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Heavy Metal Kids - Heavy Metal Kids (LP)

Heavy Metal Kids - Heavy Metal Kids (LP)

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Genre: rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title:  Heavy Metal Kids
Company: ATCO
Catalog: SD
Year: 1974
Country/State: UK
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+
Comments: small cut out notch tip edge; minor ring wear; promo sticker on cover' 99 cents written on front cover
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6324
Price: $20.00

These overlooked British rockers get labeled as proto-glam advocates. I'm not going to tell you that's entirely wrong, but to my ears they actually sound like a cross between The Faces and a British version of a mid-western American working band like Head East. In fact front man/lead singer Gary Holton vocal mannerisms occasionally remind me a bit of Head East singer John Schlitt (albeit with a heavy Cockney accent).

Holton actually had a background in acting before his stint as a wannabe rock star. He'd started his career in the theater as a child actor, including a stint in the Royal Shakespeare Company. In his teens he won a role in the English touring company of Hair. That experience seemingly turned him on to the rock and roll bug and in 1973 Holton decided to form a band, recruiting drummer Keith Boyce, keyboardist Danny Peyronel, bass player Ronnie Thomas, and guitarist Mickey Waller. Mixing Holton's theatrical roots with the desire to be a real rock and roll band, The Heavy Metal Kids attracted a loyal cult following and attracted a sponsor/mentor in the form of A&R man Dave Dee, who helped bring them to the attention of Atlantic Records, which signed them to a contract (ATCO acquiring US distribution rights).

Recorded at London's Olympic Studios with Dee producing, 1973's "Heavy Metal Kids" may be flawed, but to my ears those flaws are part of what makes this a great album. Musically they couldn't have picked a worse, less descriptive name for themselves (though years later Holton was in the running to replaced Bon Scott in AC/DC). These guys weren't a metal outfit; there weren't really an out-and-out glam outfit, nor were the a pop band, though all of those genres had an influence on their collective sound. One of those albums that's simply hard to oaccurately describe, I'd suggest you think along the lines of a mix between Faces-styled bravado and sloppiness, Mott the Hoople glam accessories, and Head East-styled plug-ahead professionalism. In fact that lack of a clear identity was probably one of the things that hurt the band - trying to slot them into a rock category was just too hard and you can see where club owners would have found it difficult to see where they fit into their marketing niches. From a performance standpoint Holton certainly didn't have the best voice you'd ever heard. He could be shrill and irritating like chalk on a blackboard ('Always Plenty of Women') and unlike most English singers he seemed to go out of his way to showcase his Cockney accent (check out 'It's the Same') which occasionally left American ears struggling to figure out what was going on. As for the rest of the band, they were surprisingly accomplished, if not technically the tightest group you've ever stumbled across. Boyce and Thomas weren't fancy, but they kept the band firmly planted on the ground and where versatile enough to give the band a credible reggae flavor on 'Run Around Eyes', while the Argentine-born Peyronel and Waller added occasional color to the proceedings.

- Penned by guitarist Waller, 'Hangin' On' was a rollicking rocker that's one of the album's highlights. The combination of Holton's snarling vocals (he really sounded like John Schlitt on this one). Peyronels' galloping keyboards, and Waller's slashing guitar made this one very radio-friendly. rating: **** stars
- If you thought Ian Hunter or the late Freddy Mercury were guilty of theatrical deliveries, then I suggest you check out 'Ain't It Hard'. One again built on the combination of Peyronels keyboards and Waller's guitar, this one exploded with a totally unexpected and enchanting chorus. Another personal favorite. rating: **** stars
- 'It's the Same' found the band throwing a curve ball in the form of a pretty ballad with surprisingly touching lyrics. As mentioned earlier, Holton seemed to take pride in his heavy accent and it literally took me a couple of spins to figure out he was singing 'it's the same". rating: *** stars
- So remembering this was recorded in 1974, the inclusion of a reggae tune was quite adventuresome. The fact 'Run Around Eyes' was actually quite good (unlike most of the competition) also spoke highly of the band. rating: **** stars
- Another group composition, 'We Gotta Go' started out as a surprisingly low-keyed and reflective ballad highlighted by some of Waller's prettiest lead guitar. The song quickly picked up steam becoming kind of a party anthem that they're apparently still playing in-concert. Anyone know what kind of effect he was using to get the weird spidery sound ? rating: *** stars
- 'Always Plenty of Women' has always reminded me of a Faces track - it had the same time of easy-going, drunken and sexist charm, along with the kind of killer chorus that exemplified the best of Rod Stewart and company. rating: **** stars
- Opening up with some killer Walller guitar that then morphs into one the album's funkiest rhythms, 'Nature of My Game' was the LP's most straightforward and commercial rockers. Of course I was also a lost cause when Payronel's cheesy synthesizer kicked in at the end of the track. If Mott the Hoople had recorded a song this tight and radio-friendly they would have been major stars. 'Course it didn't do a thing for these guys. rating: **** stars
- I'm not sure who handled the first lead vocal on the ballad 'Kind Woman' (it certainly didn't sound like Holton), but the results were very impressive, exhibiting one of their strongest melodies that recalled the kind of big ballad that '80s hair bands rode to one-hit wonder status, crossed with some glistening Badfinger-styled harmonies. Payronel stole the spotlight with a wonderful barrelhouse piano solo. rating: **** stars
- Tapped as the album's single, most of 'Rock n Roll Man' was a mindless slice of boogie rock. Very Slade-esque and simply lacked the energy of the rest of the collection. rating: ** stars
- The album ended with a short and forgettable reprise of 'We Gotta Go'. rating: ** stars

As mentioned above, the album was tapped for a couple of singles:

UK release
- 1974's 'Rock N Roll Man' b/w 'Hangin' On' (Atlantic catalog number K- 10465)

French release
- 1974's 'It's the Same' b/w 'Rock 'N' Roll Man' (Atlantic catalog number 10509)

The album generated positive reviews from the critics, but in spite of extensive touring, the set proved commercially stillborne.

"Heavy Metal Kids" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Hangin' On (Mickey Waller) - 3:05
2.) Ain't It Hard (Ronnie Thomas - Mickey Waller - Gary Holton) - 3:00
3.) It's the Same (Danny Payronel - Ricardo Soule) - 5:40
4.) Run Around Eyes (Keith Boyce - Gary Holton - Danny Peyronel - Ronnie Thomas - Mickey Waller) - 2:57
5.) We Gotta Go (Keith Boyce - Gary Holton - Danny Peyronel - Ronnie Thomas - Mickey Waller) - 4:55

(side 2)
1.) Always Plenty of Women (Ronnie Thomas) - 3:25
2.) Nature of My Game (Mickey Waller - Gary Holton) - 3:35
3.) Kind Woman (Mickey Waller) - 4:28
4.) Rock n Roll Man (Ronnie Thomas - Paul) - 7:30
5.) We Gotta Go (reprise) (Keith Boyce - Gary Holton - Danny Peyronel - Ronnie Thomas - Mickey Waller) - 1:20

The band has an entertaining website at:
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