Friday, May 13, 2011
Black N Blue Raises A Little Hell Yeah!
I don’t care what anyone says, the 80s gave us a lot of great music. The second half of the decade saw the emergence of “hair bands” and it seemed like they were popping up everywhere. There were quite a few “one hit wonders” and even more “no hit wonders”. The market became oversaturated with them and some of the deserving seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
Black N Blue was one of those bands. You might even say that they were the Rodney Dangerfield’s of metal. They released four albums between 1984-1988 and had a few MTV hits. They even had the great Gene Simmons of KISS produce their last two albums, but they never seemed to get that proverbial “break” that pushed them to the next level. It’s a shame because this band had it all together. They had the look, the sound and the attitude.
Fast forward twenty three years and you find them back together and about to unleash the album that would have catapulted them to that next level. The original band is back: Jaime St. James on vocals, Jeff Warner on guitar, Patrick Young on bass, Pete Holmes on drums and Shawn Sonnenschein takes over the guitar reigns from Tommy Thayer. They have just released Hell Yeah! And it’s enough to make you want to break out your acid washed jeans and tease your hair high!
This is what Black N Blue is supposed to sound like right here. I am not sure if the band got caught up in the corporate machine after their debut album or what, but this is the raw, dirty sound that is Black and Blue. The nasty bass line from Patrick at the beginning of the leadoff track “Monkey” hooks the listener in and then the crunching guitar of Shawn grabs you by the neck and demands your attention. This is one of the best tracks on the album.
“Hail Hail” is a song that I really hope they add to their live show. I can envision the crowd with their fists pumping in the air and chanting along with that chorus. Also, Shawn has some insane guitar work on this song. The solo that he lays down is blistering. The title track is also another rocker that is similar in vain as it showcases Shawn’s fretwork.
There are two songs that may be considered rock/ballads. “Falling Down” and “Fools Bleed” are slower numbers, but they still pack that rock intensity. I also think they show how another side of the bands’ songwriting and that they do have a serious side. On the other hand, the 54 second “Jaime’s Got the Beer” seems like an out take meant for the cutting room for. I am still pondering on the meaning of the last track, “A Tribute to Hawking”. I know it is about Stephen Hawking, but I am just not sure of the point. Maybe it’s a little tongue in check, I just don’t get it.
Overall, Hell Yeah! simply ROCKS! Who knows, maybe if it would have been released back in the late 80s, then maybe Black N Blue could have joined the ranks of a Bon Jovi or Motley Crue. They certainly did deserve the attention and accolades that those guys were getting. I have to tip my hat to Jaime St. James also. His voice is superb on this release. It has a sense of maturity to it and a little bit of a rough edge that adds to the songs.
I highly recommend Hell Yeah! to old school fans from the 80s and even modern fans of metal. I think up and coming bands should listen to this as they prepare to record their debut album so that they can see what real rock and roll should sound like. It’s not an old school 80s sound recycled by the band, but rather they embrace that old school mentality of how to rock. I just hope we don’t have to wait 23 years for the follow up to this one.