Abominog was Uriah Heep's fourteenth studio album excluding compilations. If ever there was an album that could (re)make or break a band, then this was it. By the beginning of 1981 Uriah Heep was dead in the water. The band had been through some terrible upheavals in recent months that culminated in the departure of the ever important Ken Hensley. Hensley had been with the band since the release of their first album Very 'Eavy Very 'Umble in 1970. He had also written many of the songs that catapulted the band to the dizzy heights of fame in the mid 70's.
During 1979-1980 Hensley had a huge personality conflict with John Sloman, the singer recruited for the previous album Conquest. Things came to a head later on in the year and this culminated in Hensley's departure. The band soldiered on and recruited a temporary keyboard player called Greg Dechert. Dechert stayed with the band for several recordings and a tour, but in early 1981 Mick Box put the band on hold. Box reorganized the band around himself and Trevor Bolder.
Secure with a new contract, Box and Bolder wanted to recruit original singer David Byron back into the fold. Byron didn't want to know. Both Box and Bolder admitted defeat, Bolder taking up an offer to join Wishbone Ash, and Box retreated to his flat, locked himself in and got blind drunk for two days. It was the end of the road for Heep... or was it?
Pulling himself together, Box considered the options before him. His agent had suggested he form the 'Mick Box Band' and join the 'Guitar Hero' bandwagon that was so popular in the early 80's. Box rejected this option of rebuilding Uriah Heep. Lee Kerslake was the first to enlist having just departed the Ozzy Osbourne Band. Box was able to convince him that the problems with management that had resulted in his departure a few years earlier had been eradicated. In the main this was achieved by Box taking over the management duties until another manager could be found. Hensley was no longer in the band and Gerry Bron was only involved on the record company side, not in a management capacity.
Bass guitarist Bob Daisley had also left Ozzy's band and he joined Kerslake, completing the rhythm section in the new Heep. Daisley, an Australian, was not unfamiliar to Box as his old band Widowmaker had supported Uriah Heep on their High And Mighty tour. Next to join was John Sinclair. Keyboard player Sinclair was negotiated out of his commitments with US-based band Lion, enabling him to enlist. Sinclair also had past connections with Heep as keyboard player with The Heavy Metal Kids who had supported Heep on the Sweet Freedom tour of 1973.
The band was nearly complete, all they had to do now was find a suitable singer. The vocalist position was filled by Peter Goalby who had failed to secure the place in Uriah Heep after an audition following the departure of John Lawton. Ironically, according to Ken Hensley, it was Goalby that Hensley wanted to join instead of Sloman two years earlier. To this day he believes his tenure in Heep would have continued had Goalby been picked in place of Sloman.
This time however Goalby had been approached while still committed to some live dates with Trapeze in the USA, saying he would be interested if the post was still vacant when the tour was over. He went out on the road fully expecting to return and find the position in Uriah Heep filled. This time however it was Goalby the Heep wanted and although other vocalists had been considered, they had waited for his return.
With Uriah Heep a band once again they went into the studio to start work on a new album. Several songs were recorded at Ridge Farm Studios but Gerry Bron was unhappy with the initial recordings and the project was scrapped. The band relocated to the Roundhouse Studios and with Ashley Howe in the production seat they recorded what was to become the Abominog album, using some Ridge Farm compositions as the basis for this. Both the demo bonus tracks included on this re-master, That's The Way That It Is and Hot Persuasion, are from those sessions.
The release of the album was preceded by an EP, Abominog Junior, featuring three tracks: an album track penned by Russ Ballard called On The Rebound, together with two non-album tracks, Tin Soldier, the old Small Faces tune, which was always a favorite of Mick and John's, and a band-penned song, Son Of A Bitch. Abominog Junior was a miniature replica of the LP right down to the artwork. Tin Soldier was recorded at the request of the then-bassist Bob Daisley who had always liked the song. Son Of A Bitch along with My Joanna probably rates as the worst tracks the band ever issued!
The album with its gruesome eye-catching cover was released in May 1982, gaining rave reviews from the press along with the vote of the second worst album cover in the USA. The worst cover being by guess who? ... Ozzy Osbourne.
The band played selected dates throughout 1982 including a headlining gig at the annual TT races on the Isle Of Man. The show was broadcast by Radio Luxembourg to an estimated audience of 60 million! They also played Donnington Monsters of Rock concert on August 21st.
A second single was lifted from the album. That's The Way That It Is and the corresponding promotional video gave the band extensive media coverage via MTV in the USA. The album was such a success, it was to secure a future for the band. After some more European dates the band returned to the studio to record the follow up album, Head First.
© 1991, 1997 Robert M. Corich
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Content Copyright © 1997 Jay Pearson
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