Like you, like me, like most metalheads ever, at some point we’ve come across this British band called Heavy Metal Kids but never investigated further. I mean, clearly some of you reading this will be familiar with the group, but I sure wasn’t, and in the interest of continuing everyone’s heavy metal education we thought we’d dive in a bit further today.
In 1974, the kids put out their self-titled debut album; what is it all about? Is it metal? Is it heavy at all? Well, the name of the band comes from the name of a character in the William S. Burroughs novel The Soft Machine, not from a love of all things loud. So, with that warning aside, let’s dive into the self-titled album to see what this band with the mysterious name is all about.
“Hangin’ On” kicks things off with a heavy lean on the wah and a big ol’ boogie rock anthem that’s not quite arena ready but certainly has stars in its eyes. That main riff is actually really good, more heavy in a southern rock sense than a proto-metal sense, but those kinda horrifying raspy-guy vox give this cred. Good, solid opener; I’m listening.
“Ain’t It Hard” is up next and is certainly not hard, nor is it heavy metal, but is a decent enough piano-led ’70s barroom rocker, like, uh, a really heavied up of-the-era Billy Joel (this is actually a good thing in my books). I gotta say, I really like this song, although it ain’t metal.
“It’s the Same” takes the balladeering up a notch, and maybe it’s just me but I can’t help but think that dudes in Kix and Krokus are probably more familiar with Heavy Metal Kids than I am. Again though, man, I’m digging this, but for the purposes of our column, I must report the heaviness factor here is incredibly low. This one kinda goes on forever, but I suppose if you’re stoned out of your mind and it’s 1974 and it’s summer and you’re sitting on the hood of your muscle car with your girlfriend and you’re realizing how love can hurt and all that stuff, hey, why put a time limit on it?
“Run Around Eyes,” however, is reggae. Hard pass.
“We Gotta Go” takes that reggae vibe and, don’t worry, adds a street-wise ’70s rock and roll feel to it, and, man, I’m thinking Hanoi Rocks pretty hard here, which is nothing but a good thing. Again, this isn’t heavy, I can’t make the stretch and call it proto-metal, but this is pretty excellent rough and ready rockscrabble rock and roll.
“Always Plenty of Women” kicks off the second half of the album with another sturdy boogie rocker, just an innocent slab of feelgood time-appropriate singalong light hard rock/hard rock lite, again with the Hanoi Rocks vibe (or if we’re really stretching it, Quireboys, who I can totally defend, especially their killer 2001 release This Is Rock and Roll).
“Nature of My Game” features one of the heaviest riffs here, although it’s still more of a heavied-up prime-era KISS sound than anything wildly sonically crushing. It comes and goes but does an admirable job at keeping the energy high at this point in the album, a wise move.
“Kind Woman” tries hard to get the big ballad hit single, and actually manages to be pretty successful in its earnestness. It didn’t exactly go down in history like, say, “Tiny Dancer,” but it’s charming enough, and does remind me of “Tiny Dancer” (a song that I love by an artist I generally can’t stand).
“Rock and Roll Man” boogies and woogies and goes on for quite a while but doesn’t wear out its welcome, the band just bringing it all home, ending off this album with style, man, Heavy Metal Kids impressing me here quite a bit even if, yeah, there’s really nothing heavy about this album at all, the band more early-glam than anything else, but in that streetwise sense that was perfectly captured on Too Fast for Love, This Is Rock and Roll and Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks, which is an excellent bunch of albums to have sort of helped pave the way for, which is why today we give two enthusiastic horns up to the Heavy Metal Kids and this album, even if we’re also reporting that this is not heavy metal at all.
Heavy Metal Kids’ Heavy Metal Kids – The Decibel breakdown:
Do I need to be stoned to listen to this?: No.
Heaviness factor: Not at all, but still with enough street cred to keep the longhairs happy.
Obscura Triviuma: L.A. Guns vocalist Phil Lewis has sung for the band at a few live concerts, and that must have ruled.
Other albums: Yes, the band has other studio and live releases from various eras to explore.
Related bands: Raw Glory, Karl Green Band, Uriah Heep, Spinal Tap, Ozzy Osbourne.
Alright, fine, if you must: Just crack a cold one and you’re good.