If you don't recognise the name Gary Holton, you will probably recognise the face. Holton, who sadly passed away in 1985, was famous for starring in the popular television series, 'Auf Weidersehen, Pet', in the early 80s. Fewer still will know that he used to be the front man of the Heavy Metal Kids, a 70's punk/glam combo. And they're probably one of the best bands you've never heard of.

The band always had a rocky relationship, and 'Kitsch', their third album, was originally released in 1977, two years after the band first split in 1975. It was recorded in France, and produced by Mickie Most released on his RAK Records label. 1977 was the year that punk really began to take off in the UK, killing off the self-indulgent prog rock dinosaurs that had kept the scene stale for a couple of years before.

Although often cited as a band that bridged the gap between rock and punk, the Heavy Metal Kids steadfastly refused to sit in either camp. Although influences from both genres are plain to see on 'Kitsch', the album plays out more like a rock opera, something akin to the Who's 'Tommy'.

The opening instrumental track, 'Overture', starts the proceedings in a suitably grandiose manner, and from there in the rest of the album builds up in momentum; amazingly it's full running length is little over 30 minutes long! The album contains the singles 'Chelsea Kids' and 'She's No Angel' (which might be familiar to some), as well two bonus tracks, 'Delirious' and 'Hey Little Girl'. It's not hard to draw comparisons between them and other more popular bands of the time; Holton's mock cockney barrow-boy singing is at times very similar to Steve Marriott from the Small Faces, in particular in 'Jackie the Lad' and 'Hey Little Girl'. At other times there are hints of Queen in 'From Heaven to Hell and Back Again' and 'Cry for Me'. They were strongly influenced by the dying glam scene of the late 70s, but had a harder edge than, say, the Sweet or Sparks.

In many ways 'Kitsch' can be seen as an experimental album. The band are obviously having fun and exploring their sound - rather than follow the musical trends of the time, they are trying to carve out their own direction. Sadly it didn't really work at the time but I'm glad they've been given a chance to be rediscovered here in this nicely remastered package.

When a few years later Simple Minds played with similar keyboard/chorus arrangements, they were hailed as one of the era's most exciting new bands, but somehow the Heavy Metal Kids seemed to miss the boat and were overlooked. Although given credit by Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and small cult bands such as Cock Sparrer and Splodgenessabounds, the Heavy Metal Kids remain largely ignored by the music industry, so perhaps now is the time for them to gain some of the recognition they deserve.

I highly recommend you check out 'Kitsch' (and the rest of their back catalogue) - you'll be glad you did.













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