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Yngwie Malmsteen – Blue Lightning review

Release Date: Out Now
Label: Mascot
Genre: Rock

Tracklisting:

  1. Blue Lightning
  2. Foxy Lady
  3. Demon’s Eye
  4. 1911 Strut
  5. Blue Jean Blues
  6. Purple Haze
  7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  8. Sun’s Up Top’s Down
  9. Peace, Please
  10. Paint It Black
  11. Smoke On The Water
  12. Forever Man

Yngwie Malmsteen has been at the forefront of guitar innovation and playing since the early 80’s alongside the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. His ability to play fast and dexterously has won him an army of fans always wanting more shredding from the guitar virtuoso. The impact his playing has had over the previous 4 decades is obvious and he is often quoted as being a major influence on some of the worlds finest today.

Blue Lightning is Malmsteen’s 20th studio album and not his usual remit. This is a album that tips his hat firmly towards the Blues, which obviously is a major influence, and not the Hard Rock/Heavy sound fans have become used to. First off is the title track and original recording Blue Lightning. As you would expect the song is a showcase for the immense solo in the middle however, Yngwie’s voice seems to have improved and the song overall is an excellent introduction to the album and sits well with the classics to follow. Foxy Lady as we all know is one of Jimi Hendrix’s most memorable tunes and it takes a brave guitarist to attempt to put their own sound on such a track. Yngwie does not just play the song note for note (we have all heard it before) he adds his trademark licks and brings the song up to date with his own indomitable sound.

Demon’s Eye is a Deep Purple cover and, again, is superbly performed. Although not an obvious choice it is good to hear a new version of a song not everyone will be aware of and it does sound sufficiently like the original with a 2019 sound. 1911 Strut is the second original composition on the album and starts with a blistering solo which continues throughout the near 3 minute song. A great instrumental deservedly on the album which segue into a ZZ Top cover Blue Jean Blues. As you would expect, Yngwie puts his own style over the nuts and bolts of the song and shows his guitar playing is not all about how fast notes are played but when the notes are played. The second Jimi Hendrix cover is Purple Haze. Yngwie has been playing this song live for a long while and this shows on how masterful the playing is. A rockier version of The Beatles classic While My Guitar Gently Weeps is my highlight from the album. Not an obvious song for a Blues album however Yngwie has done the song justice and I am sure George Harrison will be smiling down. The soloing has really added to the song without being too much over the top which is a very delicate line to tread. Next up are Sun’s Up Top’s Down and Peace, Please which are the last of the original recordings and as bluesy as the album gets. The latter is another instrumental and is a worthy addition to the Yngwie arsenal.

The last three tracks on the album are more obvious choices. Paint It Black is a little disappointing with the vocal not quite hitting the mark. I feel having a guest vocalist would have benefited this version although the musicianship is faultless. Smoke On The Water is one of the most famous and memorable songs ever written and Yngwie channels his best Richie Blackmore to produce a version far superior to some other cover versions I have heard recently. The last track is Eric Clapton’s Forever Man. An incredibly difficult song to imitate so Yngwie really ups the ante and sings really well and puts his own stamp on the musicality of his version of this classic.

Yngwie Malmsteen fans will appreciate this album and I feel the record company have requested a Blues themed album to accumulate a wider fan base. Does it work? Yes and No. Some songs I feel are rushed just to get to the solo so Yngwie can shred and his voice is not always suited to every track. However, the guitar playing is absolutely faultless and the classics are updated and given a heavier tone. The 4 original recordings are not out of place on this album so, therefore, the album a worthwhile addition to your record collection.

Rating: 8/10

Reviewer: Simon Kneller

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