You are probably wondering why I’m doing a Black ‘N Blue album in the middle of a Kiss Review Series. What does this band have to do with Kiss? There are several reasons why, but first and foremost is who is a member of this band. Current Kiss guitarist, Tommy Thayer, is the guitarist in Black ‘N Blue. Since Tommy is still in the band, I can’t do his first release after his time in the band as that hasn’t happened yet. Instead, I decided to find an album of his work prior to his time in Kiss and I picked an album with some major Kiss connections. The album is actually the band’s third studio album and this one was produced by Kiss member, Gene Simmons. This is where the relationship between Gene and Tommy blossomed as they had met previously in 1985 when they opened for Kiss. It would lead to Tommy’s eventual membership in Kiss.
If you’ve paid attention to the last few Kiss reviews, you will notice I mentioned that Gene wasn’t always completely committed to Kiss during this time of Kiss and this was one reason why. He was busy finding new bands and producing other albums. Gene came across the band and really liked their sound, he was brought on as the producer of this album as well as the follow-up and took the band back to a more raw sound. The album, ‘Nasty Nasty’, came out in August of 1986.
The band consisted of the following members:
- Tommy Thayer – lead guitar
- Jaime St. James – lead singer
- Jeff Warner – rhythm guitar
- Patrick Young – bass
- Pete Holmes – drums
It was a pretty solid line-up, but the album didn’t do all that great. The album didn’t have the punch of the music coming out during that time and come 1987, the music scene had grown by leaps and bounds over this style with bands like Def Leppard, Whitesnake and Guns ‘N Roses all delivering multi-platinum albums and reigning supreme. Black ‘N Blue didn’t make much of a dent and a band that faded away (at least in my world).
Gene helped write some tracks and even brought in a couple friends to sing back-up on a song which we will get to soon. Gene also took advantage of the band and used them on a lot of demos, some of which ended up on ‘The Vault”. Now, as an album, this one is not that memorable, but for Kisstory, it is pretty important because without that relationship with Gene, Tommy might not be in the band today. Hell, way before Tommy was the Spaceman, he was working with Kiss behind the scenes for years helping with the Conventions and any project the band needed. Tommy was like the historian of Kiss in a way. Since this is where it all started, I figured this would be a great album to showcase Tommy Thayer.
The album kicks off with the title track, “Nasty Nasty” and if you are a real Kiss fan you will notice something interesting with that first guitar lick. It is the same riff, and I mean the same riff used in “Domino” off the ‘Revenge’ album for Kiss in 1992. And that isn’t all, the riffs towards the end of the song are used in another Kiss song called “Only You” that was on ‘Music from the Elder’ back in 1981. Gene was a co-writer on the song and he loved to make songs the Frankenstein way by piecing together pieces from other songs and this is a perfect example. I guess I should talk about this song. It is a rocker and a blistering opening track. It is pure 80’s cheese lyrically and has nothing new and exciting, but it is still a great opening track.
The next track “I Want It All (I Want It Now)” opens with a big drum sound and some heavy bass. The song keeps up the energy and rocks out throughout. It is another decent track, but doesn’t set the world on fire. This is also co-written with Gene and it shows.
“Does She or Doesn’t She” is the final song co-written with Gene and this one might be the best song on the album. It is the most memorable of the bunch and there is a really cool Thayer guitar riff along with a chorus that is catchy. If they would’ve had more songs like this or even released this one as a single, maybe the could’ve done more. At the same time, this song seems so familiar and I can’t put my finger on it.
The final track on Side 1 is “Kiss of Death” and this one is a scorcher. It is the second best song on the album hands down. Tommy’s playing is amazing on this one and some of his best on the whole album. He gets an extra long solo and really showcases his talent and I see why Gene kept him in the back of his mind all these years as he knew it would come in handy down the road. Now, the end of the song has a riff that I think Kiss used down the road on ‘Revenge’ for the song “Heart of Chrome”. I swear it sounds the same, but it would be strange as that was a Paul and Vinnie song, not a Gene. Who knows, but that is what I think of when I hear it.
Side 2 opens with “12 O’Clock High”. Jamie start it off with just his vocals and it is a little rough and then the song really kicks in to gear. Another heavy, rocking track and another one that has more meat on the bone than the rest. It gets the blood flowing, Tommy’s fingers fly up and down that guitar and it shows the band could’ve been a bigger and maybe should’ve been, but for some reason never broke in to the upper echelon of bands.
Then we get in to “Do What You Wanna Do” and it is bat shit crazy time. The speed and frantic pace of the song is exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. I love how the tone it down a little and have Tommy shredding and mix it with a little softer Jaime verse and then Jaime scats up against Tommy’s playing and it works.
The main single on the album, “I’ll Be There For Your” was actually written and produced by Jonathan Cain of Journey and not Gene. It has a lot of keyboards, so no surprise there. It is a cheesy, 80’s ballad and is quite different than everything else on the album. It doesn’t mean it is bad, it just doesn’t fit with the sound and tone of the rest of the album. This was probably the song expected to make them Bon Jovi, but I’m afraid it didn’t.
Next up is “Rules” and after a dozen listens, I still don’t know this song and I have said that before about other songs. You hear them, but they aren’t good enough to even remember and this is one of those songs. The song starts off promising, but fades in to obscurity, and I think it is Jamie’s performance as it isn’t up to par with the rest. Next…
The final song on the album is “Best in the West” and this one has Gene bringing in some old friends to sing back up. That would be Ron Keel of the band Keel and then a long lost Kiss member, Peter Criss. Even with their help, there is no saving this track. It is plain awful. I think Gene was hoping for a big stadium anthem and he didn’t get that at all. Lyrically, the fake crowd noise, the chorus, Jamie’s singing, it is everything. This is closer killed me wanting to hit repeat and you never want the last song to do that.
- Nasty Nasty – Keeper
- I Want It All (I Want It Now) – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Does She or Doesn’t She – Keeper
- Kiss of Death – Keeper
- 12 O’Clock High – Keeper
- Do What You Wanna Do – Keeper
- I’ll Be There For You – Keeper – (1/2 Point)
- Rules – Delete
- Best in the West – Delete
The Track Score is 6 out of 9 or 67%. Not terrible, but that isn’t the worst part. There are some really good songs on it, but overall it still isn’t a great album. It is a decent album. I see why they didn’t blow the MTV world or make it to the next level. It wasn’t all their fault, you can throw some shade at the producer as well. Gene wasn’t able to reign them in and help craft the songs in to being what they needed to be. They weren’t far off in some cases, but far enough that it didn’t work. Overall Score is a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars which is slightly above a passing grade. I think the album might’ve done better with different singles as you noticed the two singles above got (1/2 Point) deductions. What can you do.
We have one more former Kiss member to tackle before we get back on to the Kiss Train and I think everyone will be excited about the next one.
Next Up: Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
- Kiss – Alive! (1975)
- Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
- Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
- Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
- Kiss – The Originals (1976)
- Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
- Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
- Kiss – Alive II (1977)
- Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
- Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
- Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
- Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
- Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
- Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
- Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
- Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
- Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
- Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
- Kiss – Killers (1982)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
- Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
- Kiss – Animalize (1984)
- Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
- Kiss – Asylum (1985)
- Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
- Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
- Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
- Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
- Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
- Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict
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