…Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble
Originally this album was released in 1970 but it sounds as fresh as it is possible to sound 52 years on. Opening with the fantastic “Gypsy”, a song that has probably the most words written about of any Heep so no real need to add anything further here other than to say that the word and term classic is very apt. A proto-metal forerunner. “Walking In Your Shadow” is a riff driven tour-de-force that flows like a raging river.
“Come Away Melinda” is a total change of pace and atmosphere, showcasing the band’s ability to switch gears and moods at will, something that has served them well ever since this album’s original release five decades ago. It is a cover version of the popular Tim Rose track but it sounds like it would sit easier in The Eagles back catalogue. “Lucy Blues” has a slowbeat strut and confidence that is difficult to achieve is such a melancholic track. “Dreammare” picks back up the hard rock vibe of the opening two tracks with some extra vocal bluster.
“Real Turned On” goes full-on boogie blues rock with truck-drivin’ riffs that Status Quo would later make their trademark. A belter of a track that demands to be played loud with beer in hand. Mid-tempo groove rocker “I’ll Keep On Trying” is the penultimate that echoes early Deep Purple that contains a soaring and fizzing solo from Mick Box. To finish things off we have “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)” which is a progressive light rock track that lends itself perfectly to David Bryson’s operatic and powerful vocals back by a Jazz-swing drumming style from Alex Napier.
The follow-up to the band’s debut saw a continuation of the band’s rapidly developing unique sound. Opener “Bird Of Prey” may well of been the vocal inspiration for Justin Hawkins (The Darkness) style and method of delivery such is the change in register from the bassy tones to the helium-infused higher notes that allow the track to float above standard opening rock fare.
There are only six tracks on offer but each of them has something unique. Take the next track “The Park” which is a flighty folk acoustic guitar/organ led number that sets itself off on a winding path with no end in sight. Paul Newton’s bass is very prominent throughout and leads the final couple of minutes down an instrumental rabbit hole before emerging back where we left off.
“Time To Live” is fairly standard straight forward rock fare, save for a short and swirling Mick Box solo. The highlight, to most rock fans unfamiliar with the bulk of the Heep’s work, will undoubtably be the magnificently anthemic “Lady In Black”. A track that has been covered more times than the band have played it live. The speedy rocker “High Priestess” allows the band to let loose and indulge in some good old-fashioned rock and roll rhythms, all done in their own unique way of course.
Closing the album out is the supremely lengthy but supremely brilliant title-track “Salisbury”. One shouldn’t allow the 16 minute run-time put you off as this track is an insight into the talent and creative mindset of what the band had been and achieved to that point. Starting off like a Sergio Leone spaghetti western is soon takes a sinister musical turn courtesy of nothing less than a 24-piece orchestra. This track is worth half a dozen of other good to very good tracks on the album. So whilst six tracks makes the album feel short what the title track gives you is something truly exceptional. It is completely different to what has gone before in terms of pure unfiltered talent. A milestone for progressive rock as good as the very best of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes et al.
Overall Salisbury is less gloomy and dark as its predecessor. The album cover, an intimidating shot of a British Chieftain tank, may lead you to think that this album is something that it is not. Ken Hensley wrote half of the tracks on his own and that does show to a certain extent, not in a particularly negative way but just highlights perhaps the direction that Hensley was looking to take the band in going forwards.
The artwork for each picture disc has been beautifully recreated and is a real visual delight. Also both albums contain the original audio recorded in Landsdowne studios.
Both picture discs were released on 28th January 2022.
To pre order …Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble… – https://uriahheep.lnk.to/VEVUPR
To pre order Salisbury – https://uriahheep.lnk.to/SBYPR
Donnie’s Rating: …Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble (9/10) and Salisbury (9/10)