All posts by limelightmagazine

The Cassette Chronicles – Julliet’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

 JULLIET – JULLIET (1990)

It is not often that I find myself at a complete loss when it comes to having knowledge of a band that came from the 80’s metal years. Usually even if I’ve never heard a band’s music, I’ve at least heard of the band at the very least. In the case of Florida-to-L.A. transplants Julliet, I can’t even say that I remember hearing the band’s name back in the day.

You can imagine how this would inevitably lead me down the Internet research rabbit hole after listening to the album in full. Despite having some of the expected trappings of the glam metal scene of late 1980’s/early ’90s Los Angeles, the band’s self-titled debut album is a chock full of one surprisingly good song after another.

Julliet featured Kenny McGee on vocals, Jimmi DeLisi on guitar, Ty Westerhoff on bass and drummer Greg Pecka. While their sound hit the expected benchmarks I mentioned in the previous paragraph, there was also a bluesy edge to a lot of the material, particularly in the gritty vocal style of McGee.

While there are two ballads on the album (one per album side), the band mostly rocked out in a really entertaining fashion. I will say that the mid-tempo ballad on side one, “No More Tears” suffered a bit from McGee’s vocals coming off with an entirely overdone arched tone to them. There’s a decent rhythmic feel to the music but the vocal style for this particular song seemed miscast. It is the only complaint I would say I had with any of the singing on this record. The other ballad was the song “Chip Away” and that was was a solid track from start to finish.

As for the rocking out aspect of the band’s sound, the album opens with three straight rockers and they are really something to hear. The extra bit of edginess in McGee’s vocals really helps make “Eight Lives Gone” into something special. The song’s chorus is outstanding. Meanwhile, “Stay The Night” sounds as if it should’ve been a big hit single for the band, there’s a great mix of lyrics and music on the song and if the track had been released even three years earlier, we could have an entirely different remembrance of the band.

The anthem “Little Bit Of Party” might not set lyricists aflame with the band’s wordplay but as party anthem rockers go, it does fan the flames of anyone who lived during “The Metal Years”.

As the second side opened, I did think “Revvin’ Me Up” featured a bit more repetition in the lyrics than I might normally enjoy but again, the rocking nature of the track just carried me along with it and I’d be inclined not to really nitpick all that much over the words.

The band’s cover of the 1972 Randy Newman song “You Can Leave Your Hat One” is a slightly off-kilter inclusion on the album given the nature of the rest of the material but they actually pull it off and make the song their own. Given that the song has been covered by a number of artists like Etta James and Joe Cocker, it’s nice that a rock band could do the track justice as well.

While not what I would generally consider a full on ballad given the more lively pacing, the closing track “Love Can Change You” is a solid number. But my favorite song on the album would likely be “Something You Should Know”. The song is a fast paced rocker and for me, it was just a sublimely cool cut.

When I pulled this album out of the “Big Box of Cassettes”, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Would it be a good listen or would it be another example of the latter part of the decade featuring bands that sounded more and more like each other as to be relatively indistinguishable.

Thankfully, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that the Julliet album struck me as a real undiscovered gem. It is a vastly entertaining release that is one of the better albums that I’ve had the chance to find my way to through the writing of this series.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The band, for all intents and purposes, broke up for more than a decade before two albums were released in the early 2000s. The first of those two releases was called Passion and it was actually recorded before Julliet but never released until 2002. The album was produced by Quiet Riot’s Kevin Dubrow and featured Frankie Banali on drums. The third Julliet album was released in 2004 and called Pyscho Boyfriend.

The band does have a Facebook page and while it isn’t overly active with posts or anything, it does seem to get some posts here and there. Singer Kenny McGee who is living back in Florida from what I’ve been able to find out, is still active as a singer to this day. He’s also spent time as a pro wrestler and according to his personal Facebook page is (or was) a personal trainer.

The Julliet album was produced by Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan who is also credited with providing “backing guitar” and he played the guitar solo on five of the album’s songs.

Scott Warren played keyboards on the album as well as arranging the horns on the song “You Can Leave Your Hat On”. Warren would go on to play keys for Dio and is currently a member of Dio Disciples. (Special thanks to DJ Will of KNAC.COM for confirming this last bit of information.)

The Cassette Chronicles – Tyketto’s ‘Don’t Come Easy’

BY JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

TYKETTO – DON’T COME EASY  (1991)

In 1991, the fall of hard rock and heavy metal from the throne of the music world was well underway. Originality was not in as abundance as it had been and there were dozens of copycat sound alike bands out there.

Joining the fray for a piece of that ever-shrinking piece of the pie was Tyketto, led by ex-Waysted vocalist Danny Vaughn. I distinctly remember seeing advertisements in the music magazines I read at the time for this debut album. However, my memory is a bit more vague about the “hit” single the band had. The song was “Forever Young” and because I never really got into the band at the outset, I’m not sure I ever heard the track. If I did, it failed to make much of an impression. So for me, the band kind of just came and went and I didn’t exactly mourn their passing as it were.

Fast forward to 2016 and a different version of the band, with Vaughn on vocals after being out of the band a few times and I had the chance to review the Tyketto album Reach. While the album did have some tracks I didn’t care for, there were also quite a few that I did enjoy including a magnificent song called “The Run”. So I was pleased to discover that I could enjoy Tyketto’s music after all.

So a little more than two years later, at long last, I dug out the cassette of Don’t Come Easy from the Big Box of Cassettes and popped it in to see what I thought of the band’s earliest recorded output.

I have to say that I was a little more than impressed. But it didn’t start out that way. In fact, it was “Forever Young”, again the band’s best known track, that led off the album. And while it was more of a rocking type of song, I didn’t really think it was more than a bit bland. I had visions that the rest of the album would turn into an audio slog. After all, this was their big song and I didn’t think it was anything special.

But in a nice twist, it is the rest of the album that had my appreciation of Tyketto growing by leaps and bounds. Truth be told, I loved all of the remaining nine songs on the album. It started with “Wings” which showed off an even more rocking sound to the band. This is true of all of the other songs with the exception of the requisite power ballad “Standing Alone”. However, in the case of that song, the band chose to forgo telling another lame tale of love that may or may not have gone wrong. The lyrical direction was more of along the lines of an affirmation over choices made over the course of time. While I can’t quite put my finger on why, the lyrics seemed to resonate with me quite strongly.

“Seasons” started off a bit light, but then added in more of an edge to the music. “Sail Away” and “Strip Me Down” were pretty hard charging numbers too. The latter song featured the inclusion of a harmonica which gave a bit for heft to the sound of the song. 

Meanwhile, the use of those big dramatic chorus of backing vocals on “Lay Your Body Down” heightened the sense of urgency in the song. It was a kinetically charged track with a strong sense of melody.

My favorite song on the album didn’t quite start out that way. There’s a brief but uninteresting intro on “Walk On Fire”. It left me kind of cold, but after that quick little mis-step, the band blew out of the speakers like a bat out of hell and that increased epic sounding rocker became a huge piece of music for me.

My newfound appreciation of Don’t Come Easy certainly took its own sweet time getting here (more than 27 years after the initial release) but I have to say that the wait paid off because the album is, with that one notable personal exception, a great collection of songs from a band that definitely got passed over as metal lost its commercial sway. But Tyketto certainly had the chops to have been a great band representing the more melodic side of hard rock and metal.

NOTE OF INTEREST – With Danny Vaughn out of the band, Tyketto released their third album in 1995. The featured vocalist of the band at that point was Steve Augeri, who would later go on to front Journey.

The Cassette Chronicles – Danger Dangers self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

DANGER DANGER – DANGER DANGER (1989)

Back in May of 2018, after seeing singer Ted Poley in a solo show, I ended up writing an entry in this series about the second Danger Danger album Screw It!

Until now, I’ve never written about the band’s debut album because I never owned it. That changed last week when the owner of an area record shop messaged me a photo of a bunch of cassettes that he’d just purchased. Lo and behold, there was a cassette edition of the self-titled debut album from the band.

Since the New England Patriots were stomping all over the Chargers in the AFC title game, when halftime came, I took a ride and made a purchase of some of those albums from the photo.

And so it now comes to pass that I get to write about the first offering from Danger Danger. The first side of the album ends up being the front-loaded part of the release. The band’s best known songs, “Naughty Naughty” and “Bang Bang” are on Side One. They are great songs and even though I wasn’t really into the band when they first hit the scene, those two songs are immediate melodic sensations that even the most casual of rock and metal fans from back in the day would know.

The more immediate surprise for me was the fact that when confronted with the band’s ballad track, I found myself enjoying it. “Don’t Walk Away” would’ve probably been a song I should’ve hated. This was 1989 and the requirement that every rocking band had to have a ballad to get the lighters in the air at a concert was in full force. The problem being that they weren’t really necessarily good examples of songwriting. However, I think “Don’t Walk Away” passed the test and is a rather decent song.

There’s a bit of familiarity in the subject matter of “Under The Gun”. It’s the cautionary tale of a small town girl hitting the big city and finding out life isn’t all that glamorous after all. Thankfully, while the story is the same as a number of other tracks, the musical background was pretty good. I wasn’t crazy about the excessive echoing sound for the vocal track, but overall, this was a good song.

As for “Saturday Nite”, that’s just a purely blazing track that gets your heart to thumping.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite as taken with the second side of the album. Things start off great with “Rock America”. Again, there’s a bit of familiarity with the anthemic nature of the song and lyrics, but the track still works well.

After that track, the next four songs didn’t do much for me. I listened to them and just felt as if they kind of just barely rose above being filler tracks. On “Boys Will Be Boys”, I have a feeling while the song would’ve been perfect in its initial release, if it came out now it would be on the receiving end of a lot of complaining from those groups who make it their life’s goal to complain about EVERYTHING these days. It’s far from being politically correct, that’s for sure.

The ballad on Side 2 is “One Step From Paradise” and while it isn’t terrible, the song just doesn’t have the same stick to your ribs feel as “Don’t Walk Away” did.

It isn’t until the last song on the album, “Live It Up”, that the band truly recaptured my interest. It’s just a flat out rocker with lyrics that serve as a kind of affirmation of pursuing dreams regardless of where you start out from.

It’s funny how things turn out, no? Initially I had no interest in the band beyond their two big rocking hits, then I see a show and discover that they did indeed have some great music. While I’m not as big a fan of this first release by Danger Danger as I was of album #2, there is still a good dose of the kind of rock and roll that I loved back in the 80’s and still love to this day.

NOTES OF INTEREST: All songs for the Danger Danger debut album were written by bassist Bruno Ravel and drummer Steve West.

While Andy Timmons is listed as a member of the group, he actually only played guitar on two of the album’s 11 songs. His predecessor in the band was Tony “Bruno” Rey, and his work was featured on the other nine songs. While he played on a number of rock albums in the 80’s and 90’s, these days Rey serves as the musical director/guitarist for Enrique Iglesias.

The Danger Danger album got reissued by Rock Candy Records in 2014 and included five live songs as bonus tracks.

The Cassette Chronicles – THOMPSON TWINS’ ‘INTO THE GAP’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

THOMPSON TWINS – INTO THE GAP (1984)

Back when I was still listening to Casey Kasem imploring me to keep reaching for the stars every week, I was really into the Thompson Twins song “Hold Me Now”. It seems strange to me now that I loved the song so much at a time when my musical appetites were in the midst of a seismic shift, but so be it. I loved “Hold Me Now” back then, and even now when I hear the song on the easy listening station I have to listen to at work, I still get a pleasurable sense of nostalgia whenever they play this song.

The Thompson Twins had several incarnations and three albums prior to the release of the Into The Gap album. But it was this album and a reduction of the band down to a trio that saw the group experience the biggest success of their career as the album went platinum in the US and sold over 5 million copies worldwide. 

The trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway were the last members standing from the earlier versions of the band and they really captured a perfect musical moment. The band was credited with writing all the music and Currie providing the lyrics. But despite loving “Hold Me Now”, I never actually went out and bought the album. I’d heard the “Doctor! Doctor!” song on the radio as well but that’s it. There are seven other tracks that I can’t recall ever hearing until I decided to write about the album for this article.

An odd note about the album is that it had several different track orders depending on which version of the album you bought at the time of its release. I checked Wikipedia and the version I have isn’t even listed if you can believe that!

Anyway, the first track on my version of the album is the aforementioned “Doctor! Doctor!” and while I know it was a moderately successful single, it really didn’t strike that nostalgic chord with me as I listened to it. In fact, a lot of the material for this album would fall into the “okay but not much more than filler” category for me. 

It’s funny to me because these days artists are starting to kill off the idea of doing full studio albums and just release singles whenever they have a new song to share with the music world. After listening to the full Into The Gap album, I think the group would’ve been better off just releasing singles back in 1984. Of course, then there’d be the debate over which tracks those would’ve been. I know that because the songs that eventually got chosen as singles aside from “Hold Me Now” and “Doctor! Doctor!” weren’t songs I ended up caring about all that much.

The two other main single picks were problematic for me. “You Take Me Up” moved rather slowly with Tom Bailey’s vocals coming off as a bit disengaged from the musical backing during the main lyrical verses. The chorus gave his singing more focus but it made for a rather disjointed combination. Meanwhile, “Sister of Mercy” just completely fell flat to my ears.

The fifth single was “The Gap” but there seemed to be little in the way of a promotional push for that song since they didn’t even bother to make a video for that one. Which is a shame because it had an intense musical vibe to it, giving the song some additional heft to it, in my opinion. I really liked that one. 

As for the rest of the tracks on the album, they were of adequate quality but never really rose to the point of making me want to hear them again. “Storm On The Sea” was a particularly painful exercise to get through.

While the success of “Hold Me Now” will always be a prideful musical moment for me, I am glad that I never went out and bought Into The Gap when the album was a hit. I would’ve been profoundly disappointed in just how ineffectual I found the majority of the rest of the music on the album. As one who is still proud of my pop music fandom of the past, disappointment is definitely the watchword for this album.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Joe Leeway left the group in 1986 with Currie and Bailey continuing on as a duo for a number of years. They later changed the name of the group to Babble and released two studio albums under that banner.

Alannah Currie and Tom Bailey were married for 12 years before divorcing. She is out of the music business these days and works as an artist. Bailey has toured as Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey on various nostalgia themed tours in recent years.

In 2008, Edsel Records released a 2 disc CD edition of Into The Gap.

The Cassette Chronicles – House of Lords’ ‘Demons Down’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HOUSE OF LORDS – DEMONS DOWN (1992)

Recorded and released in 1992 just as the grunge era was beginning and effectively killing off the 80’s metal movement, the third studio album from House of Lords was pretty much ignored by both the music world at large and by myself as well.

I had pretty much moved on from the band at this particular point in time. And I’ve never heard the Demons Down album until listening to it for this article. As it turns out, I really missed out on a solidly entertaining album.

Singer James Christian and keyboardist Gregg Giuffria recorded the album with a reconstituted lineup that featured Tommy Aldridge (Whitesnake, Black Oak Arkansas) on drums, Sean McNabb (Quiet Riot) on bass and Dennis Chick on guitar (for reasons passing understanding, the guitarist was billed solely as “Chick” on the album’s liner notes).

The Demons Down album opened with a couple of songs that featured overtly religious sounding lyrics. However, there was a contrast between the two songs that made one enjoyable and the other one not so much. On the opening track “O Father”, while the overall feel of the song was done well enough, the lyrics/vocal performance came off as overly preachy. For someone like me that has as little to do with religion as possible, it was a little too much for me to fully enjoy the song.

But then came the title track as a follow up. And while that one still featured an in your face sense of the religious in the song’s lyrical content, they came off more as a storytelling device rather than a protracted screed. When they combined it with a bluesy musical score that eventually blew out to a more rocking style, there was just something to the song that made it a special bit of music.

I have to hand it to the band, they even managed to craft a solidly entertaining power ballad with “What’s Forever For”. Musically, the song is kind of what you would expect from the time of its release. But lyrically, the viewpoint of the song is coming from the end of a relationship rather than the start of one or the besotted state of romantic feelings in the midst of one. I don’t know, maybe the song just caught me right, but it was a very good track.

The song “Talk About Love” was musically invigorating particularly towards the end of the song, but I found “Spirit Of Love”, the closing song to the first side of the album to be little more than a pedestrian run through and would likely skip the song whenever I next listen to the album.

The first song on the album’s second side is “Down, Down, Down” and while the song title might not be anything special, the little guitar solo that opens it was pretty interesting. There’s a heavier musical sound to the track with a gritty set of almost vicious sounding lyrics. I really liked this song except to point out that the backing vocals tended to get a little drowned out with all that was going on musically.

There’s little nice to be said about the song “Inside You”. It was a complete chore to get through this song as it was a morass of pomposity that I’d think would be way too much for even the most die hard House of Lords fan to take more than once. It was just flat out BAD!

However, the band did itself proud with two fast paced straight forward rockers on this side of the album. “Johnny’s Got A Mind Of His Own” is a shot of pure rocking energy and the car driving down the open highway nature of “Metallic Blue” featured a tempo that matched perfectly with the song’s lyrical bent. These two tracks were wildly entertaining to my ears.

The album closer, “Can’t Fight Love”, is another uptempo song that ends up bringing Demons Down to a rousing finish, letting the album finish with a flourish not a whimper.

I wrote about the band’s Sahara album back in October 2018 and said that I thought it was one of my favorite albums that I’d written about doing this series. As much as it surprises me to say this, I think I’d have to include Demons Down (despite those two songs I didn’t like) in that category as well. Because when the band is on fire, their songs just reach out and grab you. In retrospect, I’m finding that I’d likely have enjoyed House of Lords a lot if I’d only stayed with them throughout the entirety of their career.

 NOTES OF INTEREST: Dennis Chick would go on to join Ex-White Lion singer Mike Tramp’s group Freak of Nature and play on both of that band’s studio releases.

Backing vocalists on Demons Down included Fiona, David Glen Eisley and Kiss singer Paul Stanley. Stanley was featured on the song “Can’t Fight Love”.

The Cassette Chronicles – L.A. Guns self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

 L. A. GUNS – L. A. GUNS (1988)

Say what you want about the long and winding (and ever so confusing) road that the band L.A. Guns has found itself on over the 30 plus years of its existence, they really had it all going for them on this first album.

If you paid any attention to the Los Angeles metal scene in the 1980’s, you know all about the birth of the band, so I’m not going to rehash that here. Instead I want to focus on the album itself.

The eleven tracks show the band as a down and dirty gritty rock and roll band. While they might never have attained the commercial peaks as some of their counterparts, this debut is chock full of great music.

The funny thing about that statement is that try as I might, I can’t remember why this was the only album that I ever bought from the band. Nor can I recall why I probably haven’t listened to it in nearly 30 years either. I bought the album on cassette when it first came out but it disappeared from my collection and I never bothered to get it back until I started gathering material for this series.

So you can imagine how delighted I was to be kind of experiencing the music again like it was the first time.

The first side of the album bursts out of the speakers with a real kick in the pants rocker in “No Mercy”. In fact, the band rarely takes their foot off the gas on the album with the exception of the ballad track, which by 1988 was pretty much a required element for any band releasing material.

L.A. Guns (which featured Phil Lewis on vocals, Tracii Guns and Mick Cripps on guitar, Kelly Nickels on bass and Steve Riley on drums) rocketed through what can only be described as some of their now-classic tracks like the immensely satisfying “Sex Action” (no pun intended there), “One More Reason” and “Electric Gypsy”. Great songs one and all.

Side two opened with “Bitch Is Back” (an original track, not a cover of the Elton John song), which given how the band is situated now, comes off sounding like the perfect song to open their live sets.

That song feeds into the instrumental “Cry No More” and the aforemention ballad track, “One Way Ticket’.  This is normally where I’d tell you how I nearly vomited with how wimpy and sugary the song was but in a welcome twist in the tale, I loved the instrumental which had a really strong and cool sound to it. As for “One Way Ticket”, it was more of a power ballad and in all honesty, it kind of rocked. In terms of emotional content in a song, this one was chock full of it. I particularly enjoyed the vocal expression/performance from Phil Lewis. It is a killer track!

After that bit of an emotive slowdown, the band kicks the pace up with three highly charged rockers to close out the album. “Hollywood Tease”, “Shoot For Thrills” and “Down In The City” are all pretty decent songs overall, but I do think they are just a bit of a TINY step down from the rest of the songs on the album.

So while it has been a long time since I have heard the L.A. Guns album, I was pleased to discover all over again that the band had a raw and raucous sound that manages to catch your ear and get your blood pumping. I had quite the enjoyable experience listening to this album and if you haven’t listened to this one lately, you’d be well advised to give the album a new spin!

NOTES OF INTEREST: While Steve Riley was listed as the drummer on the debut album, it was Nickey Alexander who played the drum parts for it. He left the band before the release of the album. He would later guest on the band’s Vicious Circle album and spent two years playing with The Cramps as well.

Rock Candy Records reissued the L.A. Guns album in 2012.

I mentioned the long and winding road for the band. For years there has been bad blood between the various members and two different versions of the band. Steve Riley and Phil Lewis had one version for years while Tracii Guns fronted the 2nd version. However, Lewis and Guns reunited to release a new L.A. Guns album called The Missing Peace in 2017. (The album is actually quite good) and will release The Devil You Know sometime in 2019. This version of the band will be playing a local show in my area (New Bedford, MA) in the Vault at Greasy Luck on Saturday, April 13, 2019. Meanwhile, Steve Riley’s version of the band will be appearing at this year’s M3 Festival in Maryland.

The Cassette Chronicles – Black ‘N Blue’s self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BLACK ‘N BLUE – BLACK ‘N BLUE (1984)

Welcome to another year of The Cassette Chronicles. The third year of this series will now be coming to you on (Throwback) Thursday but you can bet that I’ll still be reflecting back on a variety of rock, pop and heavy metal albums throughout the year.

We’re starting the year off with an album that will be marking its 35th anniversary later this summer. Of course, given that 1984 was a pretty important year musically, I’m sure I’ll be mentioning that in more than just this particular article. So let’s get things going, shall we?

The self-titled debut album from Black ‘N Blue is a bit of an odd duck for me. I’m struck by the fact that while there’s a standard hard driving rock feel to the songs, there really didn’t seem to be an overabundance of melody to a lot of the music. By this I mean, it just hit you in the face with a rock and roll attitude but somehow also comes off a little bit tuneless to my ear. It seems strange to say that but that was my initial impression. Things did get a little better, but first impressions are generally on the mark in my experience.

The album starts off with two anthems in “The Strong Will Rock” and “School Of Hard Knocks”. As I said, the band quickly establishes itself in terms of rocking out but neither song really got me overly excited. The majority of the songs on the album were written by singer Jaime St. James and Tommy Thayer (guitarist Jeff Warner, bassist Patrick Young and drummer Pete Holmes received a single co-writing credit each) so any issues I have with the overall quality of the individual tracks would be laid at their feet.

It was the song “Autoblast” that first got my attention. It come out firing fast and furious and really caught my ear. The band followed that one up with “Hold On To 18”, which has the distinction of being the only song that enjoyed any success as a single. When I heard it, it was instantly memorable but I couldn’t tell you where I’ve heard it before because I never owned this album in the past. Still, it is a pretty good and it was the song that started to turn my opinion around regarding the album as a whole.

The song “Wicked Bitch” closed out the first side of the cassette and it was a very hard rocking number.

Side two of the album opened with a cover of the Sweet song “Action”. It was also the first of four songs in a row where the shouted choruses (featuring the song title, of course) really worked better for me than on side one.

The album really had nothing in the way of soft balladry with Black ‘N Blue instead focusing their energy crafting volume driven rockers. I wasn’t crazy about “I’m The King” or the closing song “Chains Around Heaven” but “Show Me The Night” and “One For The Money” were pretty good.

Look, Black ‘N Blue is always going to be best known for being the band from which both St. James and Thayer went on to bigger and better bands/things. That’s just immutable truth. But while this is definitely a look at the band in their musical infancy, it does have some pretty special moments threaded throughout the album. It won’t be remembered as a great album, but for those music fans who like the idea of listening to a band’s entire discography as a means of doing musical genealogy, it gives you a raw and somewhat unrefined look at where the band started out from.

NOTE OF INTEREST: The album was produced by Dieter Dierks who is probably best known for his longtime association with the Scorpions and for his work with Accept as well.