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Tokyo Blade

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Album Review

Had they not been undone by behind-the-scenes business bunglings of the tallest order, Tokyo Blade might have joined Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, and Saxon at the top of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal heap, instead of barely sniffing at their heels. The Wilshire-based quintet certainly possessed the raw talent and the actual musical chops; their self-titled debut from 1983 was much better produced than most independent NWOBHM albums, and even their rising sun-themed iconography was particularly well conceived and portrayed to striking effect on said album's cover (not to mention their trousers!). As for the songs, take highlights like "If Heaven Is Hell," "Killer City," and "Sunrise in Tokyo," for example, which recall the general songwriting style of early Maiden and golden era Saxon, only tighter than either of those bands' first albums, if you can believe that, and possibly more accessible on first listen, too. They may not have been quite as radio-ready as Leppard's chart-topping fare, but had they benefited from proper marketing and promotion, melodically attuned cuts with simplified messages like "Liar" and "Tonight" would have surely gone somewhere with a bullet. Admittedly, others still, such as "Break the Chains" and "On Through the Night," lacked the same level of focus, while exposing Alan Marsh's vocal limitations, but then Tokyo Blade's power supply mostly emanated from the tremendous guitar work of Andy Boulton and John Wiggins anyway (both of them already experienced players before founding the group). Pound for pound, though, Tokyo Blade's first effort easily ranked with the best post-NWOBHM debuts of 1983, its only real head-scratcher being the band's inexplicable a cappella coda of "Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia," which one can only assume was a response to Van Halen's similarly tongue-in-cheek "Happy Trails" parting shot from 1982's Diver Down. To be clear, this album alone would have never taken Tokyo Blade to the top, but the potential was definitely there, if only they'd been given the proper guidance for developing it instead of throwing it all away soon after.


Formed: 1983

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

'80s heavy metallists Tokyo Blade went through numerous lineup changes during their career, but their only constant throughout it all was founding member Andy Boulton (guitar). First going by such names as White Diamond, Killer, and Genghis Khan, the group eventually settled on Tokyo Blade, and premiered in the early '80s. Tokyo Blade issued their debut recording in 1984 (which was self-titled in the United Kingdom, and titled Midnight Rendezvous everywhere else), featuring the lineup of Alan Marsh...
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