Heavy Pettin’- Lettin’ Loose (1983)
Heavy Pettin’ were a Scottish glam metal band from Glasgow who struggled to gain recognition during the 1980s. Of course, there were a lot of things working against them, one of them being that the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which they are often lumped into, was not known for glam acts. Heavy Pettin’ lacked the gritty, DIY sound and attitude that most metal fans associate with NWOBHM. In fact, this Polydor Records debut album called Lettin’ Loose was produced by Brian May, guitarist of Queen. It’s fun, melodic and relies on candy-coated glam choruses to keep the listener entertained but unoffended and unchallenged. The only problem is that when listening to this album, it’s clear that Heavy Pettin’ were better at composing more straight-ahead metal tracks as opposed to the more laid-back, glam rock songs that are merely average.
There are two songs on Lettin’ Loose, “Love on the Run” and “Hell is Beautiful,” that truly are lost metal classics and are great for repeated listens. The former is a vehicle for singer Steve “Hamie” Hayman to brag about his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of womanizing and debauchery, while the latter is a defiant protest song against Heaven. According to Heavy Pettin’, all the partying happens in Hell because that’s where all the rockers are sent upon death. Okay, so it’s not a new theme, and it’s as old as the “selling your soul for the blues” cliché that dates back to Robert Johnson and such, but Heavy Pettin’ make it work perfectly. Both these songs are near-flawlessly composed, and absolutely perfect for headbanging. There’s nothing negative to say about either one.
Unfortunately, none of the other songs come close to this level of quality. “In and Out of Love” sounds pretty cool, and “Victims of the Night” shows a lot of potential but suffers from a poorly produced series of verses where the guitar distortion is dropped. Exactly why this approach was chosen remains puzzling, but it simply does not work as well as it could. It’s a bit surprising that a Queen musician wouldn’t be able to capture the atmospheric feel he was obviously going for, but somehow May drops the ball on this one. Everything else, from “Love Times Love” to “Shout it Out,” are just typical and relatively uninterested glam metal tracks that could never hold a candle to the works of Motley Crue and Twisted Sister on the other side of the Atlantic.
Lettin’ Loose is generally a poor introduction to Heavy Pettin’, who were a band that would become much better and more consistent on their next two releases. Because I really do like this band, It pains me a bit to rate this fairly low at two-and-a-half stars, but the fact that this group would improve so much actually makes this debut look even worse by comparison. Does that mean this album should be ignored? No, because as I implied earlier, there are two tracks on it that are necessary listens, but I couldn’t quite recommend shelling out the money to purchase this on CD or any other format for that matter. That is, unless you’re somewhat of a completist or collector like myself, but not everyone is.
-John Mahon III