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Blackhorse - 1979 Blackhorse

ARTIST: Blackhorse
ALBUM: Blackhorse
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1993, Limited Records (Italy), LMTRCD07


LINEUP: Gary James - guitars, vocals * Paul Middleton - bass, vocals * Jonathan Teague - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Fox Hunting * 02 Lucille * 03 Velvet Angel * 04 The Party's Started * 05 Momma Gonna Love You * 06 Cannot Find My Way Home * 07 Hell Hotel * 08 You've Got The Way * 09 Slow Down Tom * 10 Dave's Song * 11 Spencers Corner


Blackhorse were a great Texan three-piece band, who operated out of the Fort Worth/Dallas area during the seventies. The band, formed in the early seventies were in the same territory as ZZ Top and Point Blank, playing near flawless 'Texan boogie', plus being there or thereabouts through the decade while those two other outfits were recording and touring relentlessly. Gary James had a formidable reputation, and his tough playing and exterior paved the way for many other bands to follow in his footsteps. It is easy to see where other Southern bands might have picked up a thing or two from watching Blackhorse perform live around many locations throughout the South during that timeframe. Though we are reflecting on this album years later, its significance sees it mentioned in celebrity rock critic Martin Popoff's list of the '100 Heaviest Albums of the Seventies', reaching No 75 on a list that contains Motorhead, AC/DC and Van Halen no less! Musically, Blackhorse are stretching the bounds of their Texan pedigree. The guitarwork of James beefed up to a point that comparisons can be made to Molly Hatchet, Doc Holliday and that one-off effort from Freddie Salem and The Wildcats. Listening to this, it easily displaces the likes of Creed and Ramjam off my fave seventies list. Blackhorse go straight to the top of the class!

The Songs
We're so taken with this album, we think you deserve to know about every song:

The foxhounds are out and howling on the fabuloso opener 'Fox Hunting'. The growling vocals and snarling guitars all in keeping with the thrill of the chase!

'Lucille' is a ripsnorting cover of that well-known track from Little Richard.

Retro rock never sounded so good as on a track like 'Velvet Angel'. If all those Swedish rockers like Lotus and Locomotive Breath needed any inspiration, this is probably it.

Blackhorse take a tighter approach with 'The Party's Started', sounding more like a traditional power-trio with less inclination toward southern styles.

The band put the fun back into precedings with 'Momma Gonna Love You Tonight', a lively workout, which is exactly what Momma is gonna get, according to the song title and lyrics

'Cannot Find My Way Home' starts out as if we have an epic (a la 'Freebird') on our hands. The acoustic intro giving us hope that a Hatchet or Blackfoot styled guitar extravaganza is just around the corner. It doesn't quite work out that way, the chorus instead taking an unusual melodic/AOR direction. Still a good tune!

'Hell Hotel' has all the spooky sound effects as a prelude, it is only a temporary distraction as it leads us onto more smoky Texan hard rockin' boogie.

'You've Got The Way' is probably their best known track, and quite simply, this is prime-time Molly Hatchet circa their first two albums from 1978-79. If any of you remember their cover of the Stones classic 'Its All Over Now' from 'Flirtin' With Disaster', then this track is very similar.

'Slow Down Tom' is a quite a heavy track, with a dirty riff that the boys from Mountain would recall. The vocal effort from James is Danny Joe Brown and Freddie Salem rolled into one.

You'll surely be having the feet tapping with the OTT boogie of 'Daves Song', the drum-pattern the perfect accompaniment to more guitar mayhem from James.

The closer 'Spencer Corner' is a combination of styles. Not exactly southern rock nor boogie, it is a hybrid and is probably one of the weaker tracks on the album.

In Summary
Not much is known about the distribution of the album. My guess is that DSDA Records were a local label with very little in the way of pulling (or pushing) power, and even though the album would see a (what would be construed as an Italian bootleg) CD release in 1993, this album is extremely hard to track down. The band continued on for a few more years with no more recordings in the wings. James and Teague would go on to join eighties AORsters The Cauze, producing their 1987 self titled album. Gary James also found himself joining a local Fort Worth outfit called the Hired Guns. Paul Middleton left the band in 1983 and became an in-demand Engineer/Sound Mixer, working with the likes of Chris Issak, Bonnie Raitt and Kenny G. Blackhorse, because of their notoriety, reformed for a reunion gig in 2003, and proved that their tenure within Texan rock music circles was still very well remembered by all and sundry. Thoroughly and utterly recommended to all followers of decent Texan boogie. For those who have it on vinyl, put it at the top of your LP Restoration/Conversion list, or better yet, send an email to the team at Wounded Bird and get them to do the decent thing.

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#1 | gdazegod on May 03 2006 10:04:16
Martin Popoff obviously knew a thing or two about this band. He obviously has good taste.. Not so sure about his other!
#2 | gdazegod on March 11 2008 09:48:02
Blackhorse now have a MySpace page and recently played a local gig in Forth Worth as at Feb 2008. Whoa! clap
#3 | gdazegod on April 11 2008 20:12:18
Blackhorse have another gig planned in April 2008 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, featuring the original lineup of James, Middleton and Teague. These boys need to get back in the recording studio!
#4 | rostoned on June 03 2008 22:38:09
You're right George, this was released on picture CD in the early 90s by an Italian (not German) bootleg label called Limited Records (...), instead their original vinyl label was called DSDA . It must be said that given its extreme rarity it was a necessary evil after all!

The same CD 'company' put out at the same time other interesting but not licensed releases by Neon Rose, Dschinn (both pre legit reissues by Universal Norway and Second Battle) and Buccaneer, Amish and Bloody Mary (those three still unreissued officially as of today). Striktly for heavy konnoisseurs stuff!
#5 | gdazegod on December 31 2010 07:28:44
Still amazed that this album hangs out like a shag on a rock - waiting for a reissue. Must talk to these guys again and see what's up..
#6 | gdazegod on October 29 2013 11:55:57
Seems there's another reissue out for this album. On the Common Sound label. Apparently digitally remastered too.
#7 | sabace on December 18 2014 19:45:45
I have the common sound cd - great sound!
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