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ANVIL - Hard'N'Heavy

Old School !!!!! Released 1981 (Attic)

My brother and I had no sooner taken our seats at the Danforth Music Hall to witness the maiden voyage of Motorhead to North American shores (on the Ace Of Spades tour) than the lights went out and a mop topped guitarist came running up the aisle in full guitar-on-stun mode. Hello Toronto, we're your soon-to-be hometown heroes Anvil! To say that we were impressed would be an understatement. Guitar drenched heavy metal done with youthful vigour and with a healthy dose of humour. Cool.

Originally issued under the Lips moniker, this debut was repackaged and issued under the Anvil name a few months after the Mo-head support gig. General consensus is that Hard'N'Heavy is a dud, a garage-band-worthy first misstep before the almighty Metal On Metal was released a year later. Is the panning justified ? Simple answer is yes and no.

Positives first. There are no less than four tracks here that stand amongst the best Anvil ever put out. 'School Love' is unapologetically hooky pop-metal with a lyric that is both juvenile and humorous, while 'Ooh Baby' headbangs smoothly with finesse. However, the real feast is in the 'Bedroom Games' and 'Bondage' duo raging heavily with some extended guitar histrionics from Lips. Openly aping Nugent with some gonzo feedback-riddled soloing, Lips whips out the vibrator early staking a claim as the new guitar god.

Negatives, there are a few. There are fillers ('At The Apartment', 'AC/DC' and 'Hot Child'), an unremarkable cover ('Paint It Black') and two tracks that should have been taken out back and gutted. Both 'I Want You (Both With Me)' and 'Oh Jane' are putrid hair metal before its time with some cringe-worthy vocals from rhythm guitarist Dave Allison. Why the band let him sing tracks on the subsequent Metal On Metal and Forged In Fire opuses remains a mystery to this day.

So, yeah, there's some justification for its bad rep ... but there are also arguments in its favour as well. Suggestion - go out and get the four highlighted tracks and revel in what the Anvil Metal Pounders Union (local 666) have been feasting on for decades.

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