Those of a certain age should remember this hard working Scottish rock band formed in Glasgow in 1981 and when you name your band after an album by the sublime UFO then you have made a statement of intent about the style of rock you are going to trade in.
Formed by guitarist Gordon Bonnar, drummer Gary Moat, bassist Brian Waugh, vocalist Steve ‘Hamie’ Hayman and lead guitarist Punky Mendoza, they hit the ground running with their all action hard rock and quickly showed that they were a force to be reckoned with. Their debut, Lettin Loose, was released in 1983 and featured the Queen guitarist Brian May as co-producer and was seen as an influential album by those in the know. The follow up, Rock Ain’t Dead, came out in 1985 and was another hard hitting rock album but the band then split in 1988 with their third album, The Big Bang, not actually being released until 1989.
Very much a classic rock band in the best traditions of the ’70s, they originally incorporated some of the more aggressive elements of NWOBHM into their distinctive sound but were most certainly not a band to be associated with the genre and, despite the best attempts to re-write history, there were still many bands in the early ’80s that were not NWOBHM. Steve Hayman was, and remains, a great vocalist in the best traditions of those hard hitting singers from north of the border in Frankie Miller, Alex Harvey and Dan McCafferty and his cigarette and whisky infused voice is absolutely perfect for the hard, driving rock that Heavy Pettin specialised in. The two guitarists gave the band that extra power and Mendoza really excelled when he let loose and they had one of the tightest rhythm sections around. In truth, the band should have been much bigger and their split came far too early as these three albums quite clearly show. Thankfully, they are now being re-released by Burnt Out Wrecklords/Cherry Red and it is great to hear their material again.
The debut, Lettin Loose, is definitely a rock album of the ’80s but still has a fresh feel to it and it a little reminiscent of what the early Iron Maiden were doing but is just that little bit dirtier, definitely, a band for the denim brigade to enjoy. There are two bonus tracks on the new album in Roll The Dice and Shadows Of The Night, both typical Heavy Pettin hard hitters and they both feel as though they have always been on the record.
The critical album, the second one, was released a couple of years later and Rock Ain’t Dead very much continued in the same style as the debut but showed a development given by an extra two years of them developing their skill set, no doubt, aided by some quite high profile support slots. The work still feels fresh today which is mainly due to it already having that retro feel as their roots remain firmly in the ’70s now features the bonus track Crazy which is a instantly hitting delight, great and catchy chorus and superb guitar work.
Sadly, it was all over by the time their third and last album, was put out with The Big Bang showing a slicker, more radio friendly side to the band which is easy to understand as this was the time that the likes of Judas Priest, Magnum, Iron Maiden and Def Leppard were regularly in the singles charts.
I actually prefer the raunchier side of Heavy Pettin but there is still plenty of that to enjoy on this album including the two bonus tracks, City Girl and Rock You Endlessly. If you enjoy ’70s and ’80s hard rock or fondly remember the band then this will be a welcome addition to your record collection. Heavy Pettin were a great band and these re-releases are superb and are a welcome reintroduction to a band who truly knew how to rock and roll. Heavy Pettin reformed in 2017 with two of the original members in guitarist Gordon Bonnar and singer Steve Hayman; let’s see if a new album is forthcoming.