black-n-blue-tommy-thayer-2

Geffen

Tommy Thayer is now most readily known as the current guitarist and vocalist for rock icons Kiss, however before his transition into the Spaceman persona Thayer was a pivotal member in the glam metal band Black ‘N Blue. The band found considerable commercial success following the release of their eponymous debut studio album, which spawned multiple rock radio hits featuring the solid guitar work and harmonizing backup vocals of Thayer.

Black ‘N Blue’s second effort ‘Without Love’ earned the group a position on the ‘Vision Quest’ soundtrack, and soon attracted the attention of Tommy Thayer’s future band member, Kiss’ Gene Simmons, who overlooked the band’s two subsequent studio albums while attributing subtle influences into the band’s songwriting (the basis of the title track from 1986’s ‘Nasty Nasty’ would later inspire the Simmons-led Kiss song “Domino”).

Glam metal as an entity was on a steep decline during the late 1980s, resulting in the demise in multiple artists represented within the genre; unfortunately, Black ‘N Blue was one of these same artists, who following a considerable drop on commercial popularity and stylistic conflicts disbanded in 1989. Following the breakup, Thayer would go on to occasionally co-write songs and work on different projects with Kiss, before ultimately becoming the group’s tour manager and then, as they say, the rest is Kisstory.

Black ‘N Blue have since reunited and continue to regularly tour and release new music without Thayer; while the guitarist has previously participated in a one-night reunion with his former band, his focus remains dedicated to his work with Kiss. Hold on, Miss Mystery: In light of the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of Black ‘N Blue’s debut album, we are running through the Top 10 Tommy Thayer Black ‘N Blue Songs.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10) Nasty Nasty

From ‘Nasty Nasty’ (1986)

Tommy Thayer’s menacing chord progression in the beginning of “Nasty Nasty” is the sound Black ‘N Blue followers were welcomed with upon setting the needle on the band’s 1986 studio album, and appropriately begins our countdown. The new addition of Gene Simmons not only as the group’s producer but also as a frequent songwriter attributes an apparent harder edge to the overall tone of the record, especially when compared to the more radio friendly approach of Black ‘N Blue’s previous effort, ‘Without Love.’

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

9) Chains Around Heaven

From ‘Black ‘N Blue’ (1984)

Bliss vocal harmonies overlay an impressive compilation of guitar techniques on “Chains Around Heaven.” Thayer had a foothold in each of these features within the Black ‘N Blue chemistry, however it’s the crunch of his rhythm guitar which establishes the groundwork for the song’s clashing melodic arrangements, making it one of the more memorable cuts from the band’s self-titled debut.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8) Without Love

From ‘Without Love’ (1985)

A moderate variation of their hard rock framework surfaced on Black ‘N Blue’s 1985 studio offering ‘Without Love.’ While the majority of the album is recognized amongst dedicated listeners as a more commercial offering opposed to Black ‘N Blue’s debut, the title track from ‘Without Love’ is decorated with impressionable bends and attention-grabbing lead licks which one could say were adopted from it’s predecessor and given a more appealing face lift.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7) Heat it Up! Burn it Out!

From ‘In Heat’ (1988)

The members of Black ‘N Blue were beginning to forge a compelling revitalization of their earlier efforts with their fourth studio album, ‘In Heat,’ perhaps as is demonstrated through the crashing of pick axes during the beginning of the guitar-bracketed “Heat it Up! Burn it Out!” A punishing war hammer guitar tone paves the way for a striking main riff, straying away only briefly to encounter an even darker bridge section and another impressive solo.

 

 
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6) Miss Mystery

From ‘Without Love’ (1985)

Once the name Black ‘N Blue had formed a familiar reputation within the rock community, the opportunities for the band were placed relatively high yet still within reasonable distance for it’s talented members. Their sophomore effort ultimately took on a more mainstream glam metal sound as opposed to their primarily hard rock-oriented debut, while retaining enough of the signature Black ‘N Blue chemistry to formulate a similar cohesiveness. “Miss Mystery” is a strong example of this same revitalized sound, which implemented delicate power chords and an energetic solo to reinforce what became a standout power ballad.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5) I Want it All (I Want it Now)

From ‘Nasty Nasty’ (1986)

Another highlight from the band’s third studio album is the rhythm guitar-focused “I Want it All (I Want it Now),” not to be confused with the song from Queen. The combination of Tommy Thayer and Gene Simmons became a frequent one throughout the effort (perhaps even more surprising was the appearance of Peter Criss during the closing number “Best in the West,” no doubt the reoccurring influence of Simmons), and this track is no exception. As compared to such aforementioned numbers as “Chains Around Heaven,” Thayer doesn’t chaotically lather the entire recording with pick grinding guitar work, instead saving his energy for the song’s momentous solo.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4) Autoblast

From ‘Black ‘N Blue’ (1984)

With the pedal to the metal, the members of Black N’ Blue take off with a cloud of exhaust and burning gasoline with the appropriately titled rambunctious road rage anthem, “Autoblast.” Paired alongside vintage sound clips of screeching rubber and the roaring of six cylinders, the monumental guitar work of Tommy Thayer launches the listener forward towards a concrete wall at freight train speed; You know damn good and well you’re going to crash, and yet you find yourself strangely enjoying every minute of the distortion-fueled ride.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3) School of Hard Knocks

From ‘Black ‘N Blue’ (1984)

With Black ‘N Blue, you didn’t need to fill out an application; anyone caught listening to their self-titled debut was immediately granted an all expenses-waived admission into the life-spanning semester of the “School of Hard Knocks.” At this wayward academic institution, Tommy Thayer served as the instructor who kept rock fans in line with six strings and a serious attitude, waving staggering chord progressions underneath the band’s towering vocal melodies.

 

  
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2) Rockin’ on Heaven’s Door

From ‘Without Love’ (1985)

An intriguing Patrick Young bass line escorts the attention of passerby towards the main attraction of Tommy Thayer’s tsunami guitar riffs on “Rockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” A relatable theme of rebellion attributes additional appeal towards the song’s head haunting melodic chants, before transitioning into an accelerating selection which Thayer makes all his own following a moderate tempo change. Once he’s out of the gate, it’s difficult to reel the guitarist back in: especially following such an impressive display of unchainable technique.

 

  

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

1) Hold on to 18

From ‘Black ‘N Blue’ (1984)

For those hard rock listeners who were first introduced to Black ‘N Blue following the release of their eponymous debut back in 1984 via the medium of mainstream radio (that is, whenever “Hot For Teacher” or “I’ll Wait” were taken down from their consistent rotation), chances are your first exposure to the band harboring the future Kiss guitarist was through the definitive favorite, “Hold on to 18.” Following the first handful of anticipation-gathering power chords, it became readily apparent towards anyone within a quarter-mile radius of your deafeningly loud stereo speakers that this was something unique. Tommy Thayer’s combustive guitar work and addition to the broad vocal harmonies played a significant role in the formation of this definitive single for the band, and appropriately tops our rundown of the Top 10 Tommy Thayer Black ‘N Blue Songs.