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“…no one’s safe, no one laughs, the message is clear…”
As one of the quintet’s only pre-’85 singles not directly related to their Double Dealin'/Genghis Khan/early ’83 time period, this 7” would be the first offered by the band to sell brand new tracks (then again, how popular was the Genghis Khan ep that these could be considered old songs or even revisions of such?) to the public. And I say ‘sell’ because this is worth every penny.
With an identical version having been sighted bolting across the debut’s sky (the inaugural song on the thing, no less) around the same time, “Powergame” (still single worded here) earns its stripes on both discs as well as any it’s been summoned for since. This game’s power is in the forward-barrel vein of “Highway Passion”, untiring and full of control, yet comes off a bit more structurally defiant toward a more anxiety-bitten chorus.
Despite life lost as a mere uncommon passenger on larger future releases (a bonus ride-along on the Roadrunner-released Midnight Rendezvous ep and on ‘85’s Warrior of the Rising Sun compilation), “Death on Main Street” is nuthin’ if not a testimonial to the band’s youthfully zealous character and, despite any additional life lost on Main Street, how full of life they are. Its powerfully charged chorus can’t be missed, and when Alan Marsh’s cool and noticeably-echoed, mid-ranged grace glides into the tune’s simmering pot as the final spice, all is right in the world for about three and a half minutes.
In actuality, for almost eight minutes a favorable light is shed upon us, witnesses to Tokyo Blade’s small, but growing stack of close to flawless singles thus far.
Tokyo Blade – ‘Powergame’
Tokyo Blade are somewhat paradoxical; constantly suffering from line-up changes, one of the messiest discographies in the history of heavy metal – both a mainstream and cult reverence – though taking a turn for the glam in the later part of the 80’s. Here though – it’s not hard to see why they were at a time one of the most premier and poular NWOBHM acts. Their breakthrough single, from the legendary quasi-self-titled full length is an absolute essential to NWOBHM record collectors – and features some fast paced, energetic rock ’n’ roll assaults. At this time – you had to be hard and heavy to get anywhere – and Tokyo Blade delivers on both accounts here with two tracks that would become amongst their best known and frequent in the live set. ‘Powergame’ is probably the winner though – while the furious ‘Death on Mainstreet’ doesn’t wane on wailing guitar and impact – the aforementioned probably has the better hook/chorus.
Anyway – while both tracks feature stratospheric guitar riffs – very much similar to the Iron Maiden of the period, the b-side features some of the most awesome leadwork of the period alongside Savage and other greats. Absolutely slaying punk and pop-rock with this all-out shredding attack. The intro/verse section features the nasty horror lyrics in the tradition of ‘Wrath of the Ripper’ by Grim Reaper, or the legendary ‘Ripper’ by Priest. Cool lyrics in this one and some very much Iron Maidenish guitar/basswork. A ‘killer’ number that lives up to an ominous title. Meanwhile – your title track here is a NWOBHM great – worthy of any compilation of NWOBHM’s greatest hits. ‘Powergame’ thunders into action with some tough riffage before racing into aggressiveness in Alan Marsh’s classic delivery. This one seems a bit more formulaic and benefits from a strong, fast chorus attack, and doesn’t relent on steel heavy riffage. Two utterly slaying riff monsters here – you can see how these guys were catapulted to stardom with this stellar guitar driven sound. Guitars are the most Maiden-esque you can hear in NWOBHM (particularly the end riffage in the title track) which is killer, and energy and honesty are present here in bucketloads. Not hard to see why Tokyo Blade is still one of the most well regarded NWOBHM acts to come out of the scene. Thrilling rock n roll here!