Heavy Pettin – “Best Of” (Burnt Out Wreckords / Cherry Red)
Battle Helm Rating
Scotland’s answer to Def Leppard, as so many people thought from Leppard’s manager Peter Mensch, who booked them as tour support for none other than AC/DC, to Polydor Records, who signed them after a major label bidding war for their 1983 debut “Lettin Loose” – with Queen guitarist Brian May on board as co-producer! Following more tours supporting Kiss, Ozzy and Whitesnake along with festival appearances at Reading and the Breaking Sound festival in France among others, Heavy Pettin seemed unstoppable with their winning mix of ballsy riffs, catchy melodies, marketable looks – and a drummer who was more than happy to smash it out on a pair of double bass drums! Sadly, despite releasing two follow up albums, Heavy Pettin didn’t crack America and by the late 80s it was all over. But, as history shows, the band were never forgotten by its fans and even the members themselves, with vocalist Steve ‘Hamie’ Hayman and guitarist Gordon Bonnar restarting the band in 2017! Drummer Gary Moat, however, went solo, this time taking up lead vocals to front his own band, Burnt Out Wreck, that has released two full length records and tours. That said, it comes as no surprise that Moat has worked for many years to secure the rights to Pettin’s three albums, all of which have been re-released as definitive editions along with bonus tracks, new cover art and unseen photos personally overseen by the big man himself. To kick start it all, this “Best Of” 14 track compilation culled from all three of Pettin’s albums tells the tale, and the transition of a band through the 80s in fine style and at last through the band themselves, as represented by Moat. But for myself and others, who were in the crowds, the “Best Of” goes well beyond a nostalgic trip to our youth in hearing music that should never be forgotten as it’s still as grabbing today as it was then. Equally, the songs that appeal to me the most are those from the debut “Lettin Loose” simply because to this very day, they prove you can be heavy and rock like a mutha while still incorporating catchy melodies, high vocals and lush harmonies into a commercial package – without wimping out. As such ‘In And Out Of Love’, with its teasing licks and stirring melodies that go straight to the heart that only melts further thanks to Hamie’s passionate croons in building up to the almighty chorus, is as unforgettable as is ‘Love Times Love’ with its catchy commercial rock but featuring the fiery axe work of Bonnar and Punky Mendoza presenting a difficult challenge for any rock adverse radio station to refuse. With its power-soaked riffs and Moat’s heavy drums driving another catchy groove, even the softer chorus to ‘Devil In Her Eyes’ has a hard edge thanks to the wailing tremolo guitars, while the catchy thumping beat to the anthemic ‘Rock Me’ with its shouted-out chorus gave any stadium rock band a serious run for its money back in the day. Pumped by Moat’s double bass drums, ‘Hell Is Beautiful’ speaks for itself, a massive rock out of power riffs and spirited singing from Hamie through lines like ‘…Hell’s a bad place (depends on who you are), It’s a bad place (it’s where they burn up their guitars), You’ve got a bad face (hell is beautiful)…’ completed by ripping breaks and rock god solos from Bonnar and Mendoza – unforgettable! I have to say that live, the band killed it with their youthful energy, playing much heavier versions of the songs, and in my opinion if they’d stuck to that they would’ve been hugely successful. But alas, the machinations of the music business probably wouldn’t have cared a hoot to consider that in their cash in….