• Hitmen
  • Aim for the Feet (Columbia) 1980 
  • Torn Together (Columbia) 1981 

London’s Hitmen — not the unrelated Australian group, a contemporaneous outgrowth of Radio Birdman — debuted with a DIY debut single (“She’s All Mine” b/w “Slay Me with Your 45”) of razor-sharp rhythm’n’pop which meshed terse but tasty guitar and keyboards over snappy bass and drums, topped by Ben Watkins’ Graham Parker-cum-David Bowie vocals. Yet on Aim for the Feet, re-recorded versions of those songs fall flat; it takes repeated listenings to discover that they — along with a passel of other tunes as good and better — have fallen victim to colorless, punchless production.

With producer Rhett Davies at the helm on Torn Together, the quartet fares far better, crafting a succession of cleverly arranged and smartly played hooks that grow more impressive (not to mention catchier) with each hearing. The format incorporates more modern, Ultravoxian elements while avoiding the inherent pitfalls — until Side Two, that is, which is alternately arty and bathetic instead of hewing to the earlier, earthier approach.

Ex-Hitmen guitarist Pete Glenister later turned up recording and touring with Bojangles, Terence Trent D’Arby’s band.

[Jim Green]

See also: Youth & Ben Watkins