CD Reviews

Tokyo Blade - 'Blackhearts And Jaded Spades / Ain't Misbehavin'' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 27, 2011    
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First  double CD featuring Tokyo Blade re-issues.

This review covers Tokyo Blade - 'Blackhearts And Jaded Spades / Ain't Misbehavin'' and Tokyo Blade - 'No Remorse / Burning down Paradise'.

Had this review been written 400 years ago by William Shakespeare it would have been titled 'The Curse Of Tokyo Blade – A Tragedy In Four Acts'… By the time they'd unveiled their second album 'Night Of The Blade' in 1984, original vocalist Alan Marsh and bassist Andy Robbins had been replaced by the impossibly pretty and immensely athletic Vicki James Wright and Andy Wrighton, and a couple of EPs later they were back on the streets with their own record label, LP number three 'Blackhearts & Jaded Spades', and a look not dissimilar to a Thai ladyboy.

Appearing at the end of 1985 'Blackhearts…' left many fans shaking their heads at the new Mötley-Crüe-meets-Van-Halen-in-Poundstretcher sound and image; bands must evolve, that's true, but it helps if they take their fanbase with them, which the 'Blade patently did not. 'Blackhearts…' is actually quite an interesting little album, though, and not deserving of all the raspberries that were blown its way. Things start well enough with 'Dirty Face Angel' and 'Make It Through The Night', and 'Undercover Honeymoon', the title cut and the reworking of 'Monkey's Blood' all get the thumbs-up. On the downside though, what could be a David Lee Roth endorsed 'Lovin' You Is A Hard Thing To Do', the drippy 'You Are The Heart', the metal-by-numbers 'Tough Guys Tumble' and the even-more drippy 'Dancing In Blue Moonlight' drag it into the mire. With their fans' record-buying cash staying firmly in their pockets, the band had another stab with the 'Undercover Honeymoon' EP, featuring two re-recordings from the album and two new tracks (unfortunately not included here) but this pretty much marked the end of the band. Vicki James Wright packed his bags for America, where he became one of the few people to have heard of the Vicki James Wright band before he threw in his lot with Johnny Crash, whose sole release at the time was 1990's 'Neighbourhood Threat'; an unreleased second album 'Unfinished Business' finally escaped in 2008.

After fulfilling their touring obligations with Persian Risk's Carl Sentence front and centre, Tokyo Blade split up. Guitarist John Wiggins joined Paul Di'Anno's Battlezone and the rhythm section of Andy Wrighton and Steve Pierce hooked up with Alan Marsh in Shogun, leaving founder member Andy Boulton wiping the No.7 off his face and wondering what to do next. The answer, it transpired, was 'Ain't Misbehavin'' by 'Andy Boulton's Tokyo Blade'. After a false start with a line-up that didn't release anything, the band's fourth full-length album was released in 1987 and propelled them even further down the glamster hamster path, and so even further from their patience-tested hardcore fans. I don't really like to quote from the liner notes as you can read it for yourself, but the extract from the Metal Forces review of the time – 'there's bits of Dokken, Ratt and Foreigner…and not one fucking decent song' – is rather unfair, because it doesn't sound like Ratt at all. Listening to 'Watch Your Step' you're forced to wonder if anyone is actually in time, 'Movie Star' (which borrows more than a beat or two from 'Jump') is one of the many songs that taps into the fluffy mid-Eighties AOR zeitgeist and the title track is just a joke filler, the sort of thing which David Lee Roth can pull off with ease. Shame he wasn't in the studio when they cut it. Bolton was by this time a bit of a guitar hero, in Wiltshire at least, and 'Hot For Love' and opener 'Heartbreaker' gave him chance to flex his plectrum, although there's little else to get excited about. The album died a death and the band split up, leaving Boulton scratching his head and wondering what to do next.

(click here to continue to part 2 covering 'No Remorse / Burning Down Paradise')

John Tucker

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