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St. James American Man

By Frank Meyer, Contributing Editor
Thursday, August 8, 2002 @ 5:32 PM


(Melodic Mayhem)

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Ever wondered what happened to former Hollywood via Portland metalhead Jamie St. James, frontman of ‘80s glamsters Black ‘N Blue? You know, the guy who sang the minor hits “Hold Onto 18” and “Miss Mystery,” had Dee Snider-like blond curls and some REALLY hideous spandex outfits? Well, after taking some time off from the tinsel town rebellion after the demise of Black N’ Blue (and after his brief stint in L.A.’s Freight Train Jane) Jamie has remerged with his self-titled band St. James to continue his quest for rock n’ roll world dominance.

The good news for old school fans is that St. James’ debut album American Man is more of the same style of melodic hard rock fluff that Black ‘N Blue specialized in and ol’ Jamie’s pipes are still in top form. The bad news is that is that this is 2002 and if this stuff didn’t sell in the ‘80s than it’s got about a snowball’s chance in hell of breaking through this time around. But that’s no reason to throw in the towel, right? Like Joe Perry said, “Once a rock, always a rocker.”

With it’s chunky riff, swirling organ, and anthem chorus, the opening salvo, “Testify,” sets the tone for much of this effort, sounding like a Bon Jovi outtake from one of the first coupla albums. “Deaf, Dumb, and Blind” is the kind of pop metal tune that Jamie used to specialize in, melodic chorus backed by some choice power chord riffing and a Cheap Trick-y style riff. “Spinin’” and “Light Of Love” are both straight ahead poppy hard rock tunes that will please most seekers of that ‘80s sound. “Aliens” also recalls the days of yesteryear and has a cool, catchy riff that is only marred by the cheesy “We’re all aliens” chorus line. “Hello Halo” steals the “Feels Like Makin’ Love” riff right from under Bad Company’s nose and doesn’t do much to elevate above just being a sub-par rip off. “Generation Suicide” sounds like an update of Black ‘N Blue’s remake of Sweet’s “Action.” All solid efforts, though none of them revolutionary.

Meanwhile, “Magical Taxi Cab” features some cool, trippy ‘60s flange but also contains the silliest lyrics on the album, “I wanna take a ride in the magical taxi cab.” Geez. On a brighter note, “Losing Your Man” sounds like it sound be right off of BNB’s Without Love and is one of the strongest tunes here. “Die Like A Star” mixes punk sneer with some groovin’ boogie woogie piano, while the title track has a ‘70s AOR feel, kinda like a ballsier Tom Petty. In fact this song sounds frighteningly like “American Girl”!!! Coincidence? I think not!

In fact, the whole pro-American vibe on the album and packaging is a little tired at this point, isn’t it? Hey, I’m all for America too but isn’t this post-9/11 flag-waving patriotism is getting a wee bit old? Don’tcha think? The cover art features a close-up of Jamie’s face (not necessarily a good move unto itself) with some dark shades and red, white and blue flag images plastered across it. The liner notes have a stars and stripes motif goin’ on and then there’s the title and accompanying title track... Um, didn’t MC Hammer release a similarly themed comeback album earlier this year with all this pro-America shit too? Look, no offense to the good ol’ US of A, but being American just mean this is where your parents fucked, right? Why not change the flag to the images of two crusty old folks fuckin’ and cut right to the chase?

But I digress….

* * ½


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