Good Old Boys Revisited
When Britny Fox burst onto the scene in 1988 with their self-titled debut, they immediately garnered a lot of attention for their decadent Victorian glam look and back-to-basics AC/DC-inspired songwriting. Britny Fox nearly hit the platinum mark thanks to singles like “Girlschool,” “Long Way to Love” and “Save the Weak.” The early Britny sound was defined by leather-throated singer/guitarist “Dizzy” Dean Davidson leading the way over the tuneful riffs of onetime Cinderella guitarist Michael Kelly Smith.
Britny Fox was, of course, shear genius. Yet the Philadelphia hair-metal act wasn’t able to sustain the initial success. The Fox’s 1989 sophomore effort, Boys in Heat, boasted a tougher, more balanced approach to songwriting, but it never translated into commercial success. All of which definitely qualifies Boys as a lost classic.
The sound of a revving motorcycle screeching off into the distance opens “In Motion,” the disc’s first cut. It’s a track designed to really entice you in as a listener, with drummer Johnny Dee’s double-time chops and Davidson’s triple-time motor-mouth delivery evoking the hectic pace of the rock & roll lifestyle. Surer, steadier grooves follow in “Standing in the Shadows” and “Hair of the Dog” - thanks to the rock-steady playing of bassist Billy Childs. The latter song is, of course, a brilliant cover of the Nazareth classic. It continues in the footsteps of Britny’s version of Slade’s “Gudby T’Jane” on Britny Fox. Power-balladry dominates on “Dream On,” while tracks like “Long Way From Home,” “Shine On” and “Angel in My Heart” offer just the right combination of gritty mess and radio-friendly finesse.
In an interesting coincidence, Boys also found Britny shedding their signature sartorial look in favor of a denim-and-leather wardrobe. Perhaps because clothes were so closely associated with the band, they lost a sizable portion of their fan base when they took the haute couture leap. What a pity. Their sophomore effort is a quality one.