BLACK N’ BLUE – You Bruise, You Lose

By Carl Begai

For a band to return to the spotlight after a 20+ year absence and put out an album’s worth of new material that stays true to their original sound is almost unheard of. “Almost” because long gone ‘80s rock dogs Black N’ Blue have done just that, returning with the aptly titled Hell Yeah!, a record that does them proud and couldhave tipped the scales in their favour had it been released way back when. Vocalist Jaime St. James is justifiably proud of the album, and he doesn’t waste time worrying about the fact Black N’ Blue went out as little more than a footnote when things came to an end in 1989.

“It’s an awesome record, but Black N’ Blue have always been the underdogs of metal and it’s been that way for us all our lives. But, we’re good at what we do, and I guess that underdog status gives us a little bit of charm.”

When you stack Hell Yeah! up against recent albums from artists that cut their teeth around the same time – Bon Jovi, Warrant and Keel immediately come to mind – it’s more than mere charm. Their career was based on not trying to be like every other band on the scene at the time. Black N’ Blue made their biggest splash – according to the almighty MTV rating system – in 1984 with ‘Hold On To 18’ from the self-titled debut, releasing three more albums before finally calling it quits when their 1988 record In Heat fizzled.

“We’re a lot better than a lot of the bands that became bigger than us, which is a strange thing,” St. James agrees without missing a beat or naming names. “We signed to Geffen Records and they wanted to control us a little bit, so that kind of put a damper on everything. Other than that we did the best we could. When we got signed, we waited for months for (producer) Dieter Dierks because he had to finish the Scorpions’ Love At First Sting record. We waited and waited, and in the meantime we were offered the Ozzy tour. We couldn’t take it because we didn’t have an album out, so Ratt ended up getting the slot. There are all kinds of things that we did back in the day, decisions we made, that looking back on them now, I might have changed them. But, Black N’ Blue is what it is, and we’re a great band. That’s the bottom line.” Continue reading BLACK N’ BLUE – You Bruise, You Lose

EZO – When St. James Came Marching In

By Carl Begai

I recently crossed Black N’ Blue frontman Jaime St. James off my interview bucket list.

No, he doesn’t have the high profile career, matching fame, or “legendary” status of Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford, but St. James is one of those voices from my formative metalhead years in the ’80s that never disappeared. And while I can’t say that I’ve listened to Black N’ Blue religiously since the days I had a full head of hair, I can lay claim knowing every word, vocal nuance, widdly guitar part, drum fill and additional noise found on the Nasty Nasty record. It was and is one of those things I can’t explain beyond the fact it was music that struck a chord with me and became part of my bloodstream. That they have a new album out all these years later on par with Nasty Nasty is nothing short of fantastic in my world.

St. James recently took time out to discuss the record, Hell Yeah, and the interview will appear on these pages soon. In the meantime an excerpt from the chat is available below, as I address something that’s been bugging me for over two decades…

In 1987 a new band called EZO – rumoured to have been discovered by KISS legend Gene Simmons – started popping up regularly on MuchMusic and MTV through their video for the song ‘Flashback Heart Attack’. This was followed by a second single, ‘Here It Comes’. Hailing from Japan, they played the glam metal part well, fitting into the hair-and-make-up ’80s scene running amok at the time as if they were born to it. Musically, however, they were different from their more-pose-for-your-buck peers, making EZO something definitely worth investigating for a youngling with preferences for Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Helloween. Continue reading EZO – When St. James Came Marching In