Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Blackhorse, Texas Southern Rock feature

Fox Huntin' has to be one of the best opening tracks on any album, ever! Baying hounds introduce one of the most driving riffs of all time, at first you think this might be Motörhead, but then the unmistakable Southern accents and bluesy leads come in and you find yourself in Southern hard rock heaven. Much of this 1979 album is on the verge of heavy metal, and that gives it a unique sound, there wasn't anything heavier than this in Southern rock at the time, that's for sure.

John Teugue  -  Gary James  -  Paul-Anthony Middleton
From Mineral Wells, Texas, power-trio Blackhorse self-released this record to sell at gigs. Gary James was on lead guitar, John Teague was on drums, Paul-Anthony Middleton was on bass and they all shared vocal duties. They made a name for themselves playing around the Dallas Fort Worth area, in clubs such as Motherload's, but their most-remembered gig was at KZEW's Zoo World free concert in the Dallas County Convention Center in 1980, clips of which can be found on Youtube. Along the way they supported other Southern heavyweights like Point Blank.

Live @ KZEW Zoo World 1980
Although the record is technically only a demo, the quality is remarkable. The fizzing guitars sound great, the playing is on the dime. The shared vocal duties, sometimes call and response, sometime in harmony, are perfect, and other than a couple of slower, but no less-good bluesy ballads, the pace never relents. Velvet Angel, The Party's Started, Hell Hotel and Dave's Song motor along and this is one record that doesn't tail off in intensity toward the end like so many others do.

There have been a couple of limited re-issues, an early '90s bootleg CD being the one that brought them to the wider attention of rock fans. 

One old fan remembers: "I worked as a bartender at Spencer's Corner in Ft. Worth late 70s and Blackhorse were once banned from the club because the rock n roll bar had a "No cowboy hats" policy and the drummer always wore one. Those dopes running the club (Spencer Taylor) would not back off the policy so Blackhorse wrote a tune (Spencer's Corner) that called them out. Eventually they played there again in 1979 I believe."

John Teague and Gary (under the name Jesse 'Ropeburn' James) reappeared in the mid-eighties in The Cauze (youtube). Unfortunately they were a very different proposition to Blackhorse, and made an album of silky smooth keyboard-laden AOR. But Blackhorse did reform in 2008 and play some shows, until Gary's untimely death in 2015. If you got to see them at any time you were very lucky indeed!

In the words of Blackhorse themselves: "Blackhorse is a three-piece of intense power and emotion whose concert apperances have been aptly hailed by critics as "kick-ass". This debut album is their story. So ... TURN IT UP and enjoy one of the best rock & roll albums ever".

Follow the Blackhorse facebook page.

Gary James – Lead guitar, vocals
John Teague – Drums, vocals
Paul-Anthony Middleton – Bass, vocals

Produced by Paul-Anthony Middleton
Associate Producer – Rick Hatfield
Engineer – Bob Hickey
Cover Art – Vicky Sheets

A1. Fox Huntin'
A2. Lucille
A3. Velvet Angel
A4. The Party’s Started
A5. Momma Gonna Love You Tonight
A6. Cannot Find My Way Home
B1. Hell Hotel
B2. You've Got The Way
B3. Slow Down Tom
B4. Dave’s Song
B5. Spencer's Corner

Release infos

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