Tokyo Blade

Blackhearts and Jaded Spades

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1984's Night of the Blade had kept at least one steel-toed boot in the uncompromising sounds of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but 1985's Blackhearts and Jaded Spades confirmed Tokyo Blade's unconditional embracing of American glam metal values -- or lack thereof -- to the detriment of their once promising career. Tellingly named cock rock jazzercises like "Dirty Faced Angels," "Make It Through the Night," and "Tough Guys Tumble" doused the last remaining crumbs of Tokyo Blade's biting guitar tone (and credibility) under a peroxide bath of bubbly synths, fey, out-of-tune vocals, and "lyrics" smacking of rank stupidity. I mean, what the f**k does "Undercover Honeymoon" mean, anyway? And that was one of the album's better songs, from a musical standpoint, because guitarists Andy Boulton and John Wiggins almost succeeded in their life-long ambition to rip off Edward Van Halen, for once. Whereas on the simply ghastly "Lovin' You Is an Easy Thing to Do" they proved (as if proof were needed) that rain-drenched Brits were simply not cut out to pen sunny, finger-snapping California novelty songs (had they paid closer attention, they would have realized that VH's "Ice Cream Man" and David Lee Roth's "Just a Gigolo" were covers). And if all this hadn't been painful enough, weepy ballads like "You Are the Heart" and "Dancing in Blue Moonlight" sounded, forgive the expression, "totally gay" -- even to the pop-metal wenches of the era, and that's saying a lot. OK, so the title track slammed the hammer down with what little authority remained from the band's glory days, and the worrisomely named "Playroom of Poison Dreams" actually locked into a cool, mid-paced march without embarrassing itself further, but neither one represented anything more than a Band-aid attempting to staunch the blood from a decapitation! On the upside, Tokyo Blade soon got the chance to perform a few shows in America supporting black metal pioneers Venom, but they subsequently disintegrated before embarking on a follow-up jaunt opening for Blue Öyster Cult in Europe, marking the beginning of a confusing series of breakups and makeups in years to come.

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