Tokyo Blade is an English heavy metal band, active since 1982. Tokyo Blade is one of the many acts considered part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement from the late 1970s / early 1980s. Tokyo Blade went through many changes of formation and disbanded twice, often changing their musical style during the years of activity. However, the band is still active today, with three of the original members in the line-up.


The band was formed in 1981 under the moniker Killer, soon changed to Genghis Khan. The original line-up consisted of Alan Marsh (vocals), Andy Boulton (guitar), Ray Dismore (guitar), Andy Robbins (bass), and Steve Pierce (drums). Later in the year, the band changed their name again, sealed a deal with the British independent record label Powerstation Records and recorded their first album. This album was self-titled in all regions, except in the United States, where it came out as Midnight Rendezvous on the Combat Records label. Also in 1981, the best period for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal phenomenon, the new band shared the stages of clubs and festivals with future heavyweights like Metallica and Venom.

Tokyo Blade, like many other acts of the period, was plagued by a fequent change of band members. By the time the follow-up album was released, even vocalist Alan Marsh was replaced with Vic Wright. The album Night of the Blade was issued in 1984 with Wright on vocals. However in 1998, an edition of the album featuring Marsh's original vocals was eventually released as Night of the Blade... The Night Before. In that period, Tokyo Blade were part of a few memorable tours and festival packages including one with Blue Öyster Cult and others with Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, and Scorpions. The band's third record Black Hearts & Jaded Spades was released in 1985 by the band's own label in Europe and available in the USA as an import only. The band filmed a concert at London's Camden Palace, which was aired on Channel 4 in 1985, and has since made its way on to multiple bootleg DVD releases. By the end of the year, Tokyo Blade disbanded, with all members dedicating their time and efforts to other projects.

Original vocalist Alan Marsh used his knowledge and respect for Oriental culture to form a new band called Shogun, alongside former Chinatown guitarist Danny Gwilym, which released two albums, and even worked with noted producer Bob Ezrin. Shogun would also feature in time Tokyo Blade bandmates Steve Pierce, Andy Wrighton and Andy Robbins. Guitarist John Wiggins (Deep Machine, Slam) would go on to play in the first edition of Battlezone with ex-Iron Maiden vocalist Paul DiAnno. Original bassist Andy Robbins would be a part of the bands Jagged Edge and Taste, which recorded a single with Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson and later became the hard rock band Skin. Vic Wright formed the band Johnny Crash, which earned the distinction of being the first project related to Tokyo Blade to have a major label home in the US, and released the album Neighbourhood Threat . A new line-up of the band, which featured future Guns N' Roses members Dizzy Reed and Matt Sorum, recorded a second album, originally called Damnation Alley, which saw release in 2008 on Sun City Records, re-titled Unfinished Business.

On the contrary, original guitarist Andy Boulton continued recording under the name 'Andy Boulton's Tokyo Blade', with an entirely new line-up. This new incarnation of Tokyo Blade released the album Ain't Misbehavin' in 1987 and toured on the festival circuit, playing also on the same stage of Black Sabbath. In 1988, Boulton recruited members of the German band The Dead Ballerinas (featuring former Kin Ping Meh vocalist Michael Pozz) to record No Remorse, issued under the GAMA International sub-label Hot Blood Records. The album received no promotion and was soon forgotten. To add further insult to injury, the album has been reissued with multiple covers, not unlike what happened with the debut. Tokyo Blade again disbanded, with Boulton returning to work with Alan Marsh.

In fact, as record company problems befell Shogun, Marsh had since formed a new group called Mr. Ice, which eventually included guitarist Andy Boulton. As the group featured two key members from Tokyo Blade, a move from the band's management to resurrect the old name for a European tour with Uriah Heep led to additional controversy. As a result of the dispute, Boulton exited the group and was replaced by guitarist Steve Kerr. After the conclusion of the tour, both Kerr and the management were gone. Some of the tracks from Mr. Ice were released as a Tokyo Blade record in the mid-1990s.

In the early 1990s, Alan Marsh had another band, Pumphouse, which was beginning to attract attention. At the urging of a fan and important member of the hard rock press, Marsh contacted Boulton to reform Tokyo Blade. By 1994, Marsh and Boulton were again playing together and creating new music. The highlight of this is 1996s Burning Down Paradise which was originally released on SPV. Pumphouse's key tracks were also released as a Tokyo Blade record in the mid-to-late 1990s.

The early records by the band were reissued in 1997 by High Vaultage, and the later period recordings were gathered by Zoom Club. There was a promise for new music and efforts by the band, but there has been no sign of a new Tokyo Blade recording until the live album Live in Germany in 2009.

Andy Boulton went on to be in the band XFX, later concentrating his efforts on a solo album and on teaching electric and bass guitar. Alan Marsh joined for a while the cast of a musical based on Jack the Ripper. Second vocalist Vic Wright has written a book, has a comedy show in production and is currently seeking a publishing deal. However, a new version of Tokyo Blade, including Boulton and lead singer Chris Gillen, toured in Europe in 2008.

Following the conclusion of the 2008 tour and release of the Live in Germany album, the line-up was again revamped, and four parts of the classic line up, John Wiggins, Andy Boulton, Andy Wrighton and Steve Pierce, reformed Tokyo Blade with new vocalist Chris Gillen staying on board. Gillen was eventually replaced after a couple of months by Domain singer Nicolaj Ruhnow and the band recorded the new album Thousand Men Strong with producer Chris Tsangarides at the helm, released in March 2011. Tokyo Blade was still a live attraction at metal festival in 2010 and 2011.

Bassist Andy Wrighton (Deep Machine, Shogun) and guitarist John Wiggins (Deep Machine, Slam) are currently also in the reformed Deep Machine with guitarist Bob Hooker, singer Lenny Baxter (Ex-Gangland) and drummer Chas Towler (Slam). Deep Machine is a metal band formed in the 1980s in East London. They were one of the unsigned pioneers of NWOBHM in the vein of Judas Priest/Iron Maiden.

Source and authors: Wikipedia / list of authors

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