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Of all the silly names chosen by New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands, Cheltenham, England's Chateaux may just take the cake -- at least in terms of patriotic inappropriateness, if not inexplicability (Split Beaver or Ethel the Frog, anyone?). In any case, the band was formed circa 1981 by guitarist Tim Broughton, bassist Alec Houston, and drummer Andre Bayliss, and quickly found a home with upstart Ebony Records, which selected their song "Young Blood" for inclusion on 1982's Metal Maniaxe compilation, and then for individual release as a single. By then, singer Steve Grimmett had been added to the lineup, and it was his voice that graced Chateaux's full-length debut, Chained and Desperate, just a year later. But, for reasons unknown, the rest of the group made it a point to insist at every opportunity that Grimmett was nothing more than a guest, leaving the exit door open for him to refocus on labelmates Grim Reaper, with whom he went on to find far greater fame.
Ironically, as it soon transpired, only guitarist and chief songwriter Broughton was guaranteed a chair at the table, and by the release of the following year's sophomore Firepower LP, both Houston and Bayliss had been replaced by vocalist/bassist Krys Mason and drummer Chris Dadson (ex-Aragorn). Arguably, and even though Grimmett was certainly a more talented singer overall, many observers believed that the change was for the better, with this album pursuing a more direct and energetic route than Chateaux's sometimes overwrought debut -- which itself had shown quite a bit of promise, mind you. The same could not be said for 1985's frankly water-treading Highly Strung album, whereupon headbanging energy had clearly taken precedence over anything remotely intelligent or original, and, when disappointing sales combined with the band's reluctance to tour outside its local region, the time was nigh for the members of Chateaux to bid their fans adieu and go their separate ways. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
- Cheltenham, England
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