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Welcome to the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life! I have wanted to put something like this together for a long time now and the A-Z Challenge just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve compiled stories, trivia, research, music videos and live concert footage on all the bands and musical artists who have been important to me over the years, especially during my youthful years in the 60s and 70s. At first glance, the posts may seem long – and some of them are due to the number of videos included – but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, see or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and listen to the great music that you’ll find here. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! In addition to individual songs, there are some full albums here for those who may want to enjoy some music while they’re surfing or working. I hope you find that the stories are entertaining, the information educational and the trivia interesting. It would be a tremendous honor if you would bookmark the A-Z Musical Tour of My Life as a resource for great music and music information! Now, let’s get started with…
U is for Uriah Heep – My very favorite song of all time is by Uriah Heep: Stealin’. I wouldn’t say I’m a die-hard Uriah Heep fan, though they still have quite the cult following. I’m just really into this song:
Stealin’ – studio version, just the way I like it:
“Uriah Heep is an English rock band formed in London in 1969 and are regarded as one of the seminal hard rock acts of the early 1970s, and they heralded the progressive rock movement of the decade. Their progressive/art rock/heavy metal fusion’s distinctive features have always included a massive keyboard sound, strong vocal harmonies.” (Source: Wikipedia)
Where did they get their name? Uriah Heep is the main antagonist character in the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield. Not exactly sure why they chose that particular character but the title of their debut album, Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble, references the signature phrase of the Dickens character Uriah Heep (“very ‘umble”). Interesting.
Stealin’, my favorite song and arguably the best known Uriah Heep song, is from their 1973 album Sweet Freedom. The song charted to #33 in the US and #18 in the UK. Here’s a decent 1973 live performance of the song. 1973 was when they were at the peak of their commercial success:
Easy Livin’ – the other Uriah Heep song I like. It’s from their 1972 Demons and Wizards album. “Easy Livin'” entered the US Top 40 at No. 39, making it Heep’s first and only American hit. “Easy Livin'” was also a mega hit in the Netherlands and Germany, countries which were becoming a strong market for the band.” Source: Album Wikipedia page. Here is a studio version (audio only):
Uriah Heep recently (June 2014) released their 24th studio album, Outsider. Long history!
U is for U2 – This outrageously successful Irish band is a powerhouse with its social and political statements. Frontman Bono (vocals and guitar) is known for his philanthropic projects and his incredible wealth. The last time I heard, he was one of the richest musicians ever. Bono has been U2’s frontman for thirty years and they have sold hundreds of millions of albums and seen BILLIONS from touring and merchandising revenues.
I thought the Letter U was going to be a skimpy post but with U2 in the mix, there will be a ton of music videos posted! U2 probably doesn’t need much description or explanation being that they are one of the biggest bands ever. There is a ton of history and discography which you can read all about at their Wikipedia page. Let’s get started with the music:
Sunday, Bloody Sunday – from U2’s War album, which was their first very overt political album, primarily because of this song and New Year’s Day. 1982 was a year wrought with warfare. One of U2’s most overtly political songs, its lyrics describe the horror felt by an observer of the Troubles (the ethno-nationalist conflict) in Northern Ireland, mainly focusing on the Bloody Sunday incident in Derry where British troops shot and killed unarmed civil rights protesters and bystanders who were there to rally against internment (imprisonment without trial). Credit: Music video by U2 performing Sunday Bloody Sunday. (C) 2006 Universal-Island Records Ltd:
New Year’s Day – written about the Polish Solidarity movement:
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Live from Milan, 2005:
Pride – Off the Unforgettable Fire album and written about Martin Luther King, Jr., the song received mixed critical reviews at the time, but it was a major commercial success for the band and has since become one of the band’s most popular songs. Music video by U2 performing Pride (In The Name Of Love). (C) 1984 Universal-Island Records Ltd:
Where the Streets Have No Name – from the Joshua Tree album. Because the making of this music video is so interesting, I’m posting the entire Wikipedia article section detailing it. Watch the video first, then read the story of the shoot below. I found it to be very intriguing and a win for artistic expression. Brilliant! (Credit: Music video by U2 performing Where the Streets Have No Name. (C) 1987 Universal-Island Records Ltd):
The video begins with an aerial shot of a block in Los Angeles, and clips of radio broadcasts are heard with disc jockeys stating that U2 is planning on performing a concert downtown and expecting crowds of 30,000 people. Police show up to the set and inform the band’s crew of the security issue that the film shoot is causing, due to the large number of people who are coming to watch the performance. Two minutes into the video, U2 are seen on the roof of a liquor store and perform “Where the Streets Have No Name” to a large crowd of people standing in the streets surrounding the building. Towards the end of the song, the police tell the crew that the performance is about to be shut down, and eventually police walk onto the roof while the crowd are booing the police.
The video for “Where the Streets Have No Name” was directed by Meiert Avis and produced by Michael Hamlyn and Ben Dossett. The band attracted over 1,000 people during the video’s filming, which took place on the rooftop of a liquor store in Downtown Los Angeles on 27 March 1987. The band’s performance on a rooftop in a public place was a reference to The Beatles’ final concert, as depicted in the film Let It Be.
During the shoot U2 played an eight-song set, which included four performances of “Where the Streets Have No Name”. Prior to filming, a week was spent reinforcing the roof of the liquor store to ensure it would not collapse if it were to be intruded by a group of fans. A backup generator was put on the roof so the shooting could continue in the event that the authorities shut off the power on the primary generator, which happened during filming.
The depiction of the police attempting to shut down the video shoot due to safety concerns actually happened during filming, just as seen in the video. Hamlyn was almost arrested following a confrontation with the police. According to Avis, the events depicted in the video show what actually happened that day “almost in real time”, and that “getting busted was an integral part of the plan.” Band manager Paul McGuinness revealed in 2007 that much of the confrontation with the police was exaggerated; the group were hoping to get shut down by the authorities in order to dramatize the music video, but the police continually gave them extensions for shooting the video. In the background of the video is a sign for The Million Dollar Hotel, which was rebuilt to create some interest, in case no one showed up at the film shoot. Although the video is of a live performance, the audio used is from the studio-recorded version of the song. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Performance Music Video at the 1989 Grammy Awards.
In God’s Country – Here’s a lyric video:
Two Hearts Beat as One – (Credit: Music video by U2 performing Two Hearts Beat As One: Video with The Edge, Bono, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen. (C) 1983 Universal-Island Records Ltd):
With or Without You – “Bono wrote the lyrics while struggling to reconcile his responsibilities as both a married man and a musician. His wanderlust in belonging to a musical act was often at odds with his domestic life. While writing the lyrics, he realized that neither facet of his life defined him, but rather the tension between the two did. He explained that the final lyric is about “torment” and how repressing desires only makes them stronger.” Source: Wikipedia (Credit: Music video by U2 performing With Or Without You. (C) 1987 Universal-Island Records Ltd):
One – (Credit: Music video by U2 performing One – Anton Corbjin Version. (C) 1992 Universal-Island Records Ltd):
Beautiful Day – (Credit: Music video by U2 performing Beautiful Day (C) 2000 Universal-Island Records Limited):
What other U2 songs would you have wanted to see here?
I’m stretching here, trying to recall any other bands beginning with the letter U that I particularly liked and pretty much Uriah Heep and U2 are it. I remember UFO but I didn’t like any of their songs, although they sure had plenty of them. In case you aren’t aware, “UFO [is] an English heavy metal and hard rock band that was formed in 1969. UFO became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. UFO were ranked No. 84 on VH1’s ‘100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.’” (Source: Wikipedia)
I guess I can list Utopia as there’s one song that I remember…plus I came across a concert ticket stub but I can honestly say I don’t at all remember that show. No recollection whatsoever…
U is for UTOPIA – Utopia and Todd Rundgren are intertwined, with Rundgren being front and center, calling the band “Todd Rundgren’s Utopia” for a time, until 1976 when the name changed to simply Utopia as stable assembly of members continued for a stretch of a few years. The band broke up in 1986, then briefly reunited in 1992. Then in 2011, the group became once again Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. You can read about their complicated history at their Wikipedia page.
Love is the Answer – from their Oops, Wrong Planet album, here is an appearance they did on the Mike Douglas Show in 1980. Utopia wrote the song but it failed to chart, until it was picked up by England Dan and John Ford Coley, when it became a hit. Here is the Utopia version:
Their next song was their only Billboard Top 40 hit, peaking at #27, and it came from their 1980 album Adventures in Utopia:
Set Me Free
That’s it for Letter U. So tell us, what U bands would you have showcased?