If you’re one of those eagerly awaiting the chance to spaff a hundred dollars plus over the prospect of Motley Crue getting back in the ring and touring any time soon, then I would implore you to take some time out of your reckless abandon to spare a thought for Crue’s one-time US touring cohorts, Scottish hard rockers Heavy Pettin, who are just about to re-release three of their albums in expanded CD format.

Formed in Glasgow in 1981 guitarist Gordon Bonnar, drummer Gary Moat, bassist Brian Waugh, vocalist Steve ‘Hamie’ Hayman and lead guitarist Punky Mendoza immediately set their sights on hitting the big time just like their heroes UFO (hence the name) releasing their debut single ‘Roll the Dice’ in 1982 on Neat Records. This almost immediacy lead to them inking a multiple album deal with Polydor and with Warner/Chappell Publishing before working with Queen guitarist Brian May and producer Reinhold Mack on their classic 1983 debut LP ‘Lettin’ Loose’ and touring with the likes of KISS, Ozzy and Whitesnake.

Now that’s what you call an impressive two year career path if ever there was one, eh!

With 1985’s ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ this saw the band looking to take on the world via deals with concert bookers ITB and ICM, but with the hard rock world changing (and hence the reason for my introduction) by the time the band resurfaced with their failed stab at Eurovision glory in 1987 you could almost sense the vultures starting to circle as the UK press was basically working for the Yankee dollar by the time of its release, and Pettin finally called it a day in 1988.

FM Revolver posthumously released the band’s last album for Polydor, the prophetically sounding (and much more AOR tinged) ‘Big Bang’ in 1989 but by then even the classic rock bands Pettin had supported back in their early days had morphed into near mirror images of the Saints of Los Angeles and only the die-hard Pettin fans like yours truly were left to pick up the hand full of copies that eventually did make it into UK record shops.

With the exception of a couple of semi-official reissues in the early noughties these albums have long since been the treasured finds of hard rock collecting eBayers and crate diggers alike…until now that is. And with singer Hamie and guitarist Gordon Bonnar once again touring under the Pettin banner its actually their old drumming pal Gary Moat (who is currently busy fronting his own band Burnt Out Wreck) who we have to thank for these for these three CDs (complete with a handful of bonus tracks) licensing the trio for a late November release via his Burnt Out Wreckords label with distribution through Cherry Red Records.

The big question I suppose though is what will it be like listening to these records again over 30 years on, as the emotional tourism of nostalgia can sometimes cloud the judgement, I’m sure you will agree.

Released the same year as Def Leppard’s ‘Pyromania’ 1983’s ‘Lettin Loose’ has lost none of its youthful charm, and the May/Mack production which at the time I felt was a little lightweight now adds an almost timeless charm to the album’s nine original tracks. It’s the fact that songs like opener ‘In And Out Of Love’ plus the hit single that should have been ‘Love Times Love’ can still stand shoulder to shoulder with anything off Leppard’s multi-Platinum seller that really stands out most for me. There isn’t a bad song on this underrated classic of a debut and after all these years it’s only now that I hear just how much in common Hamie had with one Biff Byford, especially on the rifftastic ‘Victims of The Night’, a song guaranteed to still give you a bit of HBN (that’s headbangers neck) after just one listen. Bolstered by both sides of the band’s debut 7” single on Neat Records (giving the CD a total of eleven tracks) ‘Lettin Loose’ is still a fantastic slab of twin guitar driven melodic hard rock, and is a record that promised so many great things for a band who were by the time of the release of its follow up selling out UK venues like London’s Astoria under their own steam and looking to really take on the big boys.

So with this in mind I’d always wondered with such an upwards career trajectory and such big money backing why ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ didn’t thrust Heavy Pettin into the arena circuit worldwide? They seemingly had the songs to follow up their superb debut, they slightly tweaked their image to fit with the times and through extensive touring had all the confidence and stage craft to take on all comers. Polydor put an eager young producer like Mark Dearnley (AC/DC) behind the desk for the record, and yet I still get the feeling listening to this album all these years later that the band themselves simply wanted more.

Of the ten tracks that went on to make up ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ its much easier for me to look behind the hype and for me one of the factors that may have dented this album’s credibility is that all of the sudden for record number two instead of seeing Def Leppard as a peer they suddenly seemingly just wanted to be them. I mean just listen to the bass rhythm of ‘Soul Survivor’ or the ‘Rock Of Ages’ lite of ‘China Boy’ and tell me I’m wrong. Don’t get me wrong they are still decent songs, its just I feel that when Pettin should have been developing and pushing their own sound they actually (perhaps unintentionally) took a sideways step and why oh why anyone thought that Hamie’s upwards inflection shriek at the end of a lot of his vocal lines was a good idea is still beyond me. I do note he has recently dropped these shrieks live during the recent reformation shows, so perhaps I might be onto something here too. It’s only really ‘Heart Attack’ which creeps up just past the half way mark of the album which is in keeping with the adrenalin rush spirit of Pettin’s debut, and the rest, whilst still a very decent record (CD bonus track ‘Crazy’ also being cut of the same striped spandex cloth), actually now strikes me as the sound of a band musically treading water.

Changing management after ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’ certainly didn’t help the Pettin cause in the slightest and then to follow this up with the failed ‘Romeo’ Eurovision bid of 1987 it was just short twelve months later before the band were calling it a day, and with Polydor never releasing the ‘Big Bang’ eight track album (and here given the definitive article treatment) from which that single came, it was left to FM Revolver to try and posthumously make something of the record, and of the three reissues this is the hardest one to listen to in 2019.

Chock full of keyboard samples that conjure up images of Patagonian pan pipes, drums that boof like Robocop’s boots chasing you down a corridor and songs that sound like they were specifically written for 80s action film montage sections the eight tracks that make up ‘Big Bang’ at best (‘Looking For Love’ and ‘Heaven Sent’) sound like Saxon outtakes from their EMI commercial phase and at worst (I mean do I have to spell it out) like something from an 80s Cliff Richard or Chris Rea album. With two tracks added to this reissue (‘Romeo’ 12” B side ‘City Girl’ and the previously unreleased ‘Rock You Endlessly’) the thing that immediately strikes me is whilst it’s rumoured this album was actually recorded as a get out clause for the band Polydor must also have been pushing the band in this much more commercial Bon Jovi/Journey-like direction, and what they actually ended up doing was make Heavy Pettin sound like Skagarack a band already signed to Polydor and hardly a household name either.

So, there you have it folks, (2007’s ‘Prodigal Songs’ unreleased songs collection aside) that’s pretty much the story of Heavy Pettin summed up in three very different albums. They are a band who really should have been huge and who knows if a few business decisions had gone another way they might now be one of the bands vying for a position on Motley Crue’s megabucks reformation tour too.

Author: Johnny Hayward

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Released to coincide with their recent appearance on the Pavilion stage at Rebellion 2019 ‘Singing Our Souls’ is the second EP from Kid Klumsy the Coalville based five-piece who like to mix metal with punk and feature Weab ex-singer with Dirtbox Disco on lead vocals.

It still doesn’t feel quite right writing “ex singer with Dirtbox Disco” after Weab’s name but having seemingly not been happy fronting the band for quite some time at least here on the six tracks that make up ‘Singing Our Souls’ he sounds much more comfortable singing songs he’s written with his new bandmates.

I’d actually only heard a few older tracks by Kid Klumsy ahead of the recent Rebellion show and to be honest live they seemed to be much more metal than punk, but here on ‘Singing Our Souls’ the balance does switch back more in favour of the punky side of the street.

Lead track ‘Mr. Right Man’ is built on the type of thunderous uptempo guitar riff Dirtbox made their trademark and rumour has it is apparently autobiographical with Weab telling the story of how his larger than life clown figure became something he grew to hate, and true to that ethos Kid Klumsy are very much a jeans and T-Shirt band.

‘Slob’ is up next and this track is much more metal tinged especially on the double bass drum driven chorus breakdowns. ‘Dislexic Monkyz’ meanwhile is perhaps the most Dirtbox sounding track of the six on offer, largely because of Weab’s singing and even given the wacky subject matter it still manages to contain a really catchy hook.

‘Love Is a Battery Field’ is another tune that sticks in the head this time due to the infectious gang backing vocal whilst ‘She’s A Fuck’ is ostensibly a song about a stalker that is built on a thumping Krist Novoselic bass foundation which then adds huge slabs of 90s metal guitar to build its overall structure. Weab is also pushing himself into new areas vocally on this track and I for one certainly like this almost Ricky Warwick meets Dave Gahan style he has developed.

‘Singing Our Souls’ closes up with ‘Maisey’s Song’ a mid-tempo rocker that doesn’t really go anywhere and for me it’s the weakest track here.

Having been a fan of Dirtbox Disco since the days of their first EP at first I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of Kid Klumsy, in fact even after a good few plays of ‘Singing Our Souls’ I’m still not entirely sure. The EP does have the odd flash of brilliance and it certainly is great to hear Weab singing in styles he wants to sing in; it’s just I can’t help but miss that larger than life clown of old you know.

However, with extensive tours already booked both here in the UK and internationally and Kid Klumsy seemingly growing as songwriters the more they are together, I think I’ll reserve full judgement for when the debut album drops, in the meantime though ‘Singing Our Souls’ is certainly an interesting appetiser if you don’t mind a bit of metal mixed in with your punk that is.

Author: Johnny Hayward

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Every once in a while an album comes along that almost completely flies under your radar but the tunes on offer stop you in your tracks and kick you straight between the legs like some musical steel toe capped boot.

‘Black Door’ the all-new eleven tracker from Australian five-piece The Volcanics is just such a record. Boasting a Jim Diamond mix job this record cuts, like a fucking knife, the tunes are that sharp. The songwriting adding a fantastic pop twist to the already well-worn garage rock/punk rock formula that sees oh so many bands falling at the final hurdle when it comes to having that extra edge to make them stand apart.

Perhaps The Volcanics secret ingredient is the huge presence of vocalist Johnny Phatouros who shines throughout, and where some singers might just put their foot on the monitor and scream out belters like ‘Talk’  and the album’s title track, Johnny throws in off-kilter vocal hooks that at first seem at odds with the band’s throbbing backbeat, however once they sink in you cannot help but marvel at just how simple and effective his approach is. In many ways, he is like the band’s Pelle Almqvist or their Skye Vaughan-Jayne.

Talking of Skye for a moment the immediate buzz I got when listening to ‘Black Door’ for the first time was this could very easily have been the follow up to The Chelsea Smiles awesome ‘Thirty Six Hours Later’ album from 2006, and if you are familiar with that classic, you’ll know that we don’t make comparisons to that work of absolute punk rock genius that often here at RPM towers. So, if that’s sparked your interest then ‘Changes On My Mind’ is the tune I suggest you listen to first (via the Bandcamp link below) and trust me when I say “have a cold beer in hand when you press play” and “just let the music do the rest.”

With influences as wide-reaching as You Am I and AC/DC The Volcanics actually remind me more of Radio Birdman and Midnight Oil, albeit with (thanks to the aforementioned Diamond mix) a sound that manages to hammer home the intensity of the band whilst retaining the clarity of the melodies, the latter being the essential difference and why tracks like ‘2000 Years Ago’ and ‘You Don’t Even Know The Song’ work so bloody well.

To be honest I’m a little bit gutted that I’m only just discovering The Volcanics now. five albums into their career. Still better late than never eh, and when the first tracks I get to hear by them are as fucking fantastic as those on ‘Black Door’ then the real positive about this situation is I’ve now got four more Volcanics albums to look forward to catching up on.

Look I can’t recommend The Volcanics highly enough, they are chock full of positivity in an age of the negativity and I challenge you right here and now to go listen to ‘Black Door’ and not get the same buzz I did the first time of listening.

Album of the year material? You betcha.

Author: Johnny Hayward

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So, I’m sat on the plane at Schiphol waiting to jet back to Blighty after my weekend in Helldorado, my tits are well and truly on the deck that’s for sure, then for some reason, I look inside my wallet and find one last 20 Euro note. What do I do with it? Why not get a ticket to see Nashville Pussy in Cardiff on the first night of their 5 date UK I thought? Yeah, why fucking not…

I’d last seen Nashville Pussy at Sjock Festival in Belgium back in July 2017, a day when the sun beat relentlessly down on many thousands of righteous heads and the band, whilst very good, were just a little bit too Southern for yours truly. So, what better way to redress the balance than to catch them on a freezing cold evening here in the UK playing to about a 100 or so diehards who have traveled from all over the country to witness Blaine, Ruyter, Bonnie and Ben on their seemingly never-ending road trip to promote studio album number (lucky) 7, the rather splendid ‘Pleased to Eat You’.

The Pussy must think its rather splendid too because tonight we get a total of five cuts from said opus and every one of them easily stands shoulder to shoulder with their already impressive canon of work. Highlights for me are the glamtastic ‘Go Home and Die’ where Blaine plays the role of storyteller to Coop-like proportions whilst on the menacing ‘CCKMP’ the band somehow manage to outclass Steve Earle right in his own backyard. Oh, and let’s not forget the boogie bastard that is ‘She Keeps Me Coming And I Keep Going Back’ a song that can make even the straightest gig goer want to duck walk across the dancefloor, as one or two do right here tonight.

It’s on the boogie train where the Pussy really are at home (and at their best) though as ‘Wrong Side Of A Gun’, ‘Pillbilly Blues’ and ‘I’m So High’ all prove to be some of the best AC/DC songs written in the past 20 years, whilst in ‘First I Look at The Purse’, ‘Piece Of Ass’ and the superb ‘5 Minutes to Live’ the band recently earned the honour of being dubbed the American Motorhead by Classic Rock magazine, something Blaine is very quick, and proud, to point out tonight.

Thinking back to that hot summer afternoon in Belgium this doesn’t really feel like the same band I’m watching here tonight and even the extended version of ‘Go To Hell’ is enthralling stuff plus it has to be said that guitarist Ruyter Suys really is one of the best out there playing this kind of cow-punk-abilly blues stuff she’s an engaging devil on those six strings even when she decides to rip most of them off her trusted SG during the final encore of ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’, a song that perfectly sums up an evening spent in the presence of Nashville Pussy and takes the Ted Nugent influenced artwork of ‘Pleased to Eat You’ to its natural conclusion.

Granted I could have done without two drum solos and starting and ending the set with covers (they opened with AC/DC’s ‘Kicked In The Teeth’) seemed a bit unusual, as did the lack of support band tonight, but otherwise this was the perfect pick me up feelgood night of rock ‘n’ roll music played by one of the last true purveyors of the born to lose, live to win legacy something that had Tim Butcher (Lemmy’s long-term bass roadie) beaming from ear to ear along with the rest of us.

Epic stuff from an epic band and 20 Euros very well spent indeed.

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Author: Johnny Hayward