BLACKJACK: Worlds Apart LP. 1980 Michael Bolton vocals, Bruce Kulick ex KISS on guitar. Check samples
Blackjack – Worlds Apart
Label: Polydor – PD-1-6279
Format: Vinyl, LP
Style: Soft Rock, Classic Rock
A1 My World Is Empty Without You 3:08 [cover of the Supremes hit] Written-By – Holland-Dozier-Holland
A2 Love Is Hard To Find 3:13 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
A3 Stay 4:33 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
A4 Airwaves 3:43 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
A5 Maybe It’s The Power Of Love 3:46 Written-By – M. Bolotin*
B1 Welcome To The World 4:43 Written-By – M. Bolotin*
B2 Breakaway 4:13 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
B3 Really Wanna Know 3:47 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
B4 Sooner Or Later 3:35 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
B5 She Wants You Back 2:51 Written-By – B. Kulick*, M. Bolotin*
Bass – Jimmy Haslip
Drums – Sandy Gennaro
Engineer – Rob Davis
Guitar – Bruce Kulick
Lead Vocals – Michael Bolotin*
Producer, Engineer – Eddy Offord
BLACKJACK was a band that showcased the rich talents possessed by former RCA recording artist Michael Bolotin. The group also proved to be a springboard to greater things for the majority of its members. As a solo artist Bolotin had recorded two albums of heavily R&B influenced material, but BLACKJACK transformed the man into a Hard Rock star capable of taking on David Coverdale at his own game. Bolotin was joined in BLACKJACK by former HOOKFOOT guitarist Bruce Kulick (brother of fellow guitarist Bob Kulick… ex-Meat Loaf), bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Sandy Gennaro. Additional keyboard work was supplied by Jan Mullaney. Both Haslip and Mullaney had previously played together in CARILLO.The band released a self-titled album through Polydor but then delivered a heavier sophomore effort, the Eddy Offord produced ‘World’s Apart’, before fragmenting as Bolotin set his sights on resuming his solo career, albeit re-inventing himself as MICHAEL BOLTON. As Bruce Kulick hooked up with the GOOD RATS for the ‘Great American Music’ album, Sandy Gennaro joined Canadian guitarist PAT TRAVERS’ band…]
“”Stay”” (1980) by Blackjack off their album “”Worlds Apart””, sampled by Kanye West for Jay-Z’s “”A Dream””, available on his album “”The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse””.”
Blackjack (Bruce Kulick, Jimmy Haslip, Sandy Gennero and some unknown guy named Michael Bolton) made a grand total of two albums before splitting. Michael went on to a fairly successful solo career (two Grammy awards), and a few years later Bruce joined Kiss. Neither guy is really sweating the fact that Blackjack had no impact. The albums are long out of print and hard to find.
Their second album, has memorable hooks. “Love is Hard to Find” works well as an early-80’s Bon Jovi blueprint. The ballad “Stay” certainly sounds like Michael Bolton, or more accurately, it sounds like Michael covering an over-dramatic Rod Stewart ballad.
The hardest rocker of the album is the side two opener, “Welcome to the World”, which bizarrely opens with an actual recorded baby birth. It is a pretty solid rocker with more of those Kulick harmony licks. Strangely, Kulick had nothing to do with its writing. “Sooner or Later” works great, perhaps a precursor to early Bon Jovi. Good track, and Michael lets the voice rip like you want to hear it.
Worlds Apart is interesting mostly to Kiss fans and collectors. As for Bolton fans, I know he still has many, and they would definitely buy Worlds Apart (they celebrate the guy’s entire catalogue).
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
LINEUP: Michael Bolotin – vocals * Bruce Kulick – guitars * Jimmy Haslip – bass * Sandy Gennaro – drums
Having previously been covered by their debut album reviewed earlier by Alun, ‘Worlds Apart’ completes the picture for this late 70’s of this excellent N.Y AOR outfit. Of course, it’s easy to say this was a vehicle for the great Michael Bolton, but the same can be said for future Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick too, who used Blackjack as a springboard in much the same way Bolton did for his Columbia/CBS career two years later. Wind the clock back to 1980 and this LP probably whizzed past every discerning melodic rock fan, and before we knew it, Blackjack were over and out. It wasn’t till years later, after Bolton’s successful solo career, Kulick’s run with Kiss and oddly enough and perhaps even Haslip’s stint with jazz exponents The Yellowjackets did Blackjack come back into vogue, though really only AOR trainspotters would’ve taken any notice. Produced by Eddy Offord who had a strong hand working with British prog outfits of the day, this is a long-lost AOR selection that deserves another look thirty odd years after its release.
I’m liking what I’m hearing with the opening couple of tracks. ‘My World Is Empty Without You’ opens with Touch like keyboards and surges upward into a symphonic rocker of suitable repute. Even better is second-up effort ‘Love Is Hard To Find’, a mid-paced stomping rocker which is catchy indeed. Ballad time in the form of ‘Stay’. Whirlygig keyboards introduce ‘Aiwaves’, with a great bridge and a chorus from the Balance songbook. ‘Maybe It’s The Power Of Love’ drops the tempo to a slower pace. Not quite ballad, but very melodic with a killer chorus which sees Bolotin ramp up the vocal power. ‘Welcome To The World’ is preceded by an audio clip of a baby being born, an obvious reference to the song title. While all this is going on, Blackjack kick into high gear for some suitable rollicking rock n roll. ‘Breakaway’ is a denser sounding AOR track, with twinkly keys and rough-edged guitars, ideal for the 1980 environment. Not quite up to Journey or Foreigner class but I’ll take it. ‘Really Wanna Know’ is perhaps the pick of the album. A bright sounding tune, and full of feelgood harmonies. ‘Sooner Or Later’ moves in a Shooting Star styled direction, all it needed was some violin to fill in the gaps. Topping off the album, ‘She Wants You Back’ features some 70’s pop-like features, a likeable track nonetheless, and not too far behind in the best-song on the album award.
Polydor didn’t appear to have interest in Blackjack beyond this set, probably more to do with poor album sales than reputations, so this LP is extremely hard to find. I’m glad to have given this record a refresher, and to remind myself that there are a few good songs to be found here, ‘Really Wanna Know’, ‘Love Is Hard To Find’ and ‘She Wants You Back’ in particular.