Rock Goddess / Heavy Petting – Saturday 31st August 2019
You could call them an all-female British heavy metal band, but doesn’t really do them justice. Because while this is certainly true, they transcend gender and nationality, being one of the most significant, uncompromising and celebrated hard rock/metal bands of the past four decades.
It all started in Wandsworth, South London during 1977. Featuring Jody Turner (guitar/vocals) and her younger sister Julie (drums). At the time, they were 13 and nine years old, respectively. But guided by their father/manager John, a respected name on the London music scene, they immediately proved there was real talent, ambition and intent in their vision for a cogent band.
With a line-up completed by bassist Tracey Lamb (a school friend), the trio began to get noticed. They briefly flirted with the idea of adding a second guitarist to the line-up – both Donnica Colman and Jackie Apperley – but it was as a three-piece that Rock Goddess worked best. And after a landmark appearance at the Reading Festival in 1982 (on a bill headlined by Iron Maiden and also featuring Gary Moore and Blackfoot), they got a record deal with A&M.
A year later, the band’s self-titled, debut was released, charting at number 65, and showing that they had the quality and power to compete with any of the NWOBHM bands making an impact at the time.
Produced by Vic Maile (who had previously recorded a demo with the band, and had also worked with Motörhead and Girlschool), the album had influences from The Runaways, AC/DC and the aforementioned Motörhead, but it was obvious that here was a band who had their own style. Songs like the anthemic ‘Heavy Metal Rock ‘N’ Roill’ and the more compact ‘My Angel’ (which got to number 64 in the UK singles chart) proved there was class and grit about this lot.
Later that year, Dee O’Malley replaced Lamb. She also brought a keyboard sensibility to the band, which gave them an extra dimension (again, they had thought about adding another guitarist, with Kat Burbella taking the role for a short time). This came through on second album ‘Hell Hath No Fury’. Produced by Chris Tsangarides, it was released in October ’83, hitting the Top 100 in the UK, as the single ‘I Didn’t Love You (Till I Saw You Rock And Roll)’, which made it to number 57 in the British chart.
The band definitely retained their crucial edge, but showed they were maturing as musicians and songwriters. This also came through at the end of the year, when Rock Goddess co-headlined a hugely successful British tour with label mates Y&T. And this was followed by tours across Europe supporting both Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. There was little doubt by now that the band were not merely consistent, quality performers, but were moving forward and had the respect of peers and fans alike.
In 1986, as they prepared for an American tour, O’Malley – now pregnant – left. In her stead, bassist Julia Longman and keyboard player Becky Axten were brought in to the line-up. However, O’Malley was featured on the band’s third album, ‘Young And Free’. This was released in France during 1987 by JID, following Rock Goddess’ departure from A&M. It was co-produced by Paul Samson and Jo Julian and recorded in ’85. But later in ’87, the band split up, due to various problems.
But there was never any doubt about the band’s legacy. In anything, in their absence the reputation grew. And in March 2013, the classic trio of the Turner sisters and Lamb officially reunited; there had been talk about this happening four years earlier, but this didn’t materialise in the end. If anybody had doubts of the sense in the band getting back together, then some barnstorming live performances totally dispelled these. The band not only appealed to those diehard fans from the ’80s, but also proved they could attract a new, younger audience, In May 2017, the first new recording from this threesome in 34 years was released. This was the EP ‘It’s More Than Rock And Roll’, which came out through Cargo. The three songs here underlined what the Goddess had to offer the modern era, being brash, thunderous and full of attitude – the band had not only lost none of their old drive, but added a 21st century sparkle.
In July 2018, Lamb left the band due to ‘unforeseen personal circumstances’, and after a rigorous search and audition process, Jenny Lane was confirmed as the band’s new bassist in October the same year. Now it’s all gearing up to the eagerly anticipated new album from Rock Goddess. ‘This Time’ will be put out through their own label Bite You To Death Records in conjunction with Cargo on March 1st, 2019. Mixed and mastered by Wes Maebe (Robert Plant, New Model Army, Praying Mantis), it will feature Lamb’s bass parts, despite her recent departure.
Rock Goddess have already contributed so much to the history of hard rock and metal. Their place among the elite has long been assured. Now, they are ready to take it all to a new level – have no doubts, they are ready to blast a path through the contemporary music scene. On their own terms, naturally!
Malcolm Dome (Classic Rock), London, January 2019
Heavy Pettin’ first stirred into action when vocalist Hamie, guitarists Gordon Bonnar and Punky Mendoza, drummer Gary Moat and bassist Brian Waugh first burst out of Glasgow in 1981. They were vibrant, priapic, anthemic and focused. As they showed on a three-track demo, and on the subsequent debut single for independent label Neat (‘Roll The Dice’/’Love Xs Love’), they were more than mere Def Leppard slaves. In fact, the Pettin’ had an international sound that owed something to AC/DC, UFO, Thin Lizzy and Foreigner, but also had its own raging momentum.
Not that the band found the road straightforward. But, thanks to a work ethic that took them around the country, plus a valuable session for Radio 1’s prestigious ‘Friday Rock Show’, the band eventually landed a crucial deal with the major label Polydor Records. Moreover, their 1983 debut album (‘Lettin’ Loose’) was co-produced by the creative Mack together with Queen guitarist Brian May. Now, that’s pedigree.
Amazingly, that album has survived more than 20 years of high-speed hi-tech developments intact. While other, more celebrated records have dated badly, ‘Lettin’ Loose’ re-affirms the belief back then that the Pettin would follow Leppard to big time stature. What went wrong at the time has little to do with band, or lack of ambition/talent.
In America, where they should have broken big long before Bon Jovi gave Love A Bad Name, they were held back by the label’s insistence on an anaemic re-mix (as well as a title change to ‘Heavy Pettin’, which caused more confusion than anything else). If the band’s essential, vital British brio had been left as conceived in the first place, who knows what might have been achieved. Still, a slot on the bill for the 1983 Reading Festival, the day that Black Sabbath infamously headlined when fronted by Ian Gillan, did them no harm and touring with both Kiss and Ozzy helped the quintet’s progress.
Two years later, the Pettin return to the studio, this time with producer Mark Dearnley (who’d worked with AC/DC and Krokus). The result? ‘Rock Ain’t Dead’, which surprised many with a slicker yet conversely tougher approach. The lads really had progressed, although ironically if things had gone to plan, this would have been produced by Lance Quinn, of Bon Jovi and Lita Ford fame. However, just hours before the band were due to fly to Philadelphia, to work with Quinn at his Warehouse Studios, the decision was taken by PolyGram (to whom both Heavy Pettin and Bon Jovi were signed in the US) that, instead, he should start work immediately on what was to be Jovi’s second record, ‘7800 Degrees Fahrenheit’.
Perhaps then, it should have been obvious that record company politics were to scupper Pettin in the crucial American market. Despite continuing to show up well in the UK, once again the US was to prove elusive – through no fault of the five musicians. In many respects, this was the point when the writing was scrawled over every available wall space. Regardless of their obvious determination and grassroots support in Britain, it seemed as if Pettin’s realistic chance of significant international success had gone. A third album, ‘The Big Bang’, was released by FM Revolver in 1989. Although it still proved this lot were way ahead of so many others who were selling truckloads of units and getting acclaim from the media; as the 1980s faded into memory, so too did Heavy Pettin.
Driven by a desire, a passion and a capacity simply to invoke the magic and rapport the band enjoyed, they released Prodigal Songs in 2007. The album was well received by their loyal fans and the limited pressing sold out making it a highly sought-after collector’s item.
In 2017, original members Hamie, Punky, and Gordon joined by Jez Parry on bass and Michael Ivory on drums performed for the first time in 25 years at Scotland’s WinterStorm. Reinvigorated, Heavy Pettin, now joined by ex-Gun guitarist Dave Aitken due to Punky hanging up his guitar and going in to retirement, did several shows in 2018 including a 6 date UK tour, with 3 sold out gigs in Nottingham, London and Edinburgh, as well as 2 sold out headline gigs in Milton Keynes and Glasgow.
2019 is going to be Heavy Pettin’s year with the HRH AOR March 16, Headbangers Open Air in Germany in July 27th and Aug 25th Golden Age of Rock Festival in Belgium already booked and more dates to be announced.
According to Hamie, fans should look for a new album as “…the demand and support for new HP material has been so overwhelming, we are excited to say we’re now working on brand new HP material which will be released in 2019… and it’s going great!”