Don’t believe what people say – pre-unification West-Berlin was a rather bleak place. The 20th of March 1985 was a rather bleak and rainy day. However, it was the day Tokyo Blade came to town and took the city by storm. Supported by dismal German outfits Railway and Talon, headliners Tokyo Blade played a blinder of a set – their energy, power and technical finesse reminding me more than a bit of a youthful Iron Maiden circa 1980/81. The 1,900-capacity Metropol Theatre in the heart of the divided city with its nice art-deco balcony shook to its foundations. Tokyo Blade were destined to become the next superstars of the glorious New Wave Of British Heavy Metal movement ... But somehow it wasn’t to be – history was not kind to them!
The double album on High Roller Records now collects the demos of Tokyo Blade’s forerunners Killer and Genghis Khan. Killer was formed in 1980 at the absolute height of the N.W.O.B.H.M. period, roughly a year before Iron Maiden’s second album called “Killers” was released. The vinyl compilation features the Killer tracks “Hellbound”, “Urban Warrior”, “It Don’t Matter To Me”, “Black Hole”, “Winner Takes All” and “Killer”. According to guitarist Andy Boulton Killer recorded two demo tapes and played around 20 live shows. In around 1983 Killer changed their name to Genghis Khan because another band was using the name as well (for example the Swiss Killer and later on Killer from Belgium). Andy Boulton explains the name change: “We heard there was a band using the name Killer and decided to change it as they were first, there was no threat of legal action. Alan Marsh's former band were called Genghis Khan and as they were no longer together we started using it.” The first Genghis Khan demo (featuring 11 numbers all on the current High Roller album) was issued in 1983 and according to Andy Boulton it was a natural progression to the Killer material. The same year Genghis Khan released a double 7" single called “Double Dealin” featuring “If Heaven Is Hell”, “Highway Pasion”, “Midnight Rendezvous” and “Mean Streak” (recorded at Bristol’s Cave Studios). The single was financed by a record shop in Salisbury called Rod Records. The owner of the shop was a big supporter of the band, as Andy Boulton explains: “Sadly Rod passed away some time ago, he was just a good friend and passionate about HM so he helped where he could.” “Double Dealin” was favourably reviewed in Kerrang! This did result in a lot of interest in the band. Andy Boulton: “Yes, and it got us airplay on the BBC1 ‘Friday Rock Show’ with Tommy Vance.”
For collectors it might be important to know that in the mid-1990's a substantial number of white label copies of the Genghis Khan “Double Dealin” 7" single surfaced (in its original sleeve). There are serious doubts about the authenticity of those copies. Andy Boulton reflects: “I would say they are fake, white labels are very limited and we only had a few.”
1983 was a very busy year for Andy Boulton and his band. They had to endure a second and final change of name – from Genghis Khan to Toyko Blade. Rumors say that this second name change came about because of pressure from the Maiden management in the form of Rod Smallwood and Andy Taylor (as Maiden was sometimes playing secret gigs in the guise of Genghis Khan). Andy Boulton is laughing out loud: “No, not at all true, we decided to change it because Alan’s former band mates from Genghis Khan times didn't like him using it.”
The Genghis Khan double 7" was soon to be re-released as two separate Tokyo Blade singles (“If Heaven Is Hell” and “Midnight Rendezvous”, both on Blade Records and today precious collector’s items). According to Andy Boulton the band manufactured those all on their own: “Yes, you're dead right we did, I think it was only 500 copies and they were left-overs from the Genghis Khan pressing.”
The original Tokyo Blade recorded two albums (the classic debut in 1983 and “Night Of The Blade” a year later) before disbanding in around 1985. Various line-ups without the original singer Alan Marsh continued to release further albums such as “Blackhearts And Jaded Spades”, “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “No Remorse”. Even a rare live bootleg vinyl album called “One Night In Ludwigsburg” appeared. Projects such as Shogun, Mr. Ice and Pumphouse followed until the current reformation of Tokyo Blade centred around original guitarists Andy Boulton and John Wiggins, Steve Pierce on drums, Andy Wrighton on bass and the new German vocalist Nicolaj Ruhnow. Tokyo Blade have just released a new studio album entitled “Thousand Men Strong” including a revamped version of the band’s signature song “Night Of The Blade”.