ALOHA Ken Hensley - Running Blind Review July issue
He was once the primeval father of Uriah Heep but when the popularity of Heep, being without singer David Byron, decreased, he left the band. Hensley made numerous solo albums and recently co-worked with former Uriah Heep singer John Lawton. That particular CD was quite nice. This cannot be said of Running Blind. It’s full of stuff we have heard before. On top of that the performance is miserable. Singing is something Ken Hensley never had a perfect command of and on this album it’s painfully evident that all modern production techniques are unknown to him. Apparently, this curly-headed convert doesn’t know there are only a handful uncritical Heep fans waiting for him. But I think that even those will run away after having listened to this.
Mostly Autumn – Heroes Never
Die (IO pages)
Mostly Autumn have been very
productive lately. After the live CD and DVD “The Story So Far” and the CD
“Music Inspired by the Lord Of the Rings”, this is their fourth release in a
year’s time. “Heroes Never Die, The Anthology” is a compilation CD with
twelve re-recorded songs. According to Mostly Autumn, this CD is the definite
introduction to Mostly Autumn’s music. Since my acquaintance to this band,
their music has touched me through the diversity of styles and atmospheres:
rock, pop and folk are the key elements. This collection is well assembled. We
can find endearing rock songs like “We Come and We Go” (sung by Heather
Findlay). “Please” and “Noise From My Head”. Alongside solemn songs like
“Evergreen” with its beautiful bass melodies, the piano-dominated “The
Great Blue Pearl” and “Half the Mountain” with the beautiful flute solo.
Also the longer, symphonic songs get their turn: “Shrinking Violet” with
folk influences, “Goodbye Alone” and the marvellous “Heroes Never Die”
with the unsurpassable ending. The new recordings have gained in strength and do
justice to the music. It’s not an essential buy for those that have Mostly
Autumn’s CDs but for those that want to get to know the band, this is indeed a
good way to start.
issue Headache interview Uriah Heep (page
One of the most legendary bands which still don’t rest on their laurels, band members who have such big smiles on stage as if they have only just started, that band is Uriah Heep. The band that have performed in 47 different countries, a band that have built up a network of fans around the world, a band that are faithfully invited by the fan club to Holland each and every year. We were invited to the Borstrock festival at Nieuw Vossemeer to witness one of their shows and for an interview with guitarist Mick Box and singer Bernie Shaw. We didn’t need to be invited twice and off we were to commence a journey from Groningen to Zeeland.
does the name Uriah Heep come from?
It comes from a great English
writer, Charles Dickens. One of his novels is called ‘David Copperfield’ in
which an old accountant is named Uriah Heep. We started using the name, say, at
Dickens’ 100th birthday. He may be dead but being such a literary celebrity,
his birthday was then celebrated. There were book clubs, posters and films
throughout the country and we were in the process of changing the band’s name.
Our manager at the time took his kids to the film version of David Copperfield.
In it was of course the character Uriah Heep and he thought the name to be
great. At first we weren’t that eager, but we figured it didn’t look bad on
the big screen, so OK, let’s do it. It’s nice having something of a great
writer and taking that with you around the world. A great many people are
infected by knowing this and start reading Dickens’ novels so that’s pretty
it correct that you’re working on a new album?
Yes, that’s true. This year we have decided only to perform in weekends, mainly festivals and we will still play at festivals in Italy, Portugal, Brazil, Switzerland and Germany. But weekends only, so we’ll have time in between to write new songs, which we are presently compiling. We’ll try to be in the studio in June to record it all. Normally we spend some three months in the studio after which we release a new album. This time we’ll handle things differently. We’ll do some live shows, some work in the studio, some composing and so on. By the end of the year we hope to have rounded up the new album. It’ll probably be finished at the end of the year or else at the start of the new year.
you say something more about the new album? In what direction do the songs fit?
Well, we try to resemble the Backstreet Boys, a little bit of Westlife and Club 7. We’ll spend three months in the dance studio and spend three months at the hairdresser’s, that way we can’t miss! Haha! Mate, it will be a typical Uriah Heep album.
do you look back to the 70s?
With a big grin on my face, haha! They were great! Let me put it this way: I have survived, hahaha! I can still retell the stories, what a great time. The bands of those days were Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Heep and so on. No rules, everyone just did what they felt like.
you say that was the time real music was still made?
In the 70s it was called the music business, but more music was made. Now, in 2002, it is more business than music unfortunately. The whole concept has changed and that’s a shame. Music that’s being released these days has been put together in such a way that it’s styled into a certain product, with a touch of talent here and there, just enough to sell albums, but where will they be in 10 years’ time? That is a shame.
got the idea to play together with John Lawton and Ken Hensley, in London last
Every year we put on a show in London, we want to make a yearly event out of it at which Uriah Heep have guests on stage to make a big party out of it. We called it “The Magician’s Birthday Party”. The second time John and Ken participated, because we had the feeling this was something the fans had always wanted to see and the only way to keep them in control is to give them what they want, haha. Because it is something the fans want to see over and over again, it was recorded on DVD, so if they want to see it again, they can watch the DVD. Ken has moved on with his own things, so have Heep , so we have rounded things up. I do want to mention that we are still in touch with former members of Heep.
you keep on doing tours and recordings the way you did in the 70s?
We are Uriah Heep through and through and we are always busy. Last year we did 156 live shows, so… We are a true live band and love being on stage. Forget about the interviews, we talk on stage haha! (OK, thanks for the interview and I’ll put the mike on stage haha). Just kidding, we communicate through music and that’s what it’s all about.
you never get tired touring?
You never get tired when you tour with the best band in the world. If music is your hobby and you can turn your hobby into work…. There is no better life my friend, when you have had the chance to do so well over thirty years.
you still have the same feeling as thirty years ago?
Absolutely, I still get a kick out of it.
do you compile a setlist after thirty years?
That is a nightmare come true! We get together, one shouts this, another one shouts that, aaaagh! It’s no longer writing down a number of songs, the set has to flow. It has to be balanced.
the fans expect you to play the classics, right?
So we do so and have joy in that. We’re not like “we don’t do that”. Because of that we are here and we thank a lot to the successes of those songs. We also thank a lot to the fans that travel along so we play new songs too, they provide a good balance. Otherwise you’d turn into an ‘oldies show’ which is something you can’t keep up for a long time.
it true that Ken Hensley, together with you of course, was the driving force
behind Uriah Heep?
He wrote a couple of good songs, but to say ‘main man’? There are two sides to it. It was the enchantment caused by five people. Ken was able to create something very basic with his acoustic guitar, then the band joined him and all of a sudden there was a ‘monster’. The chemistry made it all happen. Take the chemistry away and you won’t easily succeed. Anyway, he left and we moved on. We’ve played some 16/17 years without him, so it doesn’t feel like a loss or something. He has a completely different style of life these days. He is no longer the rock ‘n’ roller of those days but a born-again Christian and has different values. We’re still the same, real road warriors, you know. Completely different worlds.
the ‘new’ Heep that have been together for 16 years, have the same
That’s why we’re still here. We’re all friends and get along well. There are a lot of bands where there is a lot of tension and that kind of crap. I can’t waste energy like that. You have to set your goals and enjoy it, that’s what it’s all about. Music is here to enjoy and to move people, especially when it can have a special meaning to people.
fan club is very fanatical and work their butts off for you, something the band
is closely related to. How do you feel about that?
We feel close to our fan club because these people mean a lot to us. To be honest, I’ve always said that we’d only be a sound in a rehearsal studio if we wouldn’t have fans. It’s the fans that love the music, that inspire you. This way both ends win and it’s important to recognise the origins of your music. The fan club makes us feel good. To the fans Uriah Heep is a big a part of their lives as it is for us. It makes sense that we are so closely related to the fan club.
lot of bootlegs have been released, by all kinds of labels, even official
labels. How do you feel about that?
It’s something we don’t agree with, because they’re bad recordings and people are cheated. We don’t think that’s right. That’s the reason we’ve issued our own bootlegs, ones we approve of. We then say: it’s a good recording, recorded by unprofessional equipment. If you want to have it, you can buy it. You can’t stop the people who do this though, not even the official labels. You start to wonder why this is all happening. It has been released 15 million times, as a 2-pack, a 3-pack, in a special cover, in an aluminium box or whatever. Sometimes they try to involve us but we try to stay away from that as much as possible. Everyone is free to choose what to buy but I think they should reconsider how to put something like that on the market, in a way to give it more value. Then it would at least stand for something. This is not the case though and there is no quality control whatsoever.
you keep up with the current music industry? I mean, over the past thirty years
you have seen the music business grow, collapse, grow…?
If there is good music, we try to find it haha! You know, the music industry is so superficial these days, just like McDonald’s, fast, fast, fast, done and gone. It’s a pity. In the 70s, when you signed a record deal, it would be for seven albums. The label grew with the artist and vice versa. Creatively it was wonderful, because it could go both ways. You had the opportunity to develop the creative potential of a band. Now you’re being told what to do, the music, the kind of lyrics and if not you lose the deal. The industry is suicidal because this way nothing new evolves. There are a few labels that work differently but not enough. Many of them work with a special formula, which is good, because this way the so-called pop-rock stays among the people but it contains no emotion. Their souls haven’t been put into it. The whole music industry needs to be stirred into activity. Now we have these pop idols in apple-pie order and that’s disgusting, terrible. But it’s a profitable money machine and no doubt it won’t change. A shame, because true talents can’t break through this way. Still, it may change because the market isn’t truly stabile. It could change in three to five years time. I do hope so.
you have a final message to our readers?
Yeah, if you have to have a Headache, have the magazine Headache!! After the show I’ll have a couple of pints and should I wake up with a headache tomorrow morning, I’ll think of you hahaha!
Martjo & Stefan
Heep The Magician’s Birthday Party DVD
(IO Pages, July issue)
It was a special night December 7,
2001. Because of the Heep convention the band performed at Shepherd’s Bush in
London. It was obvious the band felt like partying. ‘Stealin’’ always does
well but in ‘Return To Fantasy’ I keep missing the Moog. This evening’s
first surprise is ‘Tales’, to which Thijs van Leer adds a beautiful piece of
flute playing. If it had been up to me, he could have left the yodling out. A
couple of ‘new’ songs are played like ‘Between Two Worlds’ and the
ballad ‘Mistress Of All Times’. The latter matches Thijs’ transverse
flute. It gets even more interesting when Ken Hensley takes his place behind the
Hammond organ. The still whirling ‘July Morning’ gets an extra dimension
through Ken’s playing and this performance makes this the ultimate Heep song.
We can see Hensley play the acoustic guitar in a beautiful performance of
‘Paradise/The Spell’ and hear Lee Kerslake sing from behind the drum kit,
something he does meritoriously. That Hensley still has something to go on with
again by playing the slide guitar, is shown on ‘Circle Of Hands’. The centre
part of ‘The Magician’s Birthday’ is traditionally for Mick Box. His
guitar solo shows we still have to take him into account. Once the solo
transfers into vocals, it’s clear who this is: John Lawton. His looks have
changed considerably in 23 years’ time but his voice is instantly recognised.
How brilliant to hear a strong version of ‘Sympathy’, a song we had almost
forgotten. ‘Free ‘n’ Easy’ concludes the show, ‘Logical Progression’
has been added as a bonus track. Altogether this is a very strong DVD by a band
that had been given up years ago. Something that is completely unjust and Uriah
Heep proves this in a convincing way. By the way, the concert is also available
on CD (but songs are left out on that one) and a set of CD and DVD is available
magazine Uriah Heep “A Thousand
Times Easy Livin’ “
David Byron already knew it in 1976: “You
Can’t Keep a Good Band Down”. He had foresight because booze, drugs, the
Grim Reaper and numerous line-up changes made Uriah Heep shake many times. They
never fell though. This is thanks to one man, founder and guitarist Mick Box.
you tell us what made you pick up the guitar?
loved music from a very early age, although I was more into jazz then. I saw
different bands like Johnny Kid and The Pirates. Mickey Green was their
guitarist and I thought he was great. I wanted to do something like that. I
bought a guitar and took a couple of lessons. After each lesson my guitar
teacher gave me some exercises to do which were supposed to keep me busy
practising at home. However, I could do the exercises within an hour and I
didn’t feel like waiting for another lesson for a whole week. There was no
choice but to teach myself how to play. In those days Les Paul and Mary Ford,
you know THE Les Paul of the guitar and his wife Mary Ford pioneered at doing
things at double speed. What they did at normal speed, I learnt playing fast.
Only later I discovered that they didn’t actually play that fast, it was a
recording trick in the studio. By perseverance I learnt the technique of playing
are an example to guitarists who like to keep it simple. Who are your heroes?
Jimi Hendrix but I prefer people like Jeff Beck and Django Reinhardt, people
from the jazz world. I like that style. You can hear that influence in a song
like ‘The Park’. It’s an art to combine everything in a proper way, so
that you don’t play too flashy and not too simple. That way is stays
accessible. The fun part is that people try to copy your style. The best
compliment I can get is when people recognise my style when they hear our
albums. They then know for sure they hear me and that’s fun to hear.
if you have such a recognisable style, why have you never made a solo album?
I’ve always been too busy with Uriah Heep. And when I had the time, it boiled
down to playing on other people’s albums, like David Byron’s. At the moment
I also manage the band a bit so I have no time at all. One day I will do
something like that though.
that will then be the Mick Box set?
that’s a good one. With my surname a lot can be done of course.
you be playing the acoustic set of Acoustically Driven live in concert?
love to but logistically it will be very difficult. Al those extra musicians,
like a string quartet and background singers, would make it very costly, not to
mention finding someone who finances such a production. On top of that the
people who would need to be involved wouldn’t all be available at the same
time you want to take them on tour. I don’t think it would be successful as a
stripped down version. We’d only do it if we can take it all the way. It was a
lovely night though and I’d love to do it again some day.
‘Sonic Origami’ the song ‘Between Two Worlds’ can be found. This song is
dedicated to deceased ex-members Gary Thain and David Byron. Why has it taken so
long to dedicate a song to them?
only do such a thing when you feel good about it. Only then it’s as honest and
sincere as possible. You can’t force such a thing, especially not when others
think you should do it. And why should we have done it sooner? There is a time
and place for everything, including this song. You do things because you think
they’re good, not because they should be done.
you tell something about your time in Moscow? You were the first band that
performed there as a Western rock band.
rather breathtaking because we played in front of 180,000 people. We didn’t
realise that we could be successful there and that we had such a big popularity.
We played in front of people who were crying because they thought they’d never
have the chance to see Uriah Heep in concert. It means so much to them. People
over there bought our albums on the black market, even when it cost them two
months of salary. They are true fans. It was also wonderful to see that music
knows no borders. Music is higher than politics. That was the most important
message of that mission.
you say something yet about the new album?
to structure this year in such a way that we’d have time to record an album.
That’s why we only did tours of just a few days, like in Holland, Austria and
Italy. In the meantime we’re working on new songs. In November we’ll get
into the studio. The new album would then be ready at the end of the year but
whether it’ll be released by then, I don’t know. Businesslike considerations
have to be made to determine when the album will be released, as we think of a
big European tour after the release.
we expect the same style as on ‘Sonic Origami’?
try to write in a specific style. We choose the songs that fit the band best.
must be a kind of chemistry between two people that write a song. Do you write
differently compared to the times when you co-wrote with Ken Hensley?
the same, no matter with whom. As long as you put enough ideas on the table.
Phil Lanzon for example comes up with a sequence run and I have a matching riff.
Suddenly a song rises from that. Often though good songs evolve from bad ideas.
You come up with something knowing it’s nothing really, but another one sees
it as a starting-point so it’ll go into a different direction altogether.
Making music is great.
you be doing a new Magician’s Birthday party?
to make a yearly event out of that. Last time Ken Hensley and John Lawton joined
in. Next time we may do something completely different. We may invite different
guest musicians. We always try to make something special out of it, always
something we can get the fans involved in.
It’s a hell of a job to work it all out with all the different
sunk into their grave
different now. Has there ever been a moment in Uriah Heep’s long history that
you were fed up?
album ‘Conquest’. The line-up of that time didn’t work out. John Sloman
was a good singer but didn’t sing the songs correctly. Musically it wasn’t
good. It was a situation I wasn’t happy with and which I needed to end. So, I
was at home, when my agent asked me why I didn’t throw in the towel. I would
be able to form my own band, the Mick Box band or something. I gave it some
serious thought and it would have been nice. But so many letters from fans kept
pouring in. People almost begged me to go on. For some people Uriah Heep was
part of their lives, while others had just discovered the band. They thought I
couldn’t sink Heep into their grave. Three days later I was phoned by Lee
Kerslake. He had left Ozzy Osbourne’s band and wanted to return to Heep. Bob
Daisley, Ozzy’s bass player, happily wanted to join Heep. Out of the blue the
prospect of the band was there again. I then recalled Peter Goalby from earlier
auditions. One phone call and it was set. John Sinclair was an old friend of
ours living in LA. He was a member of The Heavy Metal Kids, a band that had
often supported us on tour. He knew Uriah Heep and sort of knew what was going
on. So, there was a band again and off we went.
you never get fed up playing the old songs?
have played “Easy Livin’ “ over a thousand times, it’s a sign the song
is still good. The enthusiasm comes from the crowds, not just us. There’s
interaction. People still go wild when we play that song. Something we get
energy from to continue. There’s simply no time to get bored with such hungry
your favourite song?
I have no
favourites. I leave that up to the fans. One song can be more successful than
another and some songs are live better than others, but in general I love all
songs. Because how can you surpass an eventual favourite song? We want to make
good music and there are still areas that need to be discovered.