1990, Polydor, 843 335, 2 on 1 with 'Blackjack' * 1996, Polydor (Japan), POCP-2416 * 2006, Lemon Records, CDLEM84 (2 on 1 Anthology with 'Worlds Apart')COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LINEUP:
Michael Bolotin - vocals * Bruce Kulick - guitars * Jimmy Haslip - bass * Sandy Gennaro - drumsTRACK LISTING:
01 My World Is Empty Without You * 02 Love Is Hard To Find * 03 Stay * 04 Airwaves * 05 Maybe It's The Power Of Love * 06 Welcome To The World * 07 Breakaway * 08 Really Wanna Know * 09 Sooner Or Later * 10 She Wants You Back
Having previously been covered by their debut album reviewed earlier by Alun, 'Worlds Apart' completes the picture for this late 70's of this excellent N.Y AOR outfit. Of course, it's easy to say this was a vehicle for the great Michael Bolton, but the same can be said for future Kiss
guitarist Bruce Kulick too, who used Blackjack as a springboard in much the same way Bolton did for his Columbia/CBS career two years later. Wind the clock back to 1980 and this LP probably whizzed past every discerning melodic rock fan, and before we knew it, Blackjack were over and out and cluttering up the bargain bins all over the world. It wasn't till years later, after Bolton's successful solo career, Kulick's run with Kiss
and oddly enough and perhaps even Haslip's stint with jazz exponents The Yellowjackets
did Blackjack come back into vogue, though really only AOR trainspotters would've taken any notice. Produced by Eddy Offord who had a strong hand working with British prog outfits of the day, this is a long-lost AOR selection that deserves another look thirty odd years after its release.
I'm liking what I'm hearing with the opening couple of tracks. 'My World Is Empty Without You' opens with Touch
like keyboards and surges upward into a symphonic rocker of suitable repute. Even better is second-up effort 'Love Is Hard To Find', a mid-paced stomping rocker which is catchy indeed. Ballad time in the form of 'Stay' disappoints, perhaps if it appeared fifteen years later on one of his MOR albums it would've been better suited. Whirlygig keyboards introduce 'Aiwaves', which sees Blackjack back on track, a great bridge and a chorus from the Balance
songbook. 'Maybe It's The Power Of Love' drops the tempo to a slower pace. Not quite ballad, but very melodic with a killer chorus which sees Bolotin ramp up the vocal power. 'Welcome To The World' is preceded by an audio clip of a baby being born, an obvious reference to the song title. While all this is going on, Blackjack kick into high gear for some suitable rollicking rock n roll. 'Breakaway' is a denser sounding AOR track, with twinkly keys and rough-edged guitars, ideal for the 1980 environment. Not quite up to Journey
class but I'll take it. 'Really Wanna Know' is perhaps the pick of the album. A bright sounding tune, and full of feelgood harmonies. 'Sooner Or Later' moves in a Shooting Star
styled direction, all it needed was some violin to fill in the gaps. Topping off the album, 'She Wants You Back' features some 70's pop-like features, a likeable track nonetheless, and not too far behind in the best-song on the album award.
Polydor didn't appear to have interest in Blackjack beyond this set, probably more to do with poor album sales than reputations. This has seen several reissues, but I'm guessing (apart from the Lemon Records reissue from a few years back), the others are extremely hard to find. I'm glad to have given this record a refresher, and to remind myself that there are a few good songs to be found here, 'Really Wanna Know', 'Love Is Hard To Find' and 'She Wants You Back' in particular. No need to add anymore about the personnel movements of the members after Blackjack split up. I think most who read this will know who went where..
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