Black N Blue started off like every band, with some high school friends getting together to write and play. In this case, it was vocalist Jamie St, James and guitarist Tommy Thayer.
Brian Slagel then came across their song “Chains Around Heaven” and added it to his Metal Massacre Vol 1 album in 1982, the same album that had songs from Metallica, Ratt and Malice on it. That same year they also moved from Portland to LA and started doing the Sunset Strip scene, which led to a recording contract with Geffen in 1983 and their debut came out in 1984.
“Miss Mystery” is a forgotten track from their second album, “Without Love”, released in 1985, and man this album had some secret herbs and spices in the production.
The song is written by Jamie St. James, Tommy Thayer and Jim Vallance. The same Jim Vallance who had a great song writing partnership with Bryan Adams and the same Jim Vallance who co-wrote the Gene Simmons signature song for the 80’s, “War Machine”.
Producing the album is Bruce Fairbairn, engineering is by Bob Rock, with support from Mike Fraser, before they all became household names with “Slippery When Wet”.
Speak to any listener of music under the ages of 30 and they would not even know who Bruce Fairbairn is, let alone Mutt Lange. They are almost completely forgotten. It’s a crime.
And “Miss Mystery” is a pop rock gem, building on the sounds that Def Leppard brought to the masses a few years before. As fans of this music, we can move on, hear different songs and artists, but we still return to this sound.
If you call it up on YouTube, watch the video clip and see why bands could never recoup. That clip would have been charged back to the band in the hundreds of thousands and its nothing special.
They toured with Kiss on this album and this got Gene Simmons interested in the band, who would go on to produce their next two albums and co-write with the band, as well as take some of the riffs from their songs and write a song called “Domino” which is then solely credited to Simmons. And then Thayer also joined Kiss in 2002. Actually Tommy Thayer has been a member of Kiss longer than Ace Frehley but Ace has appeared on more albums (well depending on which books you read, maybe not).
Somehow, Black N Blue, still didn’t break through like the other acts even though they had a major label deal with Geffen and a production team from Canada on their second album.
Maybe the involvement of Gene Simmons as a co-writer for albums three and four, wasn’t the best decision for the band, as Simmons didn’t really set the charts alight with his songs around this period and as Paul Stanley said in his book, Gene went missing from Kiss around 1984 to 1987. They should have kept him just as producer.