Black 'n Blue (Majestic Rock) 1984
Strong Will Rock" (4:08)
Considered by many to be a classic of heavy metal. Remembered by many as 'just another hair band.' However, early Black 'n Blue are far above your average hair band. Remember that Black 'n Blue made their debut on the same Metal Blade compilation as Metallica. Black 'n Blue were heavy metal, with a ton of attitude, considerable publicity and even video play on that new music station, MTV. They even had the pretty-boy image. We all thought that Black 'n Blue were destined for greatness. They had a sound that rivaled the big acts of the day, having more groove than Ratt and more soul that Quiet Riot. The band's debut was chock full of testosterone driven anthems from the single "Hold On To 18", to the excellent cover of Sweet's "Action", to the rocking "I'm the King". All in all, Black 'n Blue's debut was a very solid metal platter. Unfortunately, while they sold well, they didn't become as big as the aforementioned bands.
1. Rockin' On Heaven's Door (3:29)
Black 'N Blue began life as a heavy metal band with some glam leanings. I was introduced to them from a song titled "Chains Around Heaven" on the first Metal Massacre album. This song and their debut record were fairly heavy, though still containing some of the ultra-catchy LA glam metal leanings. "Without Love" was their follow-up to that album and while still containing the catchiness of the first album, the production strips the band of the raw edge that they had on the Metal Massacre and on their debut. This is no doubt due to producer Bruce Fairbain. Apparently the slick production on this album was so impressive to the Bon Jovi camp that they brought him in to produce "Slippery When Wet".
The best songs on "Without Love" are the harder rocking songs such as "We Got The Fire", "Swing Time" and "Stop The Lightning", which happens to be one of the best songs on the album, despite the questionable use of keyboards in the chorus. This track easily could have been included on the band's debut. "Rockin' On Heaven's Door" is a fun, hard rock anthem as well. Black 'n Blue throw a couple of slower tunes out this time around with the ballad "Miss Mystery" and the bluesy "Two Wrongs. Miss Mystery".
Jaime St. James comes off as a very likable, his voice falling in line with what was going on with most of the LA bands at the time. The guitar tag team of Tommy Thayer and Jeff Warner is still in place and though the crunch of their rhythm guitars are downplayed on this album, the solo work is still outstanding.
"Without Love" is a decent follow-up album marred only by an all-too-clean production. Despite this it's still a fun and enjoyable record.
1. Nasty Nasty (4:29)
Third album for Los Angeles, CA based Black 'n Blue. "Nasty Nasty" is mostly produced by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons who gives Black 'n Blue a fairly raw production, rather than over polishing and robbing the band of their raw rock 'n roll sound. One song, "I'll Be There For You", was written and produced by Bad English/Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain. It is easily the worst song on the album; cheesy, keyboard drenched AOR schlock without an ounce of personality. The rest of the album is straight-forward heavy rock and roll with solid hooks, some nice guitar work and Jamie St. James signature vocals. The best songs are the up-beat rockers such as "Kiss of Death","12 O'Clock High" and the title track.
Black 'n Blue - In Heat (Geffen) 1988
1. "Rock On"
Black 'n Blue is a band I never familiarized myself with other than hearing the occassional song here and there and their track on the first Metal Massacre CD. Many people have suggested I get their stuff. This is the first CD that I have been able to check out from beginning to end. From what I have been told, their first two albums are 'heavier'. This CD is pretty "poppy" sounding with a ton of radio ready rock and a few anthems. "Suspicious" almost has a dancable beat. That being said this CD isn't bad as I do enjoy this style of music. " The Snake" is one of the harder rockin' songs and also one of my favorites off this CD. " Get Wise to the Rise" has a pretty infectious sound as well. Some of this stuff reminds me of mid-80's Kiss, which may be partially due to the fact that Gene Simmons produced this album. (Of course guitarist Tommy Thayer eventually went on to work for Simmons and later even joined Kiss.) I will have to try to get some of their earlier material.