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Tyneside, England's Fist was but one of many early-'80s bands associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement (although, if you want to get really specific, they should actually be filed under the Northeastern New Wave of British Heavy Metal!) whose career success ultimately failed to match early expectations. Originally calling themselves Axe, vocalist/guitarist Keith Satchfield, guitarist Dave Irwin, bassist Dave Durey, and drummer Harry "Hiroshima" Hill first joined forces in April 1978, and by September had recorded their first single, entitled "S.S. Gyro." But the young band soon lost heart due to the unpopular state of hard rock and heavy metal at the time (punk was still ruling the country), temporarily breaking up before acquiring new bassist John Wylie and making a fresh start by changing their name to Fist. By then, a new wave of English bands (fittingly tagged the New Wave of British Heavy Metal) had turned punk's corner, and Fist's next single, 1980's "Name, Rank and Serial Number," would become (along with efforts by the Tygers of Pan Tang and White Spirit) one of the very first releases by local record label and legendary NWOBHM hotbed Neat Records. Championed by Sounds journalist Geoff Barton, among others, the single sold respectably enough for Fist and the other two bands cited above to be pawned off to major record company MCA as part of a three-band package deal. Another single, entitled "Forever Amber," soon followed, and come November Fist delivered its full-length debut, Turn the Hell On, and headed out on the road with none other than British hard rock heavyweights UFO. But the tour made Fist few new fans, and when the bandmembers returned home, it was to discover that their album had fared even worse, earning mild reviews at best and never even brushing against the charts. Even worse, MCA, which only months earlier was intent on replicating rival EMI's instant success with Iron Maiden, had apparently lost interest in all of their NWOBHM signings. After disapproving of Fist's next batch of demos that June, the label decided against renewing the group's contract. Not sure of what to do next, the members of Fist took some time off, and when Neat Records finally announced their return to both activity and their roster, it was with the shock information that former frontman and key songwriter Satchfield had been replaced by new singer Glenn Coates (ex-Hollow Ground) and rhythm guitarist John Roach (ex-Mythra), while Wylie had made way for new bassist Joe Appleby. Thus retooled, the quintet issued Fist's second album, Back With a Vengeance, in early 1982, and, other than exchanging some rawboned intensity for clean, melodic efficiency, the results were not terribly dissimilar from its predecessor. Unfortunately, commercial acceptance -- or lack thereof -- was also the same, and, growing desperate now, Fist approached pop overkill with its next single, a serviceable but hardly career-saving cover of Dion's "The Wanderer." Oblivion beckoned, and the emotionally and creatively spent members of Fist were only too happy to welcome its embrace soon thereafter. Thankfully, just when it was becoming impossible to find original copies of Fist's original LPs, 2002's Back with a Vengeance: The Anthology was released to remind fans of the band's short but memorable existence. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
April, 1978 in Tyneside, England