From the opening Van Halen-styled guitar of curtain raiser Someone To Love, you knew something was wrong…

That was how you felt if you were a young headbanger growing up in small town Wales in 1984 when Tokyo Blade‘s second album, Night of the Blade, stuck it’s head above the parapet. See, the band’s first, self-titled album, released a year earlier, was the best Iron Maiden album never written by Steve Harris and his band of merry men, and the ‘Blade stood as ‘our’ band now that Maiden had already graduated to US enormodomes and double live albums… to say we were disappointed by Night of the Blade’s blatant Americanisms and ‘glam rock’ vocalist Vicki James Wright and his attendant spandex and boxing boot fetish was an understatement.

Of course, on the quiet I was already listening to the likes of Journey and, gulp, Giuffria, so it wasn’t the Americanisation that worried me. But tracks like Love Struck with it’s simple drums and strutting bass just wasn’t what I wanted from a band that had only five minutes ago given me the pure NWoBHM headrushes of Sunrise In Tokyo and If Heaven Is Hell

Looking back now, of course, all that is nonsense. Who were we to look down on honest musicians trying to make a crust? TB mainman/guitarist Andy Boulton and company had correctly identified that, of the bands of their ilk currently doing well, it was the ones who looked and sounded more like Def Leppard that were doing well. Nobody was beatin’ down Witchfynde‘s door with big fat recording contracts, that’s for sure…

So, here we are in 2021 and High Roller Records have re-released NotB in it’s original eight track state, shorn of any EP’s or other bells and whistles. And ya know what? It’s a big-bollocked stonker of a Brit metal album. For a start it’s production knocks the debut into a conveniently-placed cocked hat, adding big backing vocals and a sheen to Wright’s voice that previous vocalist Alan Marsh must have looked at with envy when he heard the record. And sure, the writing is more succinct, more glossy even – but it’s bloody good. When you listen to the proto-hair metal dynamics of Lightning Strikes (Straight Through The Heart) now you can see that the band were on to something; indeed, had someone like Americans Icon or Great White released the song at the time then Kerrang! would have been salivating all over it. Such was the unfairness of the rock and metal scene in Britain in the eighties.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tokyo Blade the debut is still the place to start, but if you were a sceptic like me ‘back in the day’ and haven’t revisited this record since release I strongly advise you get this into your ears as soon as is humanly possible given current conditions – you really won’t regret it!

Night of the Blade
releases on April 16th.