British rock band,URIAH HEEP debuted in 1970 with the release of one of hard rock’s milestones, “Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble”, and has since sold in excess of 40 million albums worldwide. They constantly tour the world, playing up to 125 shows a year to more than 500,000 fans. The band’s live set features the classic tracks from the ’70s and is a musical journey from the band’s beginnings to the present day. The “Heep” still has original member, Mick Box playing guitar and has no plans to retire.
Their name stems from a character from Charles Dickens’ book, David Copperfield…His character is notable for his cloying humility, obsequiousness, and insincerity, making frequent references to his own “‘umbleness”. The debut was not popular with rock critics (especially in the USA where one reviewer infamously promised to commit suicide “if this band makes it”) but in retrospect the attitude towards it changed. Their timing in the rock world was perfect…; their only problem was bands like Deep Purple,Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull were more applicable to an American rock n’ roll fan. “Those unfamiliar with Uriah Heep may want to try out hearing their classic song, “Stealin”. The track may meander a bit in the beginning but it will reply with one hell of a sucker punch once it starts going. The song was written by Heep keyboardist, Ken Hensley and it appeared on their concept album, “Sweet Freedom”…
Anyway, the dynamics on this song are just perfect. There’s the slow build, pulsating with anticipation and tension, drawn to just the right length to make you feel the pull without being over-long. Then the rocking section is a triumph in head-bobbing action, deftly and daringly tied to the first half of the song by starting vocally on a return to the sublime backing vocals interlude.
A concise, triumphant instrumental passage—oh! those two consecutive rising guitar phrases!—sits between David Byron’s as-always incredible vocals, which eventually lead to a payoff of a vocal ad-lib conclusion. The lyrics to “Stealin” may have a “Dylanesque” irony to it. The line, “I shoulda’ been buyin’ instead of stealin”. This sort of show-don’t-tell morality tale is a stunning single that in any remotely musical world would be a staple for any self-respecting classic rock radio station.