David Byron - vocals; Mick Box - guitar, vocals; Gary Thain - bass, vocals; Lee Kerslake - drums, vocals; Ken Hensley - keyboards, vocals
When they were at their most popular circa 1974, when this concert was recorded for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, Uriah Heep was consistently selling out large theaters and mid-sized arenas. This show, recorded in San Diego, was captured in one of the band's strongest U.S. markets. Presenting a radio friendly blend of hard rock and British progressive rock, the Heep (as they were called) had become a rock 'n' roll mainstay on FM stations across the U.S. with songs like "Easy Livin'," "Stealin'" and "July Morning."
Those songs, and many others, make up this concert, which is really a greatest hits collection recorded live. "Heep was as powerful as any band anywhere," said keyboardist, vocalist and chief writer, Ken Hensley in July 1999, when this show was originally re-mixed for CD release, "and this night, so long ago, was a powerful night. Not perfect, but powerful!" Hensley is referring to the fact that the show was recorded with a few technical glitches and a less than perfect performance by the band, but what is lacking in musical perfection is more than made up for by a highly energetic performance.
Featuring the classic Heep lineup of Hensley, bassist Gary Thain, guitarist Mick Box, drummer Lee Kerslake, and vocalist David Byron, this show features the career music of a band that saw considerable commercial success, but never crossed over to the big league like other bands from that era like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Emerson Lake & Palmer, The Who, and the Stones. In addition, they were almost universally hated by rock critics, who later had to eat their words when Uriah Heep released five gold albums that were in the U.S. Top 40 between 1972 and 1975.
"The critics hated us, particularly when we started to accomplish all the things they said we would never accomplish," said Hensley. "But, all we ever listened to were our fans, the ones that bought the tickets and the records."
The band was formed in the late 1960s by Byron and Box, initially calling themselves Spice. They re-named the band Uriah Heep from the name of a character in the Charles Dickens novel, David Copperfield. They then asked fellow Brit Ken Hensley to join, and he brought along drummer Lee Kerslake, his bandmate in the Bournemouth, U.K. based club group, the Gods. (The Gods were also home to future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor and Greg Lake, prior to King Crimson and ELP.) An early drummer was Nigel Olsson (who would spend 40 years on and off drumming for Elton John), and over their nearly 40 year existence, the band has had over 36 members. Today, only Mick Box remains from the original lineup.
Vocalist David Byron, who sang on all the radio hits the band ever had, developed a serious drinking problem and by 1977, he was out of the band. The group continued with new vocalist John Lawton, but failed to have any more hits. By the mid and late-1980s, most of the classic lineup had left, including Lee Kerslake who joined Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz in 1981. Vocalist David Byron launched a failed solo career in 1978, but his drinking caught up with him and he died in 1985.
This classic recording has many highlights, including the aforementioned hits, and other classics such as "Sweet Lorraine," "Gypsy," "Sweet Freedom," "Look At Yourself" and an encore medley of classic rock 'n' roll hits that includes "Roll Over Beethoven," "Blues Suede Shoes," "Hound Dog," and "At The Hop."