Hard 'n' Heavy

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Anvil's first album, 1981's Hard 'n' Heavy, may also be their most unique, since it actually predated the band's adhesion (and key contributions) to the up-and-coming speed metal movement, beginning with their seminal sophomore outing, 1982's Metal on Metal. Instead, Hard 'n' Heavy is a transitional record compiling the best fruits of nearly a decade's worth of club shows and basement woodshedding over long cold Canadian winters by inseparable pals Steve "Lips" Kudlow (vocals/guitar) and Robb Reiner (drums), plus, more recently, bandmates Dave Allison (guitar) and Ian Dickson (bass). In fact, prior to its release through Attic Records, Hard 'n' Heavy had already been put out independently under the group's discarded moniker of Lips (where, curiously, their focus had been on S&M-inspired shock rock), so in some respects, it was the work of another band, not Anvil. This S&M connection certainly explains the exceedingly naughty sexual double-entendres gracing the album's numerous frill-free hard rockers -- namely "AC/DC" and "Oooh Baby" (both of which recall the first song's namesake), "Hot Child" (which owes much to UFO), and the self-explanatory "Bondage" (which ironically features searing guitar histrionics right out of Ted Nugent's arsenal). Others still, like Dave Allison's ménage à trois bubblegum boogie "I Want You Both (With Me)," his second lead vocal, "Oh, Jane," and the inordinately laid-back "At the Apartment" barely even qualify as metal, having a lot more in common with the sort of commercial hard rock that Billy Squier and April Wine were topping charts with at the time. But Reiner's impeccable drumming on all of the above is always busier and more aggressive than these non-metal artists would ever mess with (even on Anvil's cover of the Stones' "Paint It Black"), and once he and his bandmates really lets rip on Hard 'n' Heavy's minority of adrenalin-fueled headbangers like "School Love" and "Bedroom Game," Anvil finally latch on to their impending speed and thrash metal destiny. That destiny, as was said earlier, would take immediate shape on the following year's Metal on Metal, and the radical evolution between these first two albums clearly illustrates Anvil's internal transformation, from fans in thrall to '70s metal and hard rock to professional musicians united behind a newly discovered vision of their own.

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