The late Ken Hensley had completed work on his new album My Book Of Answers shortly before his untimely death on 4th November 2020. My Book Of Answers is to be released on 5th March 2021 as a CD/DVD and Vinyl Album through Cherry Red Records. You can pre-order the album here: http://cherryred.co/KenHensley
For half a century Ken Hensley was a major influence in the rock world. An original member of Uriah Heep, Hensley was keyboard player, guitarist, vocalist and principal song writer with Uriah Heep for ten years. His subsequent solo career saw Hensley work with leading artists across the globe and he became known as an inspiration for encouraging other talented artists.
My Book Of Answers is a wonderful tribute to this rock legend. The album is the intriguing result of a collaboration with one of Hensley’s fans, following a chance meeting at an airport, as he turns dreams into a reality. Over a two year period the collaboration with Russian fan Vladimir Emelin has seen Hensley turn Emelin’s poems into an album’s worth of songs, a series of videos, a concert and an illustrated lyric book (available later this year) charting the progress of each piece from Russian poem to English rock song. And all of this has been produced in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
Hensley was clearly excited when speaking shortly before his death. “It’s been fascinating since day one! It’s somewhat miraculous how it all came together and how it’s continued to grow and develop, even through the crisis, to where it’s at today and where it’s going tomorrow.”
This unique project came about following Hensley’s chance meeting with Emelin at Alicante airport in early 2018, as he explained. “Vladimir has a home up on the Costa Blanca and he’s 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’s 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.”
At a meeting in Alicante, later in the year, Emelin asked if Hensley could turn a couple of his poems into songs. “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, Coronavirus 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.”
Emelin also suggested a video and they would, eventually, make a video for each track together with a concert of all of the songs which was filmed, with social distancing, 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 feature’s 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’s 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, the Coronavirus 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.”