Hard Stuff – Bulletproof (1972)

HardStuff_Bulletproof4 out of 5 Stars!

Because of its power-trio line-up and the era of its brief existence, not to mention the occasional hard-driving and often funky rhythms showcased on its debut album, this U.K. band always reminded me of the legendary Trapeze, only with a more “metal” edge.

Featuring underappreciated guitarist John Cann (Atomic Rooster), lauded bassist (RIP) Johnny Gustafson (Ian Gillan Band/Roxy Music/Quatermass), and drummer Paul Hammond (Atomic Rooster), Hard Stuff started in 1970 (along with vocalist Al Shaw) under the name Daemon, then (for whatever the reason) dropped Shaw to forge onward as a threesome.

And that’s what I originally viewed as a detriment—the fact that Trapeze possessed an extraordinary and recognizable vocalist in bassist Glenn Hughes, whereas Hard Stuff did not. So, to be perfectly frank, I originally never embraced this album due to its “only average” vocals.

But thankfully, with hindsight being 20/20, I reexamined Bulletproof in the past decade, paying closer attention to the stellar musicianship involved, and have since grown quite fond of it. Indeed, it’s heavy as hell, with occasionally Blues-influenced tracks such as “Sinister Minister,” “Taken Alive,” “Millionaire,” “Mr. Longevity,” “Time Gambler (Rodney)”,” “The Provider,” and “No Witch at All,” blaring out of the speakers. One other track in particular, “Monster in Paradise”—which I vividly remembered through the many years before once again revisiting this release—was a collaboration between Gustafson and Ian Gillan/Roger Glover of Deep Purple fame, and (to me) sounds as if it could have easily fit into the other band’s repertoire—or at least, I can easily imagine Gillan singing it.

Regardless, before finally disbanding, Hard Stuff went on to create a second platter (Bolex Dementia), but also altered its style a bit, thus leaving Bulletproof as the group’s unrivaled masterpiece. Therefore, fans of other Proto-Metal groups of the era such as Dust, May Blitz, Sir Lord Baltimore, Three Man Army, etc. who are unfamiliar with this group would likely find this debut album of interest.

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