In 2003 The Heavy Metal Kids returned with their perfectly titled album Hit The Right Button. Just like the title says, they did exactly that. It proved to be a superb return from the band formed in London way back in 1973.
The good news is that we now have Hit The Right Button Plus an expanded edition available via Angel Air Records. It includes four bonus live tracks recorded in 2004 in London and Milan.
Let’s go briefly back to where it all started. Way back when they were spotted by Dave Dee, sadly no longer with us, who signed them to Atlantic Records.
The band was initially fronted in his own unforgettable way by the late Gary Holton. Originally an actor he is equally remembered for his appearances in the stage musical Hair, and the film Quadrophenia, before really making his name as Wayne in the UK TV hit series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet.
However, when he fronted the HMK he possessed a huge stage presence that anyone who saw him, myself included, will never forget. Sadly, he died in October 1985 before series two of Auf Widersehen, Pet was finished. There must be a whole book full of stories surrounding his short but memorable life.
Last year I had the pleasure to interview the bands own keyboard genius Danny Peyronel for Blogcritics as part of the Classic Eurorock series. During his incredible career Danny has written for Meatloaf, UFO, David Gilmour, and Sade. What a lovely, funny guy he proved to be.
With a million anecdotes of his time with the KIds, UFO, and others I could easily have listened to him for several months. He was even kind enough to send me a copy of his excellent solo album Make The Monkey Dance, one that is well worth checking out.
I asked Danny whether, in hindsight, the Heavy Metal Kids had a somewhat misleading name. He gave a great answer to that one in the above link. If you’ve got to give them a label then I guess glam metal might Hit The Right Button. One thing is definite though, they have every right to claim their place as being influential of what came later with the punk explosion headed by the likes of The Sex Pistols, The Damned, and Generation X.
With Gary Holton, they released three albums, their 1974 self titled debut, Anvil Chorus in 1975, and Kitsch in 1977. As Danny says in the interview Gary “simply did not have an ‘off’ switch!” Anything was possible at a Kids gig and his name is certain to bring a huge smile to any fans old enough to remember.
There are also several live albums which help capture that whole experience. Live From The 70s and Live At Barbarella’s, the latter recorded in 1977 in Birmingham, England. Both are guaranteed to bring it all back. There is also a great compilation enchantingly called Best Of The Old Bollocks available.
Details of all of these and much more including a great memory jerking museum section can be found on the bands official website.
After Gary’s death the band went into a lengthy period of inactivity. However, in 2002, with Danny Peyronel taking over the vocals from behind his keyboard, the Kids came back.
For Hit The Right Button Plus Danny is joined by drummer Keith Boyce, bass player Ronnie Thomas, along with newer additions Marco Guarnerio and Marco Barusso, who also produced the album. The passage of time has done nothing to dim the bands vitality and they deliver a statement of enthusiastic intent one which, if anything, enhances their, already large, reputation.
Opener “Message” announces their return in some style complete with trademark Kids chorus. The equally hooky “Girl Of My Dreams” is sure to take up residence in your head.
It’s obvious straight away that today’s Kids have successfully found the dividing line between honouring their tradition, for example on “Blow It All Away”, sure to please their long term fans, whilst sounding relevant, and fresh.
Other stand outs include the grinding title track, a memorable “Wildlife”, and an infectious “Crool World”, which comes complete with yet another hook-heavy chorus. The scene setting “N.Y. Streetlife” leads seamlessly into the vibrantly classy “Viva New York!” The Big Apple theme continues with the ballad “I Walk Alone.”
A satisfyingly heavy “Whisky” comes complete with more great guitar work. The quirky “A Hundred Skeletons”, and the pulsing hook that is “Gotham City”, a track screaming out to be played live, lead to closing track “Voices.” All of these more than maintain the high standard of what has come before.
Danny rises from behind his keys to deliver a quality vocal performance throughout and the band, as you would expect, are as a tight as the proverbial ducks nether regions. It’s foot stomping bright, alive, fresh, and breezy. All in all, it’s a great return.
As I've said, Hit The Right Button Plus comes with four additional live tracks recorded in 2004. “Chelsea Kids”, “She’s No Angel”, “The Cops Are Coming”, and “Delirious” all pay spectacular, grin inducing homage to their fun drenched past. Let's just say, and only people of a certain vintage will understand, "my head fell off."
Loaded with attitude the Kids were a band that once seen, just couldn’t be forgotten. After all, they once had Keith Richards, no less, enthusing, “in those days, the mid 70s, about the only thing I remember listening to is the Heavy Metal Kids.”
With a recommendation like that you know it makes sense. So get up, do yourself a favour and grab a copy of this the expanded version.