Black 'N Blue

Black 'N Blue

Geffen, 1984

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Nothing like taking a trip down Memory Lane and looking at the old Metal Massacre albums—in particular, the debut release. For every band that made it big (Metallica), there were handfuls who pretty much languished in obscurity. And then, there were those who had limited success.

One such band in that third category was Black ’N Blue – otherwise known as where Tommy Thayer cut his chops before taking over Ace Frehley’s greasepaint in KISS. Their 1984 self-titled debut album featured the track “Chains Around Heaven,” which had made the cut onto my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Metal Massacre in 1982, and contained their only charting single with “Hold On To 18.”

Were they a fantastic band? No. Were they formulaic for their time? Yes. Is this still worth a listen? Surprisingly, the answer is “yes.”

Make no mistake, all the hair metal cliches are present and accounted for. Jaime St. James occasionally pulls off the patented Jim Gillette scream, though he does prove to be a competent vocalist. Lyrically, it’s your typical machismo cock-rock—right from the get-go on “The Strong Will Rock,” it’s there. “Got a pounding fever, got a pounding beat / Gonna pound my heat into your meat.” Give me a fuckin’ break.

Yet there is something about Black ’N Blue that does cause it to rise above similar albums of its ilk from that time period. The rhythm section of guitarist Jeff “Woop” Warner, bassist Patrick Young and drummer Pete Holmes provide a solid backbone to the material, and Thayer’s guitar work is fairly exceptional.

As for the songwriting? Yes, it’s similar to dozens of hair metal bands from the ’80s. But one can’t help cracking a smile listening to tracks like “Show Me The Night,” “Autoblast” and “One For The Money.” Yeah, you’ve heard this hundreds of times… but, somehow, Black ’N Blue make it sound a little fresher than before. Throw in a solid cover of Sweet’s “Action,” and you’ve got a fairly decent debut effort.

I can’t say that Black ’N Blue is the kind of album that would be getting constant rotation on the turntable in my man-cave. But it does show that the hair metal genre had some things going right for it, and while this disc does occasionally fall prey to the stereotypical traps that swept away lesser bands of the time, it’s not a half-bad first effort.

Rating: B-

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