Black ‘n’ Blue – affectionately known as ‘The Bruisers’, formed 30 years ago. Sheesh – that sounds a long time ago doesn’t it. I work with people who were born in 86 and 87, that’s after this album was released! It just seems like yesterday that Mr. Rockbrat and Cowboy Col were cranking out this GREAT Black ‘n’ Blue album on the Rockbrat stereo back in 85. We had a KI$$ buddy who flew from Sydney to the US to See KI$$ play several shows on their ‘Asylum’ tour and Black ‘n’ Blue had the support. He said he got tired of seeing the Bruisers (yet he thought Kiss were great. Weird. Kiss stunk on this tour. They looked like drag queens and the Asylum LP could replace bran muffins). Anyways, I remember the first time we saw the live video clip for ‘Hold On To 18’ and we were sold. Black ‘n’ Blue had a KI$$ connection as well, so that was good enough for Mr. Rockbrat to purchase the album. Black ‘n’ Blue originally hailed from Oregon, yet in 82 relocated to LA to further their career. They appeared on the first Metal Massacre LP, alongside Metallica, Ratt, and Malice. Good move. They did indeed gain a wider audience and unlike countless other hopefuls who made the move to LA, they were signed by a major label – Geffen Records. Geffen stuck with them for the rest of the 80’s and they released 4 albums, though they never bettered this, their debut album. It is a classic heavy metal album, and metal with a very European, particularly German metal flavour ie: Scorpions, Accept etc. Though I can also hear a lot of the same no frills approach that gave AC/DC so much success. Why they moved away from this rough, hard edged formula on the albums that followed this one is lost on me. With Accept/Scorpions producer Dieter Dirks producing the album, it’s no surprise that it has such a Euro metal edge to it. From top to bottom, all ten tracks on this LP are killer. ‘The Strong Will Rock’ is a great opener, fists in the air, anthemic metal. “School of Hard Knocks’ is also great, and ‘Hold On To 18’ probably the band’s best known tune was a minor hit. Dee Snider lookalike Jaime St. James has a great rock voice and he never sounded better than on this tune. The inclusion of the cover of the Sweet’s ‘Action’ is not really necessary – great version though that it is. Other than that tune, the entire album was penned by St. James and guitar player Tommy Thayer. My favourite tune though is ‘Chains Around Heaven’, an earlier version of which appeared on the Metal Massacre comp. A classic, old school metal song. This album is a must have. After this, they toned down the rougher edged rock and polished the sound to aim for a hit record and radio play, though it never happened and they split in 89. Jaime St. James later became the lead singer for Warrant, while Tommy Thayer continues to play lead guitar for KI$$. By the way I still find it appalling that he wears Ace’s make up. Tommy Thayer is a good guitar player, yet wearing the makeup made famous by another makes a mockery of the whole thing. I wish KI$$ would call it a day. Wigs, girdles, imposters in Ace’s and Peter’s makeup. The reunion tour was 15 years ago! How much bloody retirement money do you need? Sheesh – enough already. Pete Holmes is currently playing with Malice, and previously played with Michael Schenker, Peter Gabriel and Ted Nugent. Black’N’Blue will be performing in Denver, Colorado, on March 26!