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The Heaters - The Great Lost Heaters Album (Salter)

30 July 2008

This is essentially the first Heaters album, from 1978, but as proclaimed on the back, “This is not a reissue! This is a combined remix and rerecording!” The story behind that, as detailed in artist/band friend William Stout’s booklet notes, is a sad tale of talent betrayed by bad decisions and incompetent management.

The original album suffered from crappy production by Scott Shannon and Jack Stack-a-Track (when the band could have been produced by hitmeister Michael Chapman instead) and a boring session drummer replacing member Phil Cohen. Using a combination of the original session tapes, demos, and newly recorded parts (with Cohen reinstated as drummer), near the end of last year the band put out a version conforming to their own sound rather than their producers’. Three decades on, the classic underneath the bad production has been revealed, proving that the excitement they generated in their home base of Los Angeles was not mere hype.

Melissa “Missy” Connell (bass, vocals) wrote or co-authored most of the songs, imbuing the album with a great deal of stylistic variety, most of it including sly or loving winks at past styles yet sounding utterly 1978. Belting frontwoman Mercy Bermudez (AKA Theresa Robertson) sings as though her life depends on it, and the accompaniment’s just as energetic, surfing the New Wave with power pop notably informed by ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll – notably Maggie Connell’s pounding piano – and the hard ‘70s guitar of James Demeter. Even the slower tracks are bursting with tension. Three ebullient concert recordings are added as bonus tracks. I’d say this album easily lives up to its name. Can’t find it? Look here.