‘Eep Go Acoustic

Author — Mark Plummer. Melody Maker, April 1, 1972*.

‘Eep Go Acoustic

URIAH HEEP people will be well aware of the track from their last album, “I Wanna Be Free,” and its first line — “As I wake up every day with no new songs to play.” For non fans it seemed that way, an incessant stiff chugging beat that had young fans freaking at the mere hint of yet another long loud and repetitive guitar solo. Almost a pleasure, perhaps, to think that they did not have any new songs to play.

But they have plenty, and a new album is almost, bar a couple of tracks and the mixing, in the can. But at the same time, Uriah Heep have been going through quite a few changes since the days of “Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble.”

Following the departure of drummer, Keith Baker, and bass guitarist, Paul Newman, Uriah’s jackboot music has gone through changes, and has grown up into a funky unit.

“Eavy” could easily have done the band in for good, it’s just not on any more — the old loud stuff. Uriah Heep have gone through more than their share of criticism from the rock press, and in their conversations with press men this becomes obvious.

Last week they were rehearsing in one of the many rehearsal rooms that hide among the vegetables and barrow boys in London’s fated Covent Garden market. In a sweaty little cellar with film lights taking over one corner of the room, Heep’s own gear bashed and battered from too long to the road, stood down the other end buzzing from the strain of overwork. It was not the nicest of places to play in, let alone sit and talk music, so it was decided to vacate the place and move down to a little pub just around the corner from the Lyceum where they sell a fairly good beef stew.

So, what’s new? This week for the first time Uriah Heep introduce their new acoustic set in Germany, which may cause problems, but which will be a great relief for the band. The thing being that they realise you can only go so far on a certain format before it becomes boring and stale.

Working at the two facets of contemporary rock will help offset that state of mind that creeps up on working musicians. It will also wreck the machinery that makes a band like Uriah Heep sound the same on every gig, as they become more and more polished in playing the notes.

“What we’ll be doing is going out and doing an acoustic set with a couple of guitars and grand piano. I think it’ll just be a short half hour set,” said vocalist David Byron.

“Also it gives us a chance to do something else that we I want to do. I think with the acoustic set it will give us a chance to think a little more about what we are doing. I don’t know how it’s going to go down with the Germans though!”

David points out though that they are still very much into their own style of rock. “We like the energetic stuff, our kind of rock, you know. It’s a lot more hypnotic now, and there are more harmonies going with the singing. We’ve got a new rhythm section in the band, and they’re very funky. The sound has changed.”

The band have learnt a lot in their short life in the rock and roll world. Their first album looking back was pretty dreadful. Now they are getting around to understanding the business of recording and writing songs. It’s got more subtle, rather than just plain big and brash, and they’ve sussed out things like the way the Beatles occasionally dropped the third part harmony line leaving it open for the public to sing. Clever stuff, David points out.

Uriah Heep are also moving closer to the pure pop market. Like, they have recorded a single “The Wizard” with the charts in mind and made no qualms about appearing on Top of the Pops. Anyway, David wants them to be a teeny bopper band, he says jokingly taking the mick out of their young, heavy, grey-coated friends.

“As far as we are concerned we are a commercial group. At Top of the Pops last week this young guuy asked me why we were there. I don’t think he understood when I explained it was because we wanted to have a hit record.”

And talking of commercial music, what was their side of the T. Rex incident in Chicago?

“First we were asked to headline the evening over T. Rex, because we are a well-known band in Chicago and most of the people who were going that evening would have been pulled by us. Then we were asked to open, and again we refused. We booked to play in the middle for fifty minutes after Jackie Lomax and before T. Rex.

“We then found that five minutes was being lopped off our time at intervals, and the next thing we knew was the local promoter was asking us to play just 35 minutes. After a lot of hustling we agreed. Playing a set like that is difficult, it’s difficult to get it exactly to time and we ran over a little.

“We did not play one encore that evening. It was all done by managers and publicity men. We feel nothing but sorry for T. Rex.

“Three weeks into our next American tour and we will be out of debt at last!”

* Thanks to Konstantinos Takos and Mac Steagall for helping to find out the exact date of the publication and the title of the magazine.

Author: Elena Stepanova

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