St. James - Americanman
Metal Mayhem Music
Hard Rock
11 songs (38'49)
Release year: 2002
Metal Mayhem Music
Reviewed by Mike

As a big fan of Black ‘n Blue, I was eager to hear this new solo effort from ex-Black ‘n Blue vocalist Jamie St. James. The first two BnB albums (self titled and Without Love) are very good 80’s hard rock albums, and very much sought after as they have been out of print for years. Check ebay to see for yourself how much these first two BnB albums sell for, and you will know what I mean when I say “highly sought after!” The band released a total of four albums during the 80’s (the first two were clearly their best!) before abruptly calling it quits. So, does this new offering from Jamie St. James compare to his work with Black ‘n Blue? I’ll put it this way, if I heard this CD without being given the name of the band/artist involved, I would never had connected it to Black ‘n Blue, much less Jamie St. James.

From the first note, I quickly realize that Jamie St. James is singing in a much lower voice, maybe an octave or so lower than his BnB days. That was a bit of surprise since I hadn’t heard the guy sing since the last BnB album which was released well over ten years ago. The lower vocal range is not really a bad thing since he did sing in a high range back in the day. If you’ve heard the Without Love album of Black ‘n Blue, you’ll notice the slight use of organs which gave some of the songs on that album a different atmosphere. The organ and piano were used on that album sort of like a seasoning to compliment food – it worked very well. On this album, the organ is used on every song, to the point of over saturation at times – like dumping half a bottle of salad dressing on your salad. Hello Halo and Light of Love in particular are two songs that I would consider over saturated in organs.

As for the songs themselves, we have a bit of a mixed bag. There are some strong catchy hard rock songs, reminiscent of Black ‘n Blue. There are some punk rock influenced songs, which is a style I don’t much care for at all. Like I said, the organ use is present throughout the entire album, which for me should have been toned down a bit. Generation Suicide very much a punk rock influenced song as is Die Like a Star. Magical Taxicab is a catchy party rock song as is the leadoff track, Testify. The title track Americanman is one song that most reminds me of BnB style songwriting, particularly Without Love era BnB – although not nearly as good as that album. Within this track, you’ll find harmony vocals, which for the most part are absent on this album. That may because the backing vocals are a bit out of key! As far as the guitar work – there are some very well done (but too short) solos, not enough solos overall in my opinion. The riffs are not bad, but certainly not memorable and likely won’t inspire any headbanging or air guitar while listening to them. Another point worth mentioning is the fact that this is an extremely raw sounding album. Jamie St. James did a good job producing the album himself, although it is evidident he was on a tight budget. Well, he did the best with what he had and has created a very raw sounding hard rock album.

Do not hit the play button expecting to hear a continuation of Black ‘n Blue. This album covers a lot of territory from some very energetic hard rock and a bit of party rock, to the more punk rock inspired tunes, with extensive organ use throughout. Also, be prepared for a lower range Jamie St. James vocal delivery. That is not so bad, but the occasional punk rock leanings I could do without. In recent years, hard rock and metal fans have been treated to some phenomenal production efforts. Not so here. The production is not bad per se, but it has a very raw feel to it. This is a very respectable hard rock offering, but the “try before buy” rule applies as I feel some fans will enjoy the variety, atmosphere, and rawness, while others may be turned off for exactly the same reasons.

Killing Songs :
Testify, Deaf Dumb & Blind, Magical Taxicab
Mike quoted 64 / 100
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