Tygers of Pan Tang

Wild Cat

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One of the biggest misconceptions about the new wave of British heavy metal is that, because it arose as a reaction to punk rock, the two movements had nothing in common. But in reality, it was the brash energy and do it yourself ethos of punk which fueled the desire of bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard to resurrect the lessons taught by early '70s heavy metal originators like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and translate them into an exciting musical form once again. Few bands epitomized this combination as clearly as the Tygers of Pan Tang, whose amazingly raw 1980 debut Wildcat owed much more to punk than metal due to its innocent vitality and the band's limited technical ability (actually, singer Jess Cox could barely carry a tune). All this simply serves to explain why such a seemingly flawed album was still considered a strong release within the parameters of its time and place. Led by one trick pony (hey, at least it was a good trick) guitarist Robb Weir's staccato riffing and singer Cox's hoarse delivery, straightforward, yet slightly awkward sounding hard rockers like "Money," "Suzie Smiled," and "Insanity" are the main course served on Wildcat. The singer's lyrics are especially daft on opener "Euthanasia" and first single "Don't Touch Me There," but the entire band takes it up a notch on "Slaves to Freedom" and "Killers," both of which feature solid hooks, the occasional time change, and point towards future improvement. In fact, most of the band's amateurish qualities would depart along with Cox after this release, as the addition of capable new vocalist Jon Deverill and virtuoso second guitarist John Sykes would elevate the Tygers to an entirely higher level of musicianship and finesse. [The 1997 CD reissue of Wildcat by Edgy Records offers an impressive number of bonus tracks (eight in all) and band photos, along with extensive biographical info and technical credits, making it the definitive version for fans to seek out.]

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