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High & Mighty

Artist Comments

David Byron | John Wetton | Mick Box | Ken Hensley

PRESS RELEASE
early July 1976

"It was felt by the rest of the group that they could no longer reconcile David's attitude with their own and so we had to act in what we considered to be the best interests of Uriah Heep," says Gerry Bron. "David has been informed of the decision and he will have complete freedom of contract to pursue his own career."

DAVID BYRON
Reading, UK, July 17, 1976

It came as no surprise because I'd heard earlier. We had a meeting last Monday morning at about eleven o'clock, and that's when it was decided that we couldn't go on together and by that time the press release had gone out. It had actually gone out at the time I was having a private meeting with the band.

...About six months ago things were beginning to strain - not the music or on any personal level between anybody in the band and myself, or really the band. We're very very close people, but with five very strong personalities and characters sometimes we had to agree to disagree.

Although on some issues we'd agree to disagree it got to a point about six months ago where I was having very heavy doubts about the way the band was being lead by the people that organize it - I'm trying to be very delicate here - by the people that organized the band. The people that put it out on the road, look after us on the road, when we're at home, and who organize us in the studio.

We never really had a chance to talk about the way we were presenting ourselves on stage and which direction we should go in either record-wise or tour-wise. It was getting more and more frustrating because there were lots and lots of radical changes that I wanted to make, which at certain times everybody had agreed with. Obviously something happened along the line where they felt that I wasn't going to change my opinion because I'm a strong-minded person, but they felt they wanted to carry on where they were.

...Basically, they were changes in the organization part of the band. I thought people had lost, maybe rightfully so, a little faith in us over the last eighteen months or two years because, although the group are very fortunate in that they can sell out concerts all over the world, the record sales have dwindled.

Our last album, High And Mighty, really hasn't done anything and doesn't look like doing anything in America either.

To me the people who are behind you, the managers, agents, publishing men, promotion men should, and do, all sit down and discuss anything from the design of an album cover, the way you're going to approach the next tour, the backdrop, the kind of effects you might use, the way you're going to use the songs, TV promotion of an album, radio promotion, free competitions all kinds of things to promote the product and the group.

A perfect example was the release of High And Mighty. I was arguing frantically with the management about doing TV advertising which we did with our last album, Return To Fantasy, which went into the charts at No. 7. I was told that 10,000, which is what it would cost, was a helluva lot of money to spend on TV advertising. Yet we took about thirty journalists, on a chartered plane, to somewhere in the bloody mountains in Switzerland. That cost nearly ten grand! We got absolutely no mileage out of that at all.

A couple of years ago I said that the band should go and live in America; and there were two members who could not, for one reason or another, face the prospect of uprooting and going to live in America. A year later they were saying 'For christ's sake why didn't we go and live in America'!

I just sat back in my chair and bashed my head saying: 'J*** C***...' But that's the kind of person I am and that's really what fixed me over the album. Occaisonally the frustrations were so bad that one might say the wrong things. My frustrations were building to the point where maybe sometimes my temperament has overshot what I've been doing at the time and maybe I've done a bad show.

If you're an organist, a bass player, a guitarist or a drummer, with all due respect, you can do a bad show and get away with it. When you were where I was and you do one thing wrong, say one word out of place - you happen to say 'f***' when you shouldn't or talk when you shouldn't - then somebody's going to come up afterwards and say 'you shouldn't do that'.

...We could literally get to America and not know where we were playing...Need I say more? That's the kind of organization we've been stuck with for three or four years.

JOHN WETTON
August 21, 1976

It was great for about the first six months. Unfortunately, the rot had already set into Heep. I can only call it complacency at not having to work for it any more...I don't really want to get into a mudslinging match because I like them too much as people. I didn't want to get involved with the machinations of getting the band back on the road, because it would mean upsetting too many people I don't want to upset. I'd rather not be part of it and start again, a fresh, clean new career.

I hope they can make a go of it, but they never would have been able to with me. I never seemed to fit somehow. I was a bad influence if anything. I introduced too much musicality into the group. I tried to keep it simple, but it didn't work, and the other members withdrew into themselves. The only one who came forward was Ken Hensley, because he took the initiative of grabbing the group by the scruff of the neck, but you need a concerted effort from five people to do that. And unfortunately, I was taking the group the wrong way.

I don't want to sound big-headed, but I'm very, ummm, influential if I'm working with somebody - I can influence to a great degree. And I was just wrong for the group. They didn't need a guy like me."

...Joining Heep did me a world of good. It got my music over to a hell of a lot of people who would never have heard of me otherwise. But I was wrong for the group, although it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Looked at logically, from their point of view, Wonderworld was the first album that wasn't gold for a long, long time. So they thought, 'Ah, it must be Gary - get ourselves a really musical bass player who has a strong personality and that will sort the problem out.' It didn't. Just chemically, it was wrong.

We were on the road too much to realise it. You only noticed when you had time to sit back and look at it. In recording, it really comes to a head, and I think we knew when we were doing the last album - which I was very happy with, but it wasn't a Heep album, unfortunately. It wasn't a group playing; the group would put down a backing track and the Kenny and myself do the overdubs. I couldn't resist it.

My bent, if you'll pardon the expression is to do those things. I wasn't trying to take the group over in any way, that was the last thing I wanted to do. Unfortunately, my personality makes me do that - makes me want to contribute a lot to a record. If nobody says stop, I just carry on. We honestly thought at the end of it that it was the best album the group had made. But it didn't sell very well, because it wasn't Uriah Heep.

So, rather than get involved with the whole mish-mash of putting it back together, while still retaining my on musicality, I opted out.

Record Collector Magazine
December 1999

One day I did Let's Stick Together with Bryan Ferry and another one that morning and then High and Mighty with Uriah Heep in the afternoon.

About joining Heep: I knew their drummer Lee Kerslake. He called me and said Gary Thain had left. But I was still looking for an opening with a band like King Crimson. I wasn't going to sit at home waiting, though,'cos if you do that the phone wont ring and the one thing that Heep had was camaraderie. It was so strong - 5 people against the world. So I was disappointed in the way they turned their back on Dave (Byron) when he died. At his funeral, there was nobody from the band other than me and his agent.

MICK BOX
Flying somewhere between London - Kuala Lumpur - Sydney
November 1995

This album was the first to be produced by the band, and I think it became a very lightweight Heep album. I really enjoy listening to Weep In Silence and Footprints In The Snow, but I feel we lacked any real hard rock numbers though the overall flavour of the album worked well. It is one of those albums I would call a grower. John Wetton even had a lead vocal on One Way Or Another. We were fairly experimental in the recording and at one point David was singing through Lee's drum floor tom with a mic underneath it, and our manager, Gerry Bron, came into the studio and saw what we were doing, declared that we were all mad and walked out. Another time, we sent David down to the echo room (a cellar in the basement of the studio) to record some vocals, and once he had recorded his part we moved on to other things in the heat of creativity..... and left him there for three or four hours. He was screaming at the top of his voice for help, left him there for three or four hours. He was screaming at the top of his voice for help, which we didn't hear until we accidentally moved his vocal fader up on the mixing desk.

This album does have some lovely moments, and I hope you enjoy this remastered version and the bonus tracks too.

KEN HENSLEY
November 1995

To me, High And Mighty represents a musical high in my time with Heep. Not a personal one, mind you, but definitely a musical one. We had decided to produce it ourselves which more or less guaranteed Gerry wouldn't like it, and in retrospect, this was probably a mistake. It is not a "typical" Heep album and I have no problem with that though the record companies and some of our fans obviously did. I think creativity is to be encouraged, not stifled, and, well, I could go on! But I won't! There are some really interesting musical moments, and John Wetton really contributed to the arrangements, which are vastly different from anything we had tried before... or since. This made it an interesting album to record and to produce. I was given (took?) the responsibility for most of the writing and production so it was sort of inevitable that I would play with it a bit. Weep In Silence is my favourite track, but I like all of them. Biased opinion? Of course it is... what else would you expect?

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