Sunday, June 15, 2008

Who Loves Uriah Heep ? Bad Prog or Good Fun ?

I recently came accross a great music review site called Only Solitaire George Starostin' Music Reviews, it's still up on the web despite no entries for a very long time and contains some very well informed reviews of Psychedelic, prog, art-rock and metal bands and many other genres.

It's pretty comprehensive, sometimes disagreeable and a great resource for research.

One set of reviews that cuaght my eye was a review of every Uriah Heep album; George is pretty scathing of the band, which he is entitled to because he argues it so well.

Here's a small part of what he says about their 1970 debut : Very Heavy Very 'Umble


"Apparently, Uriah Heep wanted very much to be cool from the very beginning, and in desperate search of success they ripped off every popular style of 1970, including riff-heavy metal ('Gypsy'), Southern blues ('Lucy's Blues'), the most pathetic aspects of Bee Gees-style balladeering ('Come Away Melinda'), embryonic progressive rock ('Dreammare', 'Wake Up'), and retro boogie ('Real Turned On'). Amazingly, they
blew it on all counts - I wasn't expecting all that much from their debut record, but I sure was expecting more than I got."

The comments section is where it gets interesting:

'"It's interesting to note that in lumping together selected elements of Cream, Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge and (probably) Procol Harum, DP Mk 1 arrived at a lumpy hodgepodge of embryonic proto-metal that was immediately seized on and devoured by the fledgling Heep at the very same moment Purple themselves transcended it. I think a comparison of Shades and Very 'eavy is therefore far more revealing than the usual comparison of In Rock, regardless of the fact that both were released in the same year. I maintain that while Heep at this stage were an essential derivation of the already derivative DP Mk 1, the fact remains that Heep expanded the limits of the Mk 1 Purple style far more convincingly and coherently"

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"I think you have a wrong approach here. Why on earth is UH a prog band? Well, just why? Prog-rock is a kind of serious rock music with constant rhythm changes, classical elements and all. What's progish about Heep? The thing that Hensley has an organ? It's like calling the Rolling Stones a Jazz band because they have sax here and there. UH were never trying to be an art-rock band. They were never trying to look even a bit serious! Comparing them with Genesis is like comparing ABBA with Mozart."

Image:ABBA - Ring Ring (Original Polar LP).jpg

Personally I completely love Uriah Heep and especially their first; I agree with the guy above; who really cares if it is not serious art; how often do you really listen to Amon Duul, to Captain Beefheart, compared to say Alan Parsons, Supertramp (or one of my favourite lollypop metal bands Sonata Artica). If you've got the time it's great to mull over a complex album until you 'get it'. Same with classical; if you study it, think about it your suddenyl let into a world that you never heard before. Sometimes, however, this is a luxury and there is nothing wrong with a sugar hit.

Image:SonataArctica Ecliptica.jpg

It's like the difference between Relayer and Going for the One. Smile is interesting, Pet Sounds is timeless, but Barbara Ann is pure joy.


What do you think ?

Images: Courtesy Mercury/Parlophone/Polar/Capitol/Spinefarm

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