Heavy Metal Kids

Anvil Chorus

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Even before it hit the streets, nobody expected that the Heavy Metal Kids' sophomore album would ever be able to match the magnificence of its predecessor -- how, after all, can anyone top perfection? The warning signs had already started flashing; the moment they truncated their name to the more headline-friendly the Kids was the moment they bowed to a conformity that their debut album had kicked out of the window. But the reality was even worse than that. In fairness, Anvil Chorus did pack a couple of highs, but the Heavy Metal Kids had always promised far more than that -- more, too, than the warmed-up Mott the Hoople-isms that the opening "Hard at the Top" ushered in. "You Got Me Rollin'" continues the disorientation, as frontman Gary Holton steps aside for the more rent-a-rocker tones of keyboard player Danny Peyronel, while "On the Street" and "Old Time Boogie both sound uncannily like something Humble Pie might have left behind the last time they came round for dinner. In other words, you're heading toward the halfway mark before "Situation's Outta Control" slides into view and reminds you just why you're even persevering here. A lazy, Stonesy ballad riding a haunted organ line, it's also the first chance Holton has to truly exercise his tonsils. The single "Blue Eyed Boy" continues the renaissance, despite some distinctly dodgy lyrics (it's hard to believe that this is the same band that once rhymed "please the Lord" with "arpeggio chord"!), and the closing clip of "Crisis," the Thin Lizzy-ish "The Cops Are Coming," and "The Big Fire" at least wrap things up in respectable fashion. But since when were the Heavy Metal Kids meant to be respectable? Later, of course, the reasons behind the disappointment would become clear, as rumors of Holton's own personal struggles were confirmed by the band's split. At the time, however, Anvil Chorus barely deserved to be mentioned in the same breath as its predecessor -- let alone the same discography.

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