Blackhawk - 1994 Blackhawk

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ARTIST: Blackhawk
ALBUM: Blackhawk
LABEL: Arista
SERIAL: 07822-18708-2
YEAR: 1994

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Henry Paul - vocals, mandolin * Van Stephenson - vocals, guitar * Dave Robbins - vocals, keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 Goodbye Says It All * 02 Down In Flames * 03 Every Once A While * 04 I Sure Can Smell The Rain * 05 Thats Just About Right * 06 One More Heartache * 07 Love Like This * 08 Between Ragged And Wrong * 09 Stone By Stone * 10 Let 'Em Whirl

Background

A country album on a rock site? Well, with two-thirds of this trio being well-known names in the rock world, I feel comfortable giving this group some words on GDM.

Blackhawk was formed in 1992 when Henry Paul (The Outlaws), Van Stephenson (two well-regarded albums in the 80s) and Dave Robbins joined forces.

Stephenson and Robbins had some experience in the country genre, writing some hits for Restless Heart. You have to remember that rock as we knew it in the U.S. had taken a real nosedive as the early 90s moved towards the mid 90s, and lots of artists and fans had 'gone country'.

Country was starting to fill the void left by the decline of AOR. While quite a bit of country was still pretty 'twangy', a fair amount of it was a light country-rock mix, similar to what artists like The Eagles had perfected over a decade before.

Blackhawk was able to straddle the country and rock line quite well, and their debut album was a huge seller and hit-maker for the band.

The Songs

While the band itself was considered a trio, lead vocals were handled exclusively by Paul on this album.

I was surprised that Stephenson didn't sing lead on any of these songs, but he and Robbins definitely contributed to the tight harmonies that epitomized their sound.

Aside from Paul on mandolin and Robbins on keyboards, most instruments were handled by Nashville session cats.

The tight harmonies are evident right off the bat with 'Goodbye Says It All', the first single that served as an introduction to the band.

'Down In Flames' is one that could have been an excellent AOR song with some changes in arrangement and instrumentation.

'Every Once In A While' again features those nice harmony vocals.

'I Sure Can Smell The Rain' is the ballad, and it's a good one.

'That's Just About Right' is another nice mid-tempo tune that is closer to light rock than country. Those first five songs were all major hits on the country chart, with 'Goodbye Says It All' peaking at 11 and the others going top ten, 'Every Once In A While' making it to number 2.

The next five songs are hardly a large drop-off. 'One More Heartache' is a similar mid-tempo song full of melody.

'Love Like This' has definite rock sensibilities in a lighter package.

I believe 'Between Ragged And Wrong' could have stood with the first five as a solid hit. It has a bit more of a true country sound and lyrics.

'Stone By Stone' is the most country-sounding song here, but not so much so to drive you crazy.

The album ends with the pleasant and mellow 'Let 'Em Whirl'.

In Summary

Albums like this helped me survive the lack of meaningful new rock during the 90s. I enjoyed the lighter country-rock sound before this time, but I felt like I had to seek it out a lot more in order to find new music that appealed to me.

And this trio and album appealed to a lot more than just me, as it moved over two million copies in the U.S. and spawned five huge hit singles.

Henry Paul and Van Stephenson didn't sound too much like they did a decade or more before, but they proved that they could make the transition to a different style of music and find success doing so.


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