(TheBRHM.com) In 1984, Memphis act Xavion released their sole album Burnin’ Hot. They would release a video for “Eat Your Heart Out” which resulted in the band becoming the first Black rock act to be featured on MTV.
Unfortunately, the band was out of the game before the decade ended. Their debut album features cover artwork that would put you in the mind of a thrash metal or power metal band of the time.
What you will get is something entirely different but still pretty damn cool. It’s an album that really lends itself to what ifs and wondering how far Xavion could’ve gone given how metal and rock grew during the 80s.
The possibilities were endless. We’ll dwell a bit on that later, let’s get into Burnin’ Hot.
Xavion – Eat Your Heart Out: The A-Side
On the A-side of this album we have five tracks. From this side, you get a mix of funk and hard rock. These five tracks are all strong rockers and half of them are catchy. They include:
-Eat Your Heart Out
-Don’t Let It Go To Your Head
In listening to this side, you’ll probably notice it’s a brisk listen. These songs have length to them but most of them are catchy enough that they don’t seem like three or four-minute tunes.
I dig an up-tempo song or anything that just rides. Songs like “Eat Your Heart Out,” “Burnin’ Hot,” and “Self-Made Hell” fit the bill perfectly. While the other two tunes are solid-to-good, the A-side is definitely carried by the strength of these three.
Of the three, “Burnin’ Hot” is the strongest song on the A-side with “Eat Your Heart Out” being the more commercial of three. Something more in the vein of “Burnin’ Hot” is something I would’ve loved.
Standout Tracks: Eat Your Heart Out, Burnin’ Hot, Self-Made Hell
The B-side is something of a different story. There are good songs here but the pace simmers down quite a bit to deliver love songs for the most part. I wasn’t banging my head like I did on the A-side.
That isn’t to say that this side was more of a throwaway side because such songs would’ve been radio friendly in the 1980s.
Actually, the B-side tunes seem like the ones that would’ve had this proto-funk metal band touring with acts outside of hard rock and metal. Included are:
-Can’t Get My Connection
-You’re My Type
-Get Me Hot
Of the four tracks on this side, “Love Games” and “Get Me Hot” are my favorites here. Only “Get Me Hot” is more up my alley but “Love Games” is worth a spin or two.
The sleeper here is “You’re My Type”. I don’t what it is but sometimes I really enjoy the song while other times I’ve skipped it only to get to “Get Me Hot.” This one is likely a song that will grow on me with time.
Standout Tracks: Love Games, Get Me Hot
I’m going to say that this mix was ahead of its time but not something that couldn’t be achieved by more popular acts at time.
Michael Jackson, Prince, and Rick James would have tunes with a similar edge to their music. As a matter of fact, Purple Rain came out that same year and the sound was very different.
If I had to put a familiar song to their sound, I’d say Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” with more edge to it or Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” The thing is that this album has a very mainstream-friendly 80s sound.
The keyboard and guitar assault gives the tunes this fun vibe for the most part. Lead singer Dexter Haygood had a lot of potential as a frontman in metal during this decade and I would’ve love to see what he could’ve done in other genres during the 80s.
Personally, I would’ve preferred more of the hard rockin’, up-tempo of the A-side. That side was right up my alley and a full album in the same direction would’ve been absolutely awesome.
Xavion had a sound that was a few years ahead of the likes of Fishbone, Living Colour, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Faith No More.
Had the band made more albums following Eat Your Heart Out, we likely would’ve seen them head clean into the same direction as the four abovementioned bands.
The best example of this is how lead singer Dexter Haygood—who appeared on X Factor—developed his voice from the 1980s up until now. With his vocal flexibility, Xavion could’ve been one of those consistent old school bands that changed with the times in the best way.
Who knows, maybe Xavion will get that Black Death-like resurrection. For now, check out Burnin’ Hot on YouTube, Apple Music, or wherever you enjoy your music. Also, put Dexter Haygood’s cover of “Wild Flower” into your ears!
Album Grade: C (Solid)
Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.