In HeatBlack ‘N Blue originally emerged with a really strong debut called Black ‘N Blue in 1984.  But despite the promise delivered by that first record, Black ‘N Blue’s career never took off.  Fast forward to 1988 and Black ‘N Blue’s fourth album In Heat.  By this time, Black ‘N Blue had hitched their wagons to none other than certified asshole Gene Simmons.  Gene took the band under his (bat) wing — producing In Heat, co-writing a few songs, and generally steering the band towards “success”.  But of course, relying on Gene Simmons to help you succeed musically is like asking Helen Keller to babysit your kids.  The man was wholly and hilariously without a clue.  Let’s face it, Gene’s musical acumen in the eighties was pretty f*cking suspect.  The only thing he had mastered was the fine art of “filler”, thanks to his underwhelming contributions to the KISS albums of the eighties.  Anyway, In Heat really reeks of Gene’s miserable taint.  Gene took Black ‘N Blue’s best attribute, knuckle-headed sincerity, and shat on it with his misguided notion of what it means to make music.  What once seemed natural and endearing to Black ‘N Blue (good dumb fun), now seemed overly forced and insincere.  It is as if Gene wanted every song on In Heat to be some kind of crowd pleasing, sing-along rock anthem.   But the execution was so tepid and unnatural that it pains me to hear Black ‘N Blue reduced to this level.  Production-wise, Simmons obviously wanted to make an album like Def Leppard’s Hysteria, but of course he failed miserably.  Too bad for Black N’ Blue, because they were kind of a cool band (and there are a few nice riffs and hooks here).  Unfortunately, Gene never knew a thing about having a soul, so it’s not surprising that In Heat feels soulless and calculated.  You can taste the desperation.  My score: C+

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