Classic Releases from Uriah Heep Related Bands & Solo. [Part One]

Former Uriah Heep singer John Lawton has died aged 74

I figured I could simply do a Top 10 ‘Most Necessary’ or ‘Must Hear’, or Favorites, but really – that would be impossible. I jotted down 30+ albums and went from there. I quickly eliminated the Bronze solo albums of Ken Hensley and David Byron – these feature Heep members, engineers, etc.. and are pretty much already part of the Heep discography. I also excluded posthumous releases and live ‘reunion’ albums. There are some obvious mentions here, but also [hopefully] a few rarities and things you may not be familiar with. There are a few Heep alumni who’ve had such lengthy, successful careers [John Wetton, John Lawton, Bob Daisley, Ken Hensley..] that I had to pick a few from such big big discographies. [Of course, this all leaves room for a Part 2 here].
Drop a note – would like to hear suggestions not included here…..

Gods – Genesis [1968]
The Gods were a London based band that Ken Hensley wrote, sang, and played organ in. The band at times also included Lee Kerslake, Greg Lake, John and Brian Glascock, and in a very early version – Mick Taylor [Stones]! The band’s 2 albums featured Hensley, as well as guitarist/singer & writer Joe Konas, Lee Kerslake, and John Glasscock. The Gods albums were recorded at Abbey Road Studios and produced by David Paramor. The debut album Genesis featured psychedelic rock and pop, with gems here like Towards The Skies, Misleading Colors, Looking Glass, and Candles Getting Shorter. The Gods also issued a number of singles which weren’t included on the LPs, and a few of their best such as Somewhere In The Street and Real Love Guaranteed, as well as a cover of the Beatles Hey Bulldog [the latter are included on CD re-issue of this album]

Lucifer’s Friend – Lucifer’s Friend [1970]
The debut from German rockers, who were fronted by and introduced rock fans to Englishman John Lawton – who would later front Heep. this album was every bit as heavy as Heep’s debut and Purple at the time, but beyond this the band strayed into jazz, fusion, pop, etc… this being a classic early proto metal album. Ride The Sky would become the band’s most popular song, and tracks like Toxic Shadows and In The Time of Job When Mammon Was A Yippie were all great early heavy rock.

Weed – Weed [1971]
This rarity is all Ken Hen Hensley — songs, keyboards, vocals, and presumably most of the guitars. not brought to light til the early 90s through the Uriah Heep Appreciation Society. Ken doesn’t talk much about it, as it was a ‘mercenary’ project for money [between Heep albums]; but it’s heavy and tracks like Sweet Morning Light and My Dream are classic Hensley tunes.

National Head Band – Albert One [1971]
This LP is the lone release from NHB, which included Lee Kerslake on drums, as well as Jan Schelhaas [keyboards – pre Caravan], Neil Ford, and Dave Paull [bass – pre Jonesy].
A neat album of rock, folk, country, prog, with lots of harmonies … Lee co-writes the pop-folky tune Too Much Country Water, but it is the album’s final track Mister Jesus – which highlights the band’s playing, particularly the first few minutes of heavy prog.

Fable – Fable [1973]
the lone LP by this pop band fronted by Peter Goalby – who wrote, sang, played some guitar and mandolin. A very likeable album with a wide variety of tunes. The single Madolin is probably the best cut here, with the intro sounding like Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” [a song that came later – but Queen recorded at the same studio on off hours, while Fable was there. hmm] . there’s also the CSN inspired Four Horsemen, the rocker Hard Life, and pop gems like She Knows How To Love Me, and Google Eye.

King Crimson – Red [1974]
Before Heep John Wetton had made a name for himself, largely in King Crimson, playing and singing on a string of successful progressive albums, and this one – my favorite, and i believe it was John’s favorite. Red is a classic track, and Starless would become a big part of John’s live set for years – either in Asia or solo.

Spiders From Mars – Spiders From Mars [1976]
Prior to joining Heep, Trevor Bolder was the bass player in David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars. He played on Bowie’s best albums, but when that ended – Bolder, along with Woody Woodmansey, took the Spiders’ name and recorded this lone album. They band also included Pete McDonald [vocals] and Dave Black [guitar], and Mike Garson guesting on keyboards. Trevor Bolder would write [or co-write] more than half of the album. A bit rockier than the Bowie stuff, and a bit funky in places, a decent listen, even just for curiosity’s sake. Neat album art, but the record didn’t do much, and the band didn’t last long. RIP – Trevor Bolder and Dave Black

Rough Diamond – Rough Diamond [1977]
the first band that David Byron fronted after being fired from Heep. it featured Dave Clempson [ex Colosseum], who didn’t get the Purple gig. this was over hyped and under appreciated. Byron was fired from the band too [they carried on as Champion]; a shame – I really like this one. Tracks like Lookin For You, Scared, Hobo, Lock & Key — very cool listening – great playing. Willie Bath [bass], Damon Butcher [keys], Geoff Britton [ex Wings, Drums].

Lone Star – Firing On All Six [1977]
Prior to Heep John Sloman was playing in a Canadian based band ‘Pulsar’ – that band also featured drummer Dixie Lee, both Lee and Sloman had previously played in Welsh band Lone Star, which also included Paul Chapman [pre UFO] on guitar!. This is Lone Star’s second [and final] studio album. A classic piece of prog and hard rock with The Ballad Of Crafty Jack, The Bells Of Berlin, All Of Us To All Of You. Cool silver cover.

Trapeze – Hold On [1979]
Prior to joining Heep Peter Goalby was in Trapeze for a few years [the band once fronted by Glenn Hughes]. He wrote a couple of tunes on this album, as well as shared vocals with Mel Galley, and played rhythm guitar. He would go on to record the follow up – Live In Texas. *This album had released some months previously in ’78 in Germany titled Running, which featured a series of photos of a nude model on the front

Grand Prix – Grand Prix [1980]
This British band released 3 albums in the early ’80s. It is the first album to feature Bernie Shaw, and it also featured Phil Lanzon – who wrote or co-wrote much of their material. Often listed as a ‘metal’ album, Grand Prix is more pomp, a bit of prog, ’80s radio rock. A shame this album never hit it big – a cool piece of ’80s rock, solid guitar, lots of keyboards and backing vocals, with songs like Which Way Did The Wind Blow, Westwind, Feel Like I Do. Following this debut album Bernie Shaw was replaced by Robin McAuley.  All 3 albums are well worth checking out.

Ozzy Osbourne – Diary Of A Madman [1981]
Following Lee Kerslake’s departure from the band in 1979, he would join the Blizzard of Ozz band, fronted by Ozzy Osbourne, and including young guitarist Randy Rhoads, and bass player Bob Daisley. Lee played with a renewed energy and heaviness from the previous few Heep LPs. He had a co-write on the first album, but would be credited as a co-writer on the entire Diary Of A Madman album. Sadly, he and Bob were removed from the band prior to the 2nd album’s release, and their playing credits and photos were not included. Many of Lee’s drum intros and performances are legendary on these albums – Over The Mountain, Little Dolls, SATO…

The Byron Band – On The Rocks [1981]
The last album released by Heep’s original frontman. The Byron Band was trying to catch up to the times, hard rock, with an interesting band including Robin George [guitar & co-writer], Bob Jackson [keys, ex Badfinger], and Mel Collins [ex King Crimson].  A decent album with tracks like Start Believing and How Do You Sleep, but failed to catch on at the time. Pretty neat cover as well and included poster at the time. CD re-issue included the singles that preceded the album. A 2nd album was demo’d, and was eventually issued years back through Robin George.

Lucifer’s Friend – Mean Machine [1981]
When Lawton left Heep he recorded a solo album, backed by members of LF. The follow up was a Lucifer’s Friend reunion album. It was a straight ahead hard-rock album, perhaps influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal at the time[?]. Great riffs, songs, and performances. Love this album!

Wishbone Ash – Twin Barrels Burning [1982]
When things went worse for Heep in 1981, Trevor Bolder left [needing work] and joined Wishbone Ash. He played on this one album [wrote as well, uncredited]. More of an attempt to mainstream the band at the time, a more hard-rock direction. Produced by Ashley Howe, who’d worked on most Heep albums [engineer, tape op] and who’d go on to produced Heep’s Abominog and Head First. A solid album, notable also is the track “Hold On” featuring Bolder on vocals — my favorite here [this would’ve sounded so good on an ’80s Heep album!]. *There are 2 versions of this album, as the US label insisted on a different mix and a different cover.

Blackfoot – Siogo [1983]
After a solo album that didn’t do much, Ken relocated to the US and in time joined Southern rockers Blackfoot. Siogo retained much of the band’s southern style, but with keyboards and a slightly more polished commercial approach. Ken wrote a few gems here, most notably the single Send Me An Angel [w/ Jack Williams].

Zar –Live Your LIfe Forever [1990]
Lawton had done so much over his career, but this album is classic metal that saw him belting out heavy ’80s metal better than anyone else. Heart Of The Night, Fire And Ice, Live Your LIfe Forever…. killer album; didn’t get released everywhere. Zar went on to make more albums – without JL [John guested on 1 track on the band’s 3rd album]. Re-released on CD years ago [accompanied with it’s predecessor – Rebel]. Highly recommended.

Ken Hensley – Blood On The Highway [2007]
Since his return to recording and performing, Ken has recorded some good albums, but Blood On The Highway stands out as it’s based on the story of being that ’70s rock star – the ups and downs, etc.. The songs all fit in the story [a few had been previously done, but re-worked here]. It also included a few guest singers – Glenn Hughes, Eve Gallagher, and John Lawton.

Berggren/Kerslake Band – The Sun Has Gone Hazy [2014]
Lee Kerslake left Heep at the end of 2006 due to health issues. this album is a bright light in his post Heep life. Along with singer/guitarist Stefan Berggren, Lee co-wrote and played on this fine album. His playing is superb and he contributed more great songwriting than he had for his past 2 decades in Heep.  A highly recommended Heep related gem.

Newton-Rainbow Project – License To Rock [2016]
Original Heep bass player Paul Newton never got the credit he deserved in those early days. He played on the band’s first 3 albums, and more importantly at the time – invited Ken Hensley to join [the band was Spice then]. He left, and very little was seen or heard again, until he appeared in the Uriah Heep Appreciation Society magazine. He then joined Hensley and Lawton on stage at Heepvention 2000, and has been a part of the Heep Legends gigs over the past several years. This album came out last year, a collaboration with singer/guitarist/writer Chris Rainbow. A good section of styles, and songs, and most notably includes 2 Heep classics re-done.

Phil Lanzon – If You Think I’m Crazy [2017]
After so many years, Phil Lanzon steps out with his own project. Phil has been largely responsible for writing or co-writing Heep’s material since he joined in 1986, so it’s a wonder that it took this long. Frankly – this album is fantastic! Lots of variety – ’70s pop, acoustic numbers, some great storied lyrics, and a few fine singers on this album. Highly recommended.


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