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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Blackjack (USA) - 1979 Blackjack
Blackjack (USA) - 1979 Blackjack

ARTIST: Blackjack (USA)
ALBUM: Blackjack
LABEL: Polydor
SERIAL: PD-1-6215
YEAR: 1979
REISSUE: 1990, Polydor, 843 335, 2 on 1 with 'Blackjack' * 1996, Polydor (Japan), POCP-2415 * 2006, Lemon Records, CDLEM84 (2 on 1 Anthology with 'Worlds Apart')


LINEUP: Michael Bolotin - vocals * Bruce Kulick - guitars * Jimmy Haslip - bass * Sandy Gennaro - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Love Me Tonight * 02 Heart Of Stone * 03 The Night Has Me Calling For You * 04 Southern Ballad * 05 Fallin' * 06 Without Your Love * 07 Countin' On You * 08 I'm Aware Of Your Love * 09 For You * 10 Heart Of Mine

One important stop on Michael Bolton's path to stardom was his two album tenure with Blackjack, a forerunner to Bolton's rise to AOR icon in the 80's. Bolton (real name Bolotin) before this project had recorded two bland soul albums, which betrayed his natural hard rock abilities. Haslip (along with the uncredited Jan Mullaney on keyboards) had been part of Carillo, while Bruce Kulick made his first major appearance, his brother Bob about to make similar waves with Balance of course. Opinions appear to be divided on Blackjack as a lasting AOR memoir, but to my ears the material is nothing less than superb. The direction Bolton was heading in is all too obvious, and this seemingly forgotten gem contains moments of classic intent. Bob Kulick had a hand in writing several tracks, and while the album obviously is rooted in the late seventies AOR mould, it still stands up impressively a now staggering twenty seven years down the road.

The Songs
One of Bob Kulick's contributions is the superb 'Love Me Tonight', that is full of interesting melody lines for the discerning AOR purist. Bolton unloads his mighty throat in knockout style on the AOR classic 'Heart Of Stone'. For the period this is truly essential, and comes off as a far more powerful Pablo Cruise. This should have earned must hear status, and alone should ensure a reissue for this album. Furthermore I'm convinced the DFK Band heard this one when recording 'You Cut So Deep'. 'Night Has Me Calling For You' is a hard rock gem with some stirring riffs mixed with softer ballad sections, again the passion of Bolton is apparent. 'Fallin' comes off as a little dated, in a positive way, as the melody lines resonate in suitably sweaty AOR fashion. A boogie feel permeats 'Without Your Love', reminiscent of Bolton's later 'You Don't Want Me Bad Enough' slightly during the verses. This harder rock edge continues on 'I'm Aware Of Your Love' before 'For You' rolls out the obligatory ballad rather lukewarmly. Without Bolton a track like 'Heart Of Mine' would be rather ordinary, but the grit he provides makes it listenable.

In Summary
Perhaps not perfect, but of a high enough quality that should qualify it as something worthy of being heard by those curious as to why Bolton is so highly regarded by AOR purists. I'd recommend this for 'Heart Of Stone' alone, that's how tremendous this track is by itself. Blackjack lasted for one more studio effort, 1980's 'World's Apart', which it seemed most of the band were, as they split soon after, Bolton as mentioned going on to become a superstar, while Kulick ended up in Kiss, but not before adding to Bolton's solo albums, along with Mullaney. Gennaro played alongside Pat Travers, and Craaft later in the decade. Blackjack if they had stayed the course would likely have conjured up more AOR miracles in the 80's, but eventually they weren't needed. Without them we might never have witnessed the magic that Bolton summoned up, so their purpose was indeed served.

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#1 | Eric on December 15 2007 04:28:30
I thought this album was just way too much Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band and derivative of the time. I bought the album back then soley because of it's die cut cover which I thought was cool and 'had to be good'. Young and dumb as they say, but I liked enough to buy the classic follow-up, which of course was far better...
#2 | steeler1979 on January 01 2008 01:48:23
Eric you are so right about the Bob Seger comparison. 'For You' for instance sounds like a dead ringer for 'Mainstreet' to me!
#3 | sabace on January 08 2008 17:43:31
not bad prototype michael bolton!
#4 | rostoned on June 28 2008 13:01:07
This was released on CD in the early 90s by Polydor US as a 2 on 1 with follow up 'Worlds Apart', then as a single releases in Japan. Both editions r way out of print; now on the market there's a cool 2 on 1 by Lemon from UK with sleeve notes by Malcolm Dome, memorabilia pictures and an interview w/ Bruce Kulick. Get it before it disappears!
At the link below instead u can watch an AMAZING promo clip from 1979 w/2 playback performances by the band and yes, the funny looking dude talking at the beginning is their senior VP of A&R at Polydor at the time, Fred Haayen from Netherlands:

YouTube Video:
#5 | gdazegod on March 30 2011 00:41:31
This is certainly one band that could do with a reissue/remaster job, and combine it with the superior second album 'Worlds Apart'. The Lemon 'Anthology' is still out, as was the original hard to find Polydor 'two-fer'. 'Worlds Apart' review in the pipeline.
#6 | swazi on March 30 2011 18:44:44
The 2006 version of the Lemon two-fer-one 'Anthology' is still available on Amazon and actually quite cheap as well!
#7 | rkbluez on January 16 2012 13:55:18
I like this album a lot it's some good solid classic rock by some great musicians...don't hear the big Seger connection...always loved the song 'Heart Of Stone'.

Would of liked to see this band stay together and make more albums...but I guess that wasn't in the cards.
#8 | gdazegod on May 18 2014 03:03:36
This, I just found out.. When Ozzy Osbourne left Black Sabbath, Michael Bolton auditioned to replace him. Like wow!
#9 | super80boy on May 25 2015 02:48:12
Late 70's melodic rock with Bolton pumping out his emotive vocals = good stuff.
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