Album review: HEAVY PETTIN – Best Of


Burnt Out Wreckords/Cherry Red Records (Release date 27/11/20)

Heavy Pettin never quite made it to the inside of the glittering shop window of fame.

Along with Scotland’s other great white melodic rock hopes, Strangeways, they had the talent, the ability, the songwriting chops, and a label. The speculation as to the reasons why neither made it has become the stuff of myth.

Heavy Pettin released three albums in the eighties, and unless you want to be really picky, this 14 track “Best Of…” is a sound selection.

Lettin Loose (1983) was a remarkably lean and confident debut. The core of the band…Gary Moat, Punky Mendoza, Gordon Bonnar and Steve (Hamie) Hayman formed a formidable writing team. Their songs are robust and thunderous, brimful of sturdy tunes and hooky choruses.

On a minimal budget, experienced producer/engineer, Reinhold (Scorpions/ Stones/ Queen) Mack got the best out of them. You can hear the sound of a real battle hardened band cranking out these songs in the studio. Even the smooth stuff is rough around the edges. Rock fans welcomed the album with open arms, comparing HP to Def Leppard, Icon and TNT.

Five tracks are included here. ‘In And Out Of Love’ and ‘Love Times Love’ would be the picks, both full of raw, raucous energy, yet classy and cool, For a new band, the quality of the songwriting was exceptional.

Produced by John (Frankie Miller/Cinderella/Britny Fox) Jansen, 1985’s Rock Ain’t Dead cemented the band’s unuttered claim to be the UK rock band most likely to.

Their songwriting nous had blossomed into something special. John Jansen’s production smoothed out the kinks and the creases, carving out riffs and clamoring choruses from the band’s writing team, kicking the music into high gear. The compilation lifts five tracks from the original recording.

The eminently tuneful ‘Sole Survivor’ and the stomping ‘Northwinds’ edge just ahead of the others. Both develop the idea of the call and response chorus to its fullest extent, stretching the idea into an unstoppable wash of sound, ebbing and flowing through the songs.

The band’s third album, Big Bang was released in 1989 almost as an afterthought. It was to be produced by Lance (Bon Jovi/Lita Ford) Quinn in the USA, but the label pulled the plug at the last moment. A deflated band did their best to lay down an album worthy of their first two recordings, this time reworking their sound to give it more of an American AOR flavour.

As styles go, there’s not a huge distance between Melodic Hard Rock and AOR, but you have to cross a few bridges to get there, and Big Bang was a bridge too far for many hardcore fans.

That said, the album’s strongest tracks (of four included on this compilation), Don’t Call It Love’ and ‘Born To Run’, might not have been Heavy Pettin as we knew it, but they were clearly stamped with the band’s indelible, “sound of the street” imprint, just the same.

As a memory of a fine band, and a tribute to those moments when it looked they would make it, this “Best Of…” will do just fine.

Review by Brian McGowan

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