Uriah Heep

Uriah Heep are an English hard-rock band that released twenty-five albums between 1970 and 2023. They emerged in London’s post-psych boom with the 1970–71 Vertigo albums …Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble and Salisbury, followed by thirteen studio albums through 1983 on Bronze Records.

Guitarist mainstay Mick Box formed Uriah Heep in 1969 with singer David Byron and keyboardist Ken Hensley. Their classic lineup with bassist Gary Thain and drummer Lee Kerslake made the 1972–74 albums Demons and Wizards, The Magician’s Birthday, Sweet Freedom, and Wonderworld. In select territories, they charted with the songs “Lady in Black,” “Look at Yourself,” “The Wizard,” “Easy Livin’,” “Stealin’,” and “Something or Nothing.” 

King Crimson bassist John Wetton joined for the 1975–76 albums Return to Fantasy and High and Mighty, their last with Byron. Lucifer’s Friend singer Dave Lawton headed the 1977–78 albums Firefly, Innocent Victim, and Fallen Angel. After a period of flux, Box hired singer Peter Goalby for the 1982 comeback album Abominog, which spawned the MTV hit “That’s the Way That It Is.”

Members: Mick Box (guitar, vocals), David Byron (vocals, 1969-76), Ken Hensley (keyboards, guitar, vocals, 1969-80), Paul Newton (bass, vocals, 1969-71), Alex Napier (drums, 1969-70), Nigel Olsson (drums, percussion, 1970), Keith Baker (drums, 1970), Mark Clarke (bass, 1971-72), Iain Clarke (drums, 1970-71), Lee Kerslake (drums, percussion, 1971-79, 1981-2007), Gary Thain (bass, 1972-75), John Wetton (bass, keyboards, vocals, 1975-76), John Lawton (vocals, 1976-79), Trevor Bolder (bass, 1976-81, 1983-2013), John Sloman (vocals, piano, percussion, 1979-80), Chris Slade (drums, percussion, 1979-80), Gregg Dechert (keyboards, 1980), John Sinclair (keyboards, vocals, 1981-86), Peter Goalby (vocals, 1981-85), Bob Daisley (bass, vocals, 1981-83)


Background

Uriah Heep evolved from late-’60s psych-rockers Spice, which featured vocalist David Byron, guitarist Mick Box, and drummer Alex Napier. They eventually welcomed bassist Paul Newton of fellow psychsters The Gods. This lineup gigged for one year on the London club circuit and cut the November 1968 single “What About the Music” (b/w “In Love”) on United Artists.

In mid-1969, Spice hired producer and band manager Gerry Bron (Manfred Mann, Colosseum), who secured them a deal with Vertigo, the newly formed progressive subsidiary of Philips. Soon after, the band changed its name to Uriah Heep, taken from the chief antagonist in Charles Dickens’ classic 1849 novel David Copperfield. They expanded to a five-piece with keyboardist Colin Wood.

Uriah Heep began sessions for their debut album at London’s Lansdowne Studios. They first recorded two songs — the Weavers cover “Come Away Melinda” and the Box–Byron original “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)” — before they replaced Wood with keyboardist Ken Hensley, a colleague of Newton in The Gods (and its outgrowth, Head Machine) who recently cut an album with blues-rockers Toe Fat.


1970

Mick Box – lead guitar
David Byron – lead vocals
Ken Hensley – organ, mellotron
Paul Newton – bass guitar, vocals
Alex Napier – drums

During the winter of 1970, three-quarters into the recording of the album, drummer Alex Napier was replaced by Nigel Olsson, recommended to Byron by Elton John. Olsson drums on “Lucy Blues” and “Dreammare.” Keith Baker – drums on “Bird of Prey”


.…Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble

Uriah Heep released their debut album, .…Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble, on June 13, 1970, on Vertigo. It opens with “Gypsy,” an early setlist epic composed by Box and Byron, who also co-wrote “Lucy Blues” and “I’ll Keep on Trying.” Newton, who collaborated with the pair on “Real Turned On,” submitted “Dreammare” and co-wrote one song (“Walking in Your Shadow”) with Byron. The album also features “Come Away Melinda” and “Wake Up (Set Your Sights),” which retain Wood’s drum parts.

Sessions took place between July 1969 and April 1970 at Lansdowne. This and the next twelve studio albums (up through 1980) were produced by Gary Bron and engineered by Peter Gallen. Bron produced .…Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble in succession with titles by Affinity, Colosseum, and Juicy Lucy. Gallen also co-engineered the self-titled album by Egg.

.…Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble is housed in a gatefold sleeve that shows covered in cobwebs across his face (front) and hands (back). The inner-gates have a red-tinted live picture of the band projections of the front cover and liquid light as their stage backdrop. The photographer, Peter Smith, also photographed 1969–70 album covers for Czar, Little Free Rock, Marsupilami, Pentangle, and the Colosseum album Valentyne Suite.

In France and Germany, Vertigo lifted “Gypsy” as a single, backed with the non-album “Bird of Prey,” and original by Box, Byron, and Newton. Italian copies of the single have “Come Away Melinda” as the b-side.

In the United States, the album appeared in August 1970 on Mercury. This version, titled Uriah Heep, has a vertical gatefold illustration of a winged monster snake by American pulp artist Virgil Finlay (1914–1971). Mercury copies swap “Lucy Blues” for “Bird of Prey.”

“Gypsy” became their first US single (b/w “Real Turned On”), followed in November by “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)” (b/w “Come Away Melinda”).

.…Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble reached No. 11 in Italy and went Top 20 in Australia (No. 15) and Italy (No. 14). It reached No. 22 in Germany, where “Gypsy” peaked within the Top 30.


1971

After the second album, Baker clears out for drummer Ian Clarke

Bron had been producing Uriah Heep for Vertigo Records, and he set up the new label for future Uriah Heep releases, along with Juicy Lucy, Richard Barnes, Eastern Alliance and Colosseum. Other subsequent acts included Gene Pitney, Osibisa, Paladin, Goldie, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band (another Vertigo refugee), the Real Kids, Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay, Sally Oldfield, Motörhead, Angel Witch, the Damned, Girlschool, Bronz and Hawkwind.


Salisbury

Uriah Heep released their second album, Salisbury, on January 12, 1971, on Vertigo. It opens with a re-recorded “Birds of Prey,” followed by “The Park,” a sole-write by Hensley, who sings his other two contributions: “Lady in Black” and “High Priestess.” The album also contains two Box–Byron–Hensley compositions: “Time to Live” and the almost side-length “Salisbury.”

Sessions took place in October–November 1970 at Lansdowne, where Bron produced Salisbury in succession with albums by Richard Barnes and Tony Hazzard. Gallen also engineered 1971 albums by Michel Polnareff (Polnareff’s) and Tudor Lodge.

Salisbury features Hensley on vibraphone, harpsichord, acoustic and slide guitar, in addition to organ and piano.

The Bloomsbury Group, a UK rock design firm, is responsible for the Salisbury cover design: a vertical gatefold that shows a running tank billowing pink smoke (front), the name and title in yellow-brown bubble letters (back), and an upshot of the tank at a precipice and liner notes by Hensley (inner-gates). Bloomsbury also did cover designs to 1971–72 albums by Black Sabbath, The Kinks, Magna Carta, Paul Jones, and Soft Machine.

Vertigo lifted “Lady in Black” as a single in Europe, backed with the non-album Hensley number “Simon the Bullet Freak.”

In America, Salisbury appeared on Mercury in a single-sleeve with a revised track order that swaps “Birds of Prey” (which already appeared on the US Uriah Heep) with “Simon the Bullet Freak.” Mercury copies sport an alternate cover by Parsons School of Design artist William Falkenburg, whose sketch depicts a skeletal figure breaking free against a red–orange backdrop. The back cover retains the liner notes within a b&w spherical maze scheme. Falkenburg illustrated contemporary Mercury covers for Exuma, Second Coming, and Sir Lord Baltimore.

Mercury lifted “Time to Live” as Uriah Heep’s third US single (b/w “High Priestess”).

Salisbury went Top 20 in Australia and Italy and reached No. 3 in Finland, where “Lady in Black” climbed to No. 16 on the singles chart.


Look at Yourself

Uriah Heep released their third album, Look at Yourself, in September 1971 on Bronze and Mercury. It features two Byron–Hensley epics: “July Morning” and “Shadows of Grief,” which sports a circular Hammond riff. The closing track, “Love Machine,” is a three-way write with Box. Hensley wrote the remaining numbers: “I Wanna Be Free,” “Tears in My Eyes,” “What Should Be Done,” and the title-track, on which he sings lead vocals.

Sessions took place in July 1971 at Lansdowne, where Bron produced Look at Yourself just after finishing work on the double album Colosseum Live, the inaugural Bronze release. Musical guests on Look at Yourself include Manfred Mann, who plays Moog synthesizer on “July Morning” and “Tears in My Eyes.” Three members of Ghanaian-Brit funksters Osibisa play percussion on the title track.

Look at Yourself is housed in a die sleeve with disembodied eyes above a framed reflective panel, which invites the buyer to look at his/her reflection. The width (and gender) of the eyes and the color scheme of the framework (typically gray–blue) differ by nation. The back cover shows blurred reflection images of each member by photographer Tony Evans, who also has visual credits on titles by Fotheringay and Stone the Crows.

North American copies show a counter mirror in a black setting (front) and a tinted (red-blue) photo-negative of Uriah Heep (back).

An edit of “Look at Yourself” (3:04) accompanied the album’s release as a single (b/w “What Should Be Done”). It reached No. 4 in Switzerland and peaked in the German Top 40.

Look at Yourself reached No. 1 in Finland and No. 5 in Japan, where a trimmed “July Morning” appeared in July 1972 as a second single (b/w “Love Machine”). The album also went Top 20 in Australia, Germany, Italy, and Norway.

In 2003, Sony BMG reissued the album in expanded CD form with seven bonus tracks, including two outtakes from the Look at Yourself sessions: “What’s Within My Heart” (5:23) and the group-written “Why” (11:18).


1972

Newton and Clarke clear out for bassist Gary Thain and drummer Lee Kerslake. Thain hailed from the Keef Hartley Band. Kerslake was Hensley’s bandmate in The Gods and Toe Fat.


Demons and Wizards

Uriah Heep released their fourth album, Demons and Wizards, on May 19, 1972, on Bronze and Mercury. Hensley’s epic numbers include “Rainbow Demon,” “Circle of Hands,” and “Paradise,” a hazy acoustic ballad that segues into “The Spell,” a hopping hard-rocker. He also wrote “Easy Livin’,” a transatlantic chart in in seven countries. Box and Kerslake collaborated on songs with Hensley (“Poet’s Justice”) and Byron (“Traveller in Time,” “All My Life”). The album opens with “The Wizard,” a product of Heep’s final days with Clarke, who plays on the track.

Sessions took place in March–April 1972 at Lansdowne, where Bron produced Demons and Wizards in succession with titles by Hazzard and Bronze signees Paladin. Gallen also engineered 1972 albums by Cochise steel guitarist BJ Cole, Nucleus trumpeter Ian Carr, and ex-Colosseum multi-reedist Dick Heckstall-Smith (A Story Ended).

Demons and Wizards is the first of two Uriah Heep albums with gatefold cover art by Roger Dean, who recently gained prominence with 1971–72  album covers for Earth and Fire (self-titled, UK version), Midnight Sun, Osibisa, and Yes (Fragile). His Demons and Wizards painting depicts a night-sky setting at the base near a waterfall hilltop, where a wand-waving wizard wields fairy dust under an eclipse (front) as distant planets orbit in the distance (back). The inner-gate shows a flaming demon amid the liner notes (far left) and a photo collage of tinted studio pics.

“The Wizard” first appeared as the album’s advance single in March 1972 (b/w “Gypsy”). It reached No. 8 on the Swiss singles chart and entered the German Top 35.

“Easy Livin'” appeared in July 1972 as the second single, backed with the non-album “Why,” a shorter version (4:53) of the unreleased jam from the Newton days. “Easy Livin'” reached No. 5 in the Netherlands, No. 9 in Denmark, and No. 15 in Finland and Germany. It also reached the Top 40 in France, Canada, and the US, where it peaked at No. 39 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Demons and Wizards reached No. 1 in Finland; No. 5 in Germany and Norway; and No. 7 in Denmark. It also went Top 20 in Australia and the UK and Top 20 in Japan, Canada, and the US, where the album reached Gold status.

Later CD reissues of Demons contain alternate versions of “Why,” including one (7:39) recorded during the albums early 1972 sessions.


The Magician’s Birthday

Uriah Heep released their fifth album, The Magician’s Birthday, in November 1972 on Bronze and Mercury. It opens with “Sunrise,” a slow, smouldering rocker by Hensley, who also wrote the upbeat strumalong “Blind Eye,” the heavy epic “Echoes in the Dark,” and the serene, vibe-laden “Rain.” The boogie-fueled “Spider Woman” is a group composition. Side two opens with “Sweet Lorraine,” a soaring Box–Bryon–Thain number. Hensley wrote “Tales” and collaborated with Box and Kerslake on the epic title-track.

Sessions took place in September–October 1972 at Lansdowne, the site of contemporary recordings by Capability Brown and Strawbs (Grave New World). “Tales” features pedal steel licks by BJ Cole, who also guests on 1972 albums by Hazzard, Trapeze, and the Island release Kossoff / Kirke / Tetsu / Rabbit, a byproduct of Free‘s temporary first breakup.

The Magician’s Birthday is Uriah Heep’s second of two albums with a Roger Dean gatefold illustration. It shows a swordsman on a rock facing up to a red demon, who stands atop red-laden vegetation with branches and a nearby flower nymph (all front). The red land extends to a sky bridge (back), where a feral mammal crosses to a skyward stairway. The dominance of red makes this cover unique among the works of Dean, who typically emphasized blue, green, and sometimes gray tones. He recently illustrated the September 1972 Yes album Close to the Edge, which features a grainy gradient of green, a color he would emphasize on subsequent covers for Gentle Giant (Octopus) and Greenslade.

Mercury lifted “Sweet Lorraine” in December 1972 as a US single (b/w “Blind Eye”). In Europe and Japan, “Spider Woman” appeared as a single (b/w “Sunrise”). It reached No. 14 on the German singles chart.

The Magician’s Birthday match the chart positions of Demons and Wizards in Finland (No. 1) and Norway (No. 5). Birthday reversed Demons‘ peaks in Denmark (No. 5) and Germany (No. 7). The album took Uriah Heep to a newfound peak in Australia (No. 6) and also reached the Top 30 in Canada and the UK. In the US, The Magician’s Birthday reached No. 31 on the Billboard 200.

In 2003, Castle Music issued an expanded remaster of The Magician’s Birthday that adds sessions outtakes by Thain (“Crystal Ball,” “Gary’s Song”) and Byron (“Silver White Man”).


1973–1974

In 1973, Hensley released his debut solo album Proud Words On a Dusty Shelf.


Live

In April 1973, Bronze issued Live, a double-album culled from their January 26 show at Birmingham’s Town Hall. It features four songs from Look at Yourself (“July Morning,” “Tears in My Eyes,” “Love Machine,” “Look at Yourself”) and three apiece from Demons and Wizards (“Traveller in Time,” “Easy Livin’,” “Circle of Hands”) and The Magician’s Birthday (“Sunrise,” “Sweet Lorraine,” “The Magician’s Birthday”), plus an elongated rendition of “Gypsy” (13:32).

Live concludes with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley” (8:17), a Chuck Berry (“Roll over Beethoven”), Carl Perkins (“Blue Suede Shoes”), Elvis Presley (“Mean Woman Blues,” “Hound Dog”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”), and Danny & the Juniors (“At the Hop”).

Live is housed in a gatefold sleeve with a ten-page booklet of live shots and press clippings. The photographer, Fin Costello, also has visual credits on 1973 albums by Budgie, Deep Purple, Greenslade, Hard Stuff, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Nazareth, Osibisa, Strawbs, and Tempest.


Sweet Freedom

Uriah Heep released their sixth studio album, Sweet Freedom, on September 3, 1973, on Bronze and Warner Bros. It opens with “Dreamer” by Box and Thain, who joint-wrote “Circus” with Kerslake. Hensley co-wrote a track apiece with Thain (“One Day”) and Byron (“Pilgrim”) and lone-wrote four songs: “Stealin’,” “If I Had the Time,” “Seven Stars,” and the title track.

Sessions took place in June–July 1973 at Château d’Hérouville, the haunted French mansion studio recently used by Jethro Tull for a round of ill-fated sessions (later compiled as the Chateau d’Isaster Tapes). Uriah Heep recorded Sweet Freedom in succession with Proud Words On a Dusty Shelf, which Bron also produced at d’Hérouville with Gallen, who also engineered 1973 albums by Blackfoot Sue and Peter Sinfield.

Sweet Freedom is housed in a tri-fold sleeve designed by Peter Corriston with photographs by Costello. It shows Uriah Heep engulfed in deep red before a setting sun. One inner-spread features monochrome shots of each member against the sunset sky. The other spread has the lyrics against the orange-red backdrop. Corriston designed contemporary sleeves for Badfinger, Climax Blues Band, Focus, and Rod Stewart.

“Stealin'” appeared two weeks prior to Sweet Freedom as the lead-off single, backed with the Magician’s opener “Sunrise.” The song reached No. 9 in Norway and No. 20 in New Zealand. In Japan, Bronze issued “Dreamer” as an a-side, followed by “Seven Stars,” which also appeared as a single in the Netherlands.

Sweet Freedom reached No. 2 in Finland and Norway; No. 5 in Canada; and No. 9 in Austria. The album also went Top 20 in the UK, Denmark, and Germany. In the US, Sweet Freedom reached No. 33 on the Billboard 200.


Wonderworld

Uriah Heep released their seventh studio album, Wonderworld, on June 22, 1974, on Bronze and Warner Bros. Hensley wrote the opening title track and “The Shadows and the Wind” and “The Easy Road.” Box and Hensley co-wrote “Something or Nothing” and “Dreams” with respective input by Thain and Byron. The album includes four group-written numbers: “Suicidal Man,” “So Tired,” “I Won’t Mind,” and “We Got We.”

Sessions occurred between January and March 1974 at Musicland, a Munich studio owned by Giorgio Moroder. Bron produced Wonderworld in succession with Living In Fear, the second of two albums by John Hiseman’s Tempest (with Patto guitarist Ollie Halsall). Gallen engineered Wonderworld with assistance from Musicland soundmen Hans Menzel and Reinhold Mack (aka Macki), who both worked on Deep Purple’s 1974 release Stormbringer.

“The Easy Road” features orchestral arrangements by Rhodesian big band leader Michael Gibbs. Guest keyboardist Jose Gabriel plays synthesizers on Wonderworld. Designer Graham Hughes (Roger Daltery‘s cousin) conceived and photographed the Wonderworld cover, which depicts Uriah Heep as baroque marble statues on podiums. The back cover shows them upright and in the flesh. Hughes also has visual credits on then-recent albums by Frankie Miller, Golden Earring, Leo Sayer (Silverbird), Osibisa (Osibirock), Robert Palmer, Roxy Music (Siren), and The Who (Quadrophenia).

Uriah Heep lifted “Something or Nothing” as a single, backed with the non-album “What Can I Do,” a Box–Byron–Kerslake number. “Something or Nothing” reached No. 6 in Norway, where Wonderworld reached No. 3 on the VG-lista. The album matched that position in Denmark and charted even higher (No. 2) in Austria. Wonderworld also went Top 10 in Finland and Germany. It peaked at No. 19 in Australia and No. 23 on the UK Albums Chart.


1975–1976

Thain suffered an onstage electric shock in September 1974 at the Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas. Unable to perform, he cleared out for onetime Mogul Thrash bassist John Wetton, fresh off a King Crimson stint that produced the 1973–74 albums Larks Tongues in Aspic, Starless and Bible Black, and Red. In December 1975, Thain died at age 27 of a heroin overdose.

Hensley released Eager to Please, his second solo album.

In 1975, Bron founded a recording studio next door to the famed Roundhouse performance venue in London, appropriately naming it Roundhouse Recording Studios

Byron released his first solo album, Take No Prisoners, in March 1975 on Bronze. Dismissed after July 1976 Spanish tour, replaced by John Lawton.


Return to Fantasy

Uriah Heep released their eighth album, Return to Fantasy, on June 13, 1975, on Bronze and Warner Bros. This is the first of two albums with bassist John Wetton. It features two songs by Hensley (“Your Turn to Remember,” “A Year or a Day”), one Hensley–Byron co-write (“Return to Fantasy”), and six songs joint-credited to the four pre-existing members: “Shady Lady,” “Devil’s Daughter,” “Beautiful Dream,” “Prima Donna,” “Showdown,” and “Why Did You Go.”

“Return to Fantasy” – C#m polychordal descent to F#, mid tempo/traveling toms, joined by theramin-like synth…. Brisk galloping verses in F#… unwavering rhythmic thrust through the bridge consisting of major/minor shifts in the same key… chorus presents a faster variation of the intro chords… echoey vocal sustains on choice lines (“time….”)… leslied harmonies… a long melody that starts on the bridge and resolves through the chorus… lyrics that seem to deal with the alternate side to people, the alter ego that some of us have, that comes out in the dark… climactic outro that modulates intro chords (faster) to Efm with theramin-synth.  Solid drive, unrelenting gallop, long resolving vocal melody over a descending sequence of chords, full harmonies, suitable spacey effects…. Heep fully integrating their metallic and progressive tendencies into a succinct anthem…

The album’s spring 1975 sessions took place at Lansdowne and Morgan Studios, a Willesden facility concurrently used by Arthur Brown, Black Sabbath, Chris Squire, Cockney Rebel, Fruupp, Greenslade, Rick Wakeman, Steeleye Span, and UFO. Bron produced Return to Fantasy in sequence with Bronze titles by Gibbs and Osibisa. Gallen engineered the album with assistance by Dave Burns and Morgan’s Dave Harris, a soundman on the debut Sailor album.

Return to Fantasy is housed in a gatefold sleeve with a cover painting by British artist Dave Field. It depicts a back-arched ballerina on a flaming, glowing sphere. The inner-gates have a smoky, shadowy pic of the Wetton–Bryon lineup.

Uriah Heep lifted “Prima Donna” as a single, backed with the non-album Hensley number “Shout It Out.” It reached No. 3 in Norway and No. 10 in Denmark. “Return to Fantasy” appeared as a second single in Europe, backed on German pressings with the exclusive group-written number “The Time Will Come.”

Return to Fantasy reached the Top 10 in Norway (No. 2), Austria (No. 3), the UK (No. 7), Finland (No. 8), and the Netherlands (No. 10). It also went Top 20 in Australia and Denmark and peaked at No. 21 in Germany.


High and Mighty

Uriah Heep released their ninth album, High and Mighty, in June 1976 on Bronze and Warner Bros. This was their last album with singer and co-founder David Byron, who sings on everything apart from the opening track, “One Way or Another,” which features joint vocals by Hensley and Wetton, who co-wrote the tracks “Weep in Silence” and “Footprints in the Snow.” Hensley lone-wrote the remaining eight numbers, which include “Misty Eyes,” “Woman of the World,” “Midnight,” “Confession,” and “Can’t Stop Singing.”

Uriah Heep self-produced High and Mighty between December 1975 and March 1976 at Bron’s recently built Roundhouse Recording Studios in London. Peter Gallen engineered two tracks (“One Way or Another,” “Footprints in the Snow”). Soundman Ashley Howe engineered the remaining tracks with assistance by Peter’s brother, John Gallen. The credits thank “the Wobblers – Chris and Rick.”

Hensley’s High and Mighty arsenal consists of Moog synthesizer, slide and pedal steel guitar, and tubular bells; in addition to organ, piano, acoustic guitar and electric 12-string guitar. Wetton plays Mellotron and electric piano, in addition to bass.

The High and Mighty cover depicts an upside-down pistol with aircraft wings in flight. It was designed by Shirtsleeve Studio, which also did the ‘shouting ear’ cover to The Roaring Silence, the 1976 seventh album by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. The record is housed in a die-cut octagonal inner-sleeve with lyrics and live pics of each member.

Uriah Heel lifted “One Way or Another” as a single (b/w “Misty Eyes”). “Make a Little Love” became the album’s second single (b/w “Weep In Silence”) in Norway, where High and Mighty reached No. 4 on the VG-lista.


1977–1978

Three albums with the lineup of Box, Hensley, Kerslake, Lawton, and bassist Trevor Bolder, who replaced Wetton in late 1976.

“Lady in Black” was re-released in Europe, where is charted in Germany (No. 5) and Sweden (No. 6).


Firefly

Uriah Heep released their tenth album, Firefly, in February 1977 on Bronze and Warner Bros. This is their first of three albums with singer John Lawton, who replaced co-founder David Byron. The opening track, “The Hanging Tree,” is a co-write between Hensley and American songwriter Jack Williams. Kerslake submitted “Who Needs Me.” Hesley wrote the remaining six songs, including “Sympathy,” “Rollin’ On,” “Been Away Too Long,” and the title track.

Sessions took place in October–November 1976 at Roundhouse, where Bron and Peter Gallen resumed their roles as Heep’s soundmen. Bron produced Firefly ahead of the singular album by Woody Woodmansey’s U-Boat, led by Bolder’s onetime Spiders bandmate.

Firefly is housed in a gatefold with a full-spread cover painting by one Martin White. It shows a caped young man riding a firefly above a green sea under a crescent moon. He reached to a rainbow that radiates from a young woman (back cover), who sits lotus style above the water, surrounded by leaping fish. The inner-gates have sketch drawings of Uriah Heep by Italian artist Rici di Tommaso.

Bronze lifted “Sympathy” as a single in Germany, where it entered the Top 40. In the UK, “Wise Man” was the sole a-side. Both singles are backed with the non-album “Crime of Passion,” a Box–Kerslake–Hensley number.

Firefly reached No. 6 in Norway and went Top 20 in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany.


Innocent Victim

Uriah Heep released their eleventh album, Innocent Victim, in November 1977 on Bronze and Warner Bros. It opens with “Keep on Ridin’,” Hensley’s second co-write with Jack Williams, who contributes the final two cuts, “The Dance” and “Choices.” Bolder wrote “Roller” with late-period Spiders bandmate Pete McDonald, a member of Bronze popsters Goldie. It’s followed by “Free ‘n’ Easy,” a Box–Lawton co-write. Hensley wrote the remaining four songs: “Flyin’ High,” “Illusion,” “Free Me,” and “Cheat ‘n’ Lie.”

Sessions took place beyween July and September 1977 at Roundhouse Studios, where Hensley co-produced the album with Bron. Gallen engineered the album apart from “Choices,” a track engineered by Mark Dearnley, who also worked on 1976–77 albums by Babe Ruth, Hawkwind, J.A.L.N. Band, Rock Follies, and Water.

Innocent Victim appears in a black single sleeve with an illustration of a grinning snake (with Kerslake’s eyes) by English artist John Holmes, who also did covers for Spooky Tooth and Be-Bop Deluxe (Ace Victim).

Uriah Heep first recorded “Illusion” as a combined track with “Masquerade,” which became the b-side of their “Free Me” single. The origina long version (8:18) appears on the 1997 Innocent Victim reissue disc with a studio outtake, “The River.”

“Free Me” reached No. 3 in New Zealand and South Africa. It also went Top 10 in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland. Innocent Victim went Top 20 in Norway, New Zealand, and Germany, where it sold more than 100,000 copies.


Fallen Angel

Uriah Heep released their twelfth album, Fallen Angel, in September 1978 on Bronze and Chrysalis. This is their third and final album with Lawton, who wrote one song on each side: “Put Your Lovin’ on Me” and “I’m Alive.” The album also contains a Hensley–Kerslake co-write (“Come Back to Me”) and another Bolder–McDonald number (“Save It”). The opening track, “Woman of the Night,” is a Box–Lawton–Kerslake number. Hensley wrote the remaining five songs: “Falling in Love,” “One More Night (Last Farewell),” “Whad’ya Say,” “Love or Nothing,” and “Fallen Angel.”

Sessions first took place in April 1978 at Roundhouse, Uriah Heep cut “Love or Nothing,” released as a single in June with the non-album b-side “Gimme Love (Struttin’).” They completed Fallen Angel in July–August with Bron and Peter Gallen, who retired from sound work after this recording. The album lists three assistant engineers, including John Gallen, who also worked on 1978 Bronze titles by Andy Mackay and Sally Oldfield (Water Bearer).

“Save It” features a tenor sax solo by Chris Mercer, a journeyman player (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Juicy Lucy, Keef Hartley Band, Locomotive) with credits on recent albums by Bryan Ferry, Frankie Miller, Gonzalez, Marshall Hain, Nasty Pop, and Stretch.

Fallen Angel has a vertical gatefold illustration by Cypriot-British fantasy painter Chris Achilleos. It shows a scantily clad Viking swordswoman with a raven on her shoulder, standing over a slain warthog gargoyles approach from behind. Achilleos also did the cover for the 1979 Whitesnake album Lovehunter, which shows a female nude in a monster snake’s embrace.

Uriah Heep released “Come Back to Me” as the second Fallen Angel single, backed with Hensley’s non-album “Cheater.” That and “Love or Nothing” went Top 40 in Germany, where “Love or Nothing” was lifted as a third single. Fallen Angel reached No. 10 in Norway, No. 17 in France, and No. 18 in Germany.


1979–1981

Mick Box – guitars
Ken Hensley – obx, vocoder, organ, piano, guitars, backing vocals
Trevor Bolder – bass guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on “It Ain’t Easy”
Chris Slade – staccato drums, percussion
John Sloman – lead vocals, backing vocals, piano, percussion


Conquest

Uriah Heep released their thirteenth album, Conquest, in February 1980 on Bronze. It features four songs by Hensley (“Imagination,” “Feelings,” “Carry On,” “Out on the Street”), two by Bolder (“Fools,” “It Ain’t Easy”), and two Box–Bolder–Hensley joint-writes (“No Return,” “Won’t Have to Wait Too Long”). Of their 1972–98 studio albums (seventeen in all), Conquest is the only one without Kerslake. It’s also the last of four albums with Bolder and the only one with singer John Sloman and drummer Chris Slade.

Sessions occurred in late 1979 at Roundhouse, where John Gallen co-produced Conquest. Bron plays timpani on “Out on the Streets” and takes credit as the album’s “executive producer.” Former child singer Darren Burn (1961–91) was an assistant engineer on this and the 1979 Bronze release Bomber, the third studio album by Motörhead. Another assistant, David Kemp, also worked on 1980 Bronze titles by Aviator (Turbulence), Fingerprintz, and Leo Sayer (Living In a Fantasy).

Conquest sports an enhanced photo of the band by Martin Poole, who based the image on the Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo by San Francisco News photographer Joe Rosenthal (1911–2006), who captured the moment on February 23, 1945, when US Marines raised the American flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in the Asia-Pacific theater of World War II. Poole and illustrator Linda Curry, both also worked on 1980 Bronze covers by Hawkwind and recent signees Girlschool.

Uriah Heep lifted “Carry On” as the lead-off single, backed with the non-album “Been Hurt,” a Hensley song first cut by the Lawton lineup than re-recorded during the Conquest sessions. In Germany, Bronze issued “Feelings” as a second single (also backed with “Been Hurt”). Conquest peaked at No. 11 in Norway and went Top 40 in Germany and the UK. The album was not released in North America.


“Love Stealer”

On June 20, 1980, Uriah Heep issued the standalone a-side “Love Stealer,” a song by the team of Phil Wainman and Richard Myhill that was first recorded in 1976 by Hello and recently covered by ex-Stories singer Ian Lloyd. Cliff Richard later cut a hi-tech version for his 1983 album Silver. This was Heep’s first of three songs cut with Canadian Gregg Dechert, who served as their keyboardist for eight months. The b-side is the Conquest opener “No Return.”


“Think It Over”

On January 16, 1981, Uriah Heep released the standalone single “Think It Over,” a Bolder–Sloman single backed with “My Joanna Needs Tuning (Inside Out),” a song group-credited to the Dechert–Slade–Sloman lineup. This would be Heep’s last recording with Bolder and the three newer members.


1982–1983

Mick Box – guitars, backing vocals
Lee Kerslake – drums, backing vocals
Bob Daisley – bass, backing vocals
John Sinclair – keyboards, backing vocals
Peter Goalby – vocals


Abominog

Uriah Heep released their fourteenth album, Abominog, in March 1982 on Bronze and Mercury. It features four group-credited originals: “Too Scared to Run,” “Chasing Shadows,” “Hot Persuasion,” and “Sell Your Soul.” Side one wraps with “Running All Night (with the Lion),” a re-arranged song that originates from Sinclair’s prior band, Lion, and joint credited here to the current Heep lineup and Lion frontman Gary Farr. The closing track, “Think It Over,” is a remake of Heep’s 1981 non-album a-side, recorded here without its writers (Bolder and Sloman).

Abominog also contains covers of recent songs by Russ Ballard (“On the Rebound”),  Bliss Band (“That’s the Way That It Is”), John Cougar (“Hot Night in a Cold Town”), and  Sue Saad & the Next (“Prisoner”). “Hot Night,” by the songwriters Geoffrey Cushing-Murray and Richard Littlefield, is one of two non-originals on Cougar’s 1980 fourth album Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did.

“Prisoner” first appeared on the 1980 Planet Records release Sue Saad and the Next, written by Next members James Lance and Tony Riparetti with outsider D. B. Cooper. Sheena Easton covers the song on her 1981 self-titled debut album. Despite some melodic similarities, “Prisoner” is not the namesake song from the 1978 murder drama Eyes of Laura Mars, written by Karen Lawrence (of hard-rockers 1994) and sung by Barbra Streisand.

Uriah Heep placed “On the Rebound” on the a-side of the maxi-single Abominog Junior, which features identical cover art to the album and contains two exclusive b-sides: the Small Faces cover “Tin Soldier” and the group-written “Son of a Bitch.” Months later, Todd Rundgren covered “Tin Soldier” on his late 1982 release The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. “On the Rebound” first appeared on Ballard’s 1979 fourth solo album Barnet Dogs.

Uriah Heep lifted “That’s the Way That It Is” as the album’s second single (b/w “Hot Persuasion”). Bliss Band keyboardist–singer Paul Bliss wrote the song and made it the final track on his group’s 1979 second album Neon Smiles. In Heep’s MTV-rotated video for the song, they mime in an abandoned warehouse and play a leather-clad biker gang that face off with female counterparts.

The Abominog sessions took place between October and December 1981 at the Roundhouse, where Ashley Howe produced, engineered, and mixed the album in succession with titles by Toyah Willcox and Wishbone Ash. The assistant engineer, Nick Rogers, worked on 1980–82 titles by Angel Witch, The Q-Tips, The Vapors, and the first two albums by The Beat.


Head First

Uriah Heep released their fifteenth album, Head First, in May 1983 on Bronze and Mercury. It opens with “The Other Side of Midnight,” joint-written by the five members, who also group-composed “Sweet Talk” with input from John’s wife Linda Sinclair. Outside writer Tom Jackson the “Stay on Top.” Side one also contains covers of Bryan Adams (“Lonely Nights”) and John O’Banion (“Love is Blind”), the latter by songwriter Joey Carbone. Side two contains five originals: three joint-written by the band minus Kerslake (“Roll-Overture,” “Red Lights,” “Rollin’ the Rock”) and two with Lee’s input (“Straight Through the Heart,” “Weekend Warriors”).

Uriah Heep recorded Head First between January and March 1983 with Howe and Rogers. Sessions were split between Roundhouse Studios and The Manor, a mansion facility in Shipton-on-Cherwell owned by Virgin co-founder Richard Branson. “Roll-Overture” features guest percussionist Frank Ricotti, a veteran sessionist and library musician who once cut an album with ELO‘s Michael d’Albuquerque and recently played on titles by Clannad, Elkie Brooks, Gerry Rafferty, Kiki Dee, and John Miles (Play On).

Illustrator Peter Goodfellow did the Head First cover art, which depicts Monument Valley, Arizona, as a striped desert with West Mitten Butte (back left) and a superimposed guilotine (back right), plus a crawling lizard (foreground). The back cover features bent member pics by Fin Costello, superimposed on a mountain valley photograph by Martin Poole. Goodfellow did earlier cover art for Beggars Opera (Pathfinder), Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Batti Mamzelle, and the 1978 rock opera Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds.

Uriah Heep lifted “Lonely Nights” as the first single (b/w “Weekend Warriots”). The original version appears on Bryan Adams’ 1981 second solo album You Want It, You Got It.

“Stay on Top” appeared in August as the second single, backed with the non-album “Playing for Time,”a group-written number.


1984–1985

Daisley cleared out for a returning Bolder


Equator

Uriah Heep released their sixteenth album, Equator, on March 12, 1985, on Portrait and Columbia. It’s their first album comprised solely of group-written originals and their longest studio disc up to this time (at 46:20). 

Sessions took place between August and October 1984 at Battery Studios (London) and Jacobs StudiosJacobs Studios (Farnham) with two weeks of additional sessions in January 1985 at Genetic Studios (Reading). Equator was produced and engineered by (Synclavier programmer) Tony Platt, a recent soundman for Motörhead and the newer metal bands Manowar, Mass, and Shy. The assistant engineer at Battery, Stephen McLaughlin, also has credits on 1985 albums by A Flock of Seagulls, Joan Armatrading, Justin Hayward, Marc Almond (Stories of Johnny), and a standalone single by Stranglers frontman Hugh Cornwell.

Veteran cover artist Bill Smith did the packing for Equator, which has a red–black scheme (cover and inner-sleeve) and a spherical filigree designed (front and back). Smith also did recent covers for Billy Squier, Fashion, Genesis (self-titled), Gina X, Loose Ends, and Queen.

Uriah Heep lifted “Rockarama” as the first single, backed with the non-album group original “Backstage Girl.”

“Poor Little Rich Girl” followed in May as the album’s second single (b/w “Bad Blood”). It features Fairlight programming by Gary Moberly, who also has credits on 1985–86 albums by ABC, Drum Theatre, The Monroes, and The The.


Raging Silence

Uriah Heep released their seventeenth album, Raging Silence, in May 1989 on Legacy and Enigma.

Recorded December 1988-March 1989 Studio PRT Studios, Boathouse Studios, Rooster Studios, London, UK

Richard Dodd – producer, engineer, arrangements with Uriah Heep
Ashley Howe – pre-production engineer, arrangements with Uriah Heep

Phil Lanzon – keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocals on single B-side “Miracle Child” & “Mr. Majestic”, string arrangements on “When the War Is Over”

“Hold Your Head Up”
Released: April 1989 backed with the non-album “Miracle Child”
“Blood Red Roses”
Released: July 1989


Discography:

  • …Very ‘eavy…Very ‘umble (1970)
  • Salisbury (1971)
  • Look at Yourself (1971)
  • Demons and Wizards (1972)
  • The Magician’s Birthday (1972)
  • Live (2LP, 1973)
  • Sweet Freedom (1973)
  • Wonderworld (1974)
  • Return to Fantasy (1975)
  • High and Mighty (1976)
  • Firefly (1977)
  • Innocent Victim (1977)
  • Fallen Angel (1978)
  • Conquest (1980)
  • Abominog (1982)
  • Head First (1983)
  • Equator (1985)
  • Raging Silence (1989)
  • Different World (1991)
  • Sea of Light (1995)
  • Sonic Origami (1998)
  • Wake the Sleeper (2008)
  • Into the Wild (2011)
  • Outsider (2014)
  • Living the Dream (2018)

Sources:

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