Maybe it's not ironic. It is however marginally interesting that "Hell Yeah!" sports more KISS-isms than much of what BLACK N BLUE released during the '80s, and original BNB member and KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer didn't even participate in its creation. Or maybe it's just happenstance that songs like "Monkey", "Target", and "Hail Hail" have that KISS anthem quality. Then again, they've also got a little SKID ROW and SLAUGHTER going on. So perhaps it is simply a realization that those common musical threads become much more apparent with the passage of time. More importantly, those three tunes are pretty rockin', pretty catchy, and pretty fun, attributes that are more often than not present on "Hell Yeah!"
BLACK 'N BLUE produced some of the better hair/glam metal of the '80s with songs like "Hold On to 18", "Chains Around Heaven", "Rockin' on Heaven's Door", "Nature of the Beach" and pretty much anything else from 1984's self-titled debut and 1985's "Without Love". Some of the "Nasty Nasty" material wasn't too shabby either. While couple of decades later "Hell Yeah!" is surprisingly well connected to those early efforts in terms of spirit and songwriting, a good deal of it sounds as much like an amalgam of 80s acts as much as it does BLACK 'N BLUE, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just like it's not an issue that the vocals of Jaime St. James, as well as the song structure, on "Fools Bleed" are vaguely reminiscent of DEF LEPPARD. It may also be coincidental that "Candy" could have been on a 1980s album by WARRANT, a band in which vocalist St. James did time years later, but it's probably not. If the lyrics to that particular tune weren't so embarrassingly juvenile, busting out the air guitar wouldn't seem like such a bad idea. I mean come on: "Oh baby, you're so handy, I tear you up and give you candy". Or "She's got style, she's got grace, she's got candy all over her face". I know, lighten up; but still…
Hey, it's not RUSH that we're discussing, so that misstep could almost be forgiven. The aging gents make up for it on a sleazy, hard driving title track, complete with the obvious riff-lift from AC/DC's "Bad Boy Boogie". Really? Nobody noticed that during the recording? Though the poppier stuff ("So Long", "World Goes Round", and "Falling Down") doesn't fare as well, we're not talking about epic fails either. The goof-off that is "Jamie's Got the Beer" toward the middle of the album was a dumb move and stops momentum dead in its tracks. An acoustic interlude called "Trippin'" and closing cut "A Tribute to Hawking" (don't ask) are time wasters. Clear out the clutter and the album as whole improves.
For the most part "Hell Yeah!" is a pleasant surprise and a good time. Much of the album will put a smile on the faces of those that came of age during '80s and a new generation that are able to look past the mountains of aerosol cans and — wait for it — appreciating the "oldies". The birth of a new classic this is not, but most will find that BLACK 'N BLUE has exceeded expectations and moved on past mediocre.