singing along to this one!

From their third album, Look At Yourself, released in 1971, I've selected two tracks. The first is eponymous, and introduced the album.

The second is July Morning.

Their fourth album, Demons And Wizards, released in 1972, is still regarded as one of their greatest, and a classic heavy rock album in its own right. I've selected three - well, actually four - tracks. First is Easy Livin', which became a hit all over the world.

Then there's three tracks, spread across two videos. In the first video below, you'll find the opening track to the album, The Wizard. It's followed at the three-minute mark by Paradise, the seventh track, which runs together with the eighth, The Spell. Paradise ends the first video below, and The Spell is on the second clip.

To close, from the band's fifth album, The Magician's Birthday, also released in 1972, comes the opening track, Sunrise. This is a live performance, recorded in Tokyo, Japan, in 1973.

I hope you enjoyed this 'blast from the past'. I certainly enjoyed reliving many memories!



HankH said...

Awesome Peter!!!! I haven't heard any of that good stuff in many years! I'm 51 and you took back for a few minutes to the carefree days of being 16 again. Your blog is excellent and I enjoy it every day - today was a bonus!



Anonymous said...

I was a rock keyboardist in the 1970s (small-time bar band). To this day, I still like to play July Morning and Easy Living on the piano and organ. I have forgotten how to play some other Uriah Heep tunes, though.

Lots of guys back then used to debate who was the best guitarist, etc. I didn't care, I was more interested in what the keyboard players were doing, guys like Ken Hensley (of Heep), Jon Lord (Deep Purple), Seth Justman (J. Geils), Alan Price (Animals), Al Kooper (no, not Alice Cooper!), Ray Manzarek (Doors), Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake, & Palmer), and even Rick Wakeman (Yes), although I could never even attempt to play stuff like Wakeman! I should also mention blues pianist Bob Hall, who briefly recorded with Savoy Brown.

Since then I have discovered great boogie woogie pianists such as Pete Johnson.