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FIRST CHILD Queen Of Hearts Onslow Records (2009)

With her debut 2006 debut album Souvenirs getting a great GRTR! review, German female hard rocking three piece First Child tackle that tricky second album.

With acknowledged classic British rock influences - in particular, Zeppelin, Coverdale / Hughes era Purple and Slash, Cat The Cat (vocals and bass), avoided the cheese trap on her debut by pulling out just about every trick in the rock chick handbook.

Queen Of Hearts picks off exactly where Souvenirs left off with the punchy title track, hot 'n' spicy female rock vocals, a chunky pop / rock beat and some neat lead guitar work. 'Gambler' is equally Spinal Tap, veering heavily towards the Chinn/Chapman school of glam pop rock. Perhaps not so overtly as Suzi Quattro or Sweet, but it nevertheless has a distinctly theatrical and engineered feel.

Cat's vocals are impeccable throughout the 16 track one hour set, but there's a nagging question mark over whether this is a genuine rock album or a clever parody of the genre. Guitarist Clark Philips' Noddy Holder look, and the questionable 'When I Dream' (the sort of number Shaky Stevens likes to cover) just add to the sense of unease that undermines the credibility of the set as a whole. And there's number of tracks such as 'Rock This Town', 'For The First Time', and 'Shout At The Devil' that sound overtly 70s glam pop.

There's couple of really stand out tracks - notably 'Every Bullet' - a ballad that falls somewhere between and Heart and Never The Bride, and 'Face In The Mirror' - two of the more restrained numbers which feature some lovely guitar work and have a far more natural feel.

At the end of the day, Queen Of Hearts is very commercial rock - all the moves and grooves, all the tricks and vocal pyrotechnics, and of course, plenty of cleavage. But for someone brought up on Zep, Purple and Whitesnake it's more in the order of magnitude of Vixen when it hits hard and Sweet, Suzi Quattro, Mud and Shaky where it falls short.

So contrived or cool? Cat The Cat or Can The Can? I still can't decide, but it's undeniably fun.


Review by Pete Whalley

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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