Uriah Heep was one of those bands I discovered completely by accident growing up as a teenager in the seventies.
Like everybody else back then, I had heard "Easy Livin," which up to that point in time had been Heep's one song to receive any airplay on American album rock radio. The song was from Demons And Wizards, an album which was selling well for the band despite getting largely terrible reviews.
"Easy Livin" was itself a pretty decent little workingman's sort of rock tune that sounded good enough sandwiched in between say, "I Just Wanna Make Love To You" by Foghat and "Thirty Days In The Hole" by Humble Pie on the local FM rock station.
Prior to Demons And Wizards, Uriah Heep's records had included one recorded with a symphony orchestra (Salisbury) and another more known for the mirror on it's cover than for the music inside (Look At Yourself). Uriah Heep was also going through band members the way other bands of the day went through cigarette rollling papers.
For Demons And Wizards, founding Heepsters Mick Box (guitar) and principal songwriter Ken Hensley (keyboards) had added drummer Lee Kerslake and bassist extraordinaire Gary Thain to the lineup, which by now also included vocalist David Byron. It was this lineup they finally settled on for the next four albums, which would prove to be both Uriah Heep's commercial and creative peak period.
So anyway, like everybody else back then, I had read the unanimously bad reviews of Uriah Heep's albums. This was a band that rock critics loved to hate like no other since the universally despised Grand Funk Railroad. In what may well be one of the most scathing album reviews I've ever read, one guy writing about Demons And Wizards didn't even stop with the music. After trashing the album, the critic punctuated his verbal arrows by going after the band's looks, calling them "ugly as muttonchop mongrels."
But that's how it was with Uriah Heep back then. The original "no respect" band, they still managed to eventually sell a buttload of records and develop a reputation for high energy — even if occasionally somewhat sloppy — live shows that made them one of the world's top concert draws by the mid-seventies.
With their history of critical disrespect, combined with a legendary reputation for excess both on and offstage (one that would eventually claim the lives of two original band members), it's long since been suggested that Uriah Heep was the actual real-life inspiration for the brilliant rock "mockumentary" film This Is Spinal Tap.