Black 'N Blue were never a huge name in '80s hair metal; they never achieved the level of stardom that Poison, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Warrant, or Bon Jovi achieved in their day. But the Los Angeles-based outfit (originally from Portland, OR) did have their hardcore followers, and those diehards are the obvious target of Rarities. This 43-minute CD is accurately titled because it is, in fact, a collection of rarities. Much of the disc is devoted to demos from 1982-1986, and diehard Black 'N Blue fans will enjoy hearing what "Wicked Bitch" and "Hold on to 18" sounded like before they were professionally produced and found their way to the band's self-titled debut album for Geffen in 1984. The sound quality of the demos, of course, doesn't measure up to the sound quality of Black 'N Blue's official Geffen recordings, but it's listenable. Other highlights of Rarities include live performances of "Autoblast" and "I'm the King" (two other songs that appeared on Black 'N Blue's first album) at a 1984 show and three songs that former Black 'N Blue frontman Jaime St. James recorded in 2002: "Hell Yeah," "So Long," and "Serious Drag," none of which are a big stylistic departure from the type of hard rock and pop-metal that St. James embraced back in the '80s. Rarities is not recommended to those who have only a casual interest in Black 'N Blue; anyone who fits that description would do well to pass on Rarities and look for a best-of instead. Rarities is strictly for Black 'N Blue's most hardcore fans.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson