‘My Book Of Answers’ is the project Ken Hensley had completed prior to his untimely passing on 4 November 2020. Today it has been announced that this will be released as a CD/DVD and Vinyl Album with Lyric Book package through Cherry Red Records 5 March 2021.
The project came about through a chance meeting at Alicante Airport in early 2018 with Russian poet (and fan) Vladimir Emelin.
Hensley explained, shortly before his passing: “Vladimir has a home up on the Costa Blanca and he is here as often as visas will permit. I was flying to Moscow, he was on his way home and he saw me at the airport.
“I guess I’m his idol and he has been a fan since he was a kid. Well, he asked me for an autograph and a picture, which I was happy to give him, and for an email address.”
Last in the year, Emelin asked if Hensley could turn a couple of his poems into songs.
Hensley said: “I tried a couple of songs, although I didn’t know if I could do it because I’ve never done it before. He loved it and he wanted me to do more and more until we finally ended up with an album’s worth of songs.
“I made most of the album under lockdown, COVID-19 restrictions, which was easy because it was just file-sharing over the internet with the musicians, the singers and my engineer and it was relatively easy. What we had to do was make sure we didn’t compromise any quality.
“I popped it over to my manager Steve Weltman and typically, before I know it, he’s got the guys at Cherry Red interested in it! The whole thing takes on another dimension.”
Eventually a video was made for each track and a concert of all the songs was filmed in a socially distanced setting close to Hensley’s home in Spain.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t recall anybody else who has,” Hensley added.
“I’m also developing a lyric book which will be a beautiful piece. Each song features the original Russian lyric, the translation by Vladimir’s friend in Siberia and my notated stuff, where I changed the words of the poem into a song and created verses, bridges and choruses.
“The fans can see all the changes I made and understand why I made them and then there is the final lyric that appears on the album.
“Alisia Vaselieva, a wonderful illustrator and friend of Vladimir’s, has done an illustration for each song, so five pages for each song and it will be a deluxe hard-back package – a collectors’ item.
“To begin with it was hard to find the time to really concentrate on the project, because 2019 was one of the busiest years of my career but, as it happens, COVID-19 actually solved the problem for me, at the same time as it created terrible problems for so many others.
“I was forced to stay home and spend all my time on this project with Vladimir, the restrictions of the virus meant I was able to do that.
“I’m really happy with it and I have a huge yardstick to measure it by!
“It seems as though it was meant to happen.”
Ken recently reflected on over 50 years in the business. “It has been a great career. I can’t look through the [Uriah Heep] box set without having a huge smile on my face!
“To be celebrating my music 50 years on is quite something. We were not a hit with the critics, but we listened to the people who bought tickets and albums and, unfortunately, the critics ignored them. It just went on and on and on.
“We pulled together and achieved everything we set out to do. It was a wonderful life and career.
“My life has been fantastic but it’s not been easy, it was a lot of hard work but when you do what you love best it doesn’t seem like hard work.”
My Book Of Answers pre-orders can be made at http://cherryred.co/KenHensley