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Yngwie Malmsteen - Blue Lightning

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Yngwie Malmsteen will release “Blue Lightning” globally on March 29 via Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group. To call Yngwie Malmsteen a ‘maestro’ or ‘virtuoso’ is to state the obvious. But such terms don’t do sufficient justice to either his talent or impact. There are innumerable guitarists who have copied a small part of the vast musical spectrum that defines him, but nobody comes close to achieving what he has over a period of nearly four decades.

This man is an undoubted pioneer, someone whose style and creativity has inspired so many others. While he first came to everybody’s notice in Los Angeles with Steeler’s self-titled album (1983), followed by Alcatrazz’s ‘No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll’ the same year and ‘Live Sentence’ (’84), it’s been what he’s done since in a distinguished and far ranging career as a solo performer and band leader that has momentously shown Malmsteen’s craft and worth as one of the elite guitarists on the planet. Combining skills that span a vast spectrum of inspirations, he stands as a giant, melding melody, technique and an epic scope in a unique and inclusive fashion.

Now, with Blue Lightning, the man highlights not only his enduring dexterity and diversity, but also pays homage to those from the Blues world who have fueled his artistic spirit for so long.

I have always played around with old songs, both live and also in the studio. I did a similar album called Inspiration a while ago (1996), and it was Mascot who came to me and suggested I do a Blues record.”

Now, I grew up in a classically trained family, and people know me for playing in what is called a neo classical style. But when I got a guitar for my fifth birthday, what I would try to emulate were John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – I would jam along to what they did on record with Eric Clapton (‘Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton’ album). That’s something people don’t realize about me – I do have a strong interest in the Blues. So, when Mascot came to me with the suggestion of doing an album of songs in this style, it didn’t faze me at all. In fact, it seemed so natural.”

What Malmsteen has done here is combine choices which might seem almost obvious with some that will turn heads. He shares, “There were songs that were immediately clear I wanted to do. These were the likes of “Purple Haze” and “Smoke On The Water” which I have been playing since I was a kid. But then I also went for something like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” which I wasn’t sure I could do. In this case, it’s about trial and error. I am delighted that I was able to do justice to the original.”

Anyone who is expecting Malmsteen to copy exactly the way the original versions sound is in for a shock. Because that is not what he has done. He reflects, “I have never been one of those people who wants to sit down and mimic the way in which a song sounds on record. I don’t see the point in doing that. If all you want to hear is a song the way you remember it, then the originals are there for you. What I have done is add in my own vibe and personality, while paying tribute to what you already know. That way I feel I am being myself, yet also being respectful to those artists.”

One thing this album has allowed Malmsteen to do is to challenge himself, which is certainly the case of Eric Clapton’s “Forever Man.” He offers, “I heard this on the radio, and honestly I didn’t know whether I could do it for this album. But I sat down and tried things, and they worked out. I had to rise to the occasion and am delighted to have done exactly that.” This track showcases not only Malmsteen’s celebrated guitar qualities, but also his maturing individual vocal confidence. He reflects, “On the singing side with ‘Forever Man,’ I did it all in one take. I got the lyrics through, went into the studio, and just got them done. I am not someone who likes to do take after take. I feel you should be able to get it right the first time around. That applies to the vocal parts and also my guitar playing. And for the most part, this is the way I did Blue Lightning.”

The man has also paid homage to a particular favorite. He shares, “When I was ten years old, I got Deep Purple’s Fireball album, which I have always thought was very undervalued. And the song that really killed me was ‘Demon’s Eye.’ And I was very keen to do it for the album. Thankfully, the key was just right for my voice, and I had so much fun doing it. In fact, I would say that I had a great time doing all the songs here.

Aside from the covers, there are also four original tracks included. And these clearly bring to the fore Malmsteen’s abiding love for the Blues, as well as his capacity for doing interpretations possessed of emotion and depth. He offers, “I have always featured songs with a Blues groove on albums. So, having my own material in this vein was very natural for me.

The album is self-produced, and Malmsteen has followed a traditional manner in the way this was recorded. He shares, “In the old days, a band would go into the studio, do a couple of songs, then go out on tour, before returning to the studio to do a couple more new tracks. That’s the way I did things this time. I have been so busy on the road in recent times that it was the most pragmatic way to do the album. In all, it took me about ten months to get it done, but by going in the studio in between touring commitments, I feel it kept everything fresh.”

The complete track listing includes “Blue Lightning,” “Foxey Lady,” “Demon’s Eye,” “1911 Strut,” “Blue Jean Blues,” “Purple Haze,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Sun’s Up Top’s Down,” “Peace, Please,” “Paint It Black,” “Smoke On The Water,” and “Forever Man.”



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I used to buy all of his albums, but the last album I bought by him was Attack back in 2002.

The problem is, while he will always be an amazing guitarist, his albums all start to sound the same.

And after the amazing Odyssey his output became fairly generic. Not bad albums, and not lacking talent, just generic.

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3 hours ago, Captain Howdy said:

The problem is, while he will always be an amazing guitarist, his albums all start to sound the same.


I don't see a point anymore of buying any of his albums after Odyssey. I can confidently say that I've theoretically heard every album that he'd released after Odyssey even if I own only a couple of his albums.

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I've never been a fan.... He always seemed like a complete toolbag

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After the first spin I like it to be honest. Interesting interpretations of the old classics and four original songs. Inspiring solo work though it would have been better with a real singer and producer. But overall a nice surprise for me.

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YNGWIE MALMSTEEN - Blue Lightning (Review)

The deluxe edition of Yngwie Malmsteen’s new CD comes with a drinks coaster. I recommend sticking to the regular version and just use the disc instead.
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, where we get to investigate Yngwie’s latest musical offering – this time he’s tackling “the blues”. I’m not sure which blues he speaks of – this record has as much in common with the Mississippi Delta or the origins of blues based rock as Steve Perry is to gangsta rap.
Look, I know it’s fun to read a bad review and especially one aimed at Yngwie – but it’s not without cause. This album continues the muddy mess that has been every record in recent years where Yngwie is in control of playing, producing and mixing. It’s just bloody awful.
The opening title track has wall to wall rhythm with bass reduced to sounding like a distant foghorn dipped in crude oil. There’s no space between instruments and the relentless double kick drum on just about every damn song is completely out of place. Much like Yngwie playing the blues.
Just check out Foxey Lady. Widdling intro, brain damaging bass thumping and thrash like double kick drum speed while Yngwie’s “vocals” and continual widdling travel along at half the speed. Doesn’t anyone ever say “dude, this ain’t right?”
It’s the same with Purple Haze. Widdle, thump, widdle, thump, wail, widdle – all at double the sensible tempo.
How about the utterly classic While My Guitar Gently Weeps – the beautiful, gentle, restrained masterpiece of subtlety and style? Widdle, thump, widdle widdle, wail, double-widdle, triple-widdle.
There is zero soul on this album.
Yes Yngwie can play like a BMF. Yes, he can widdle faster than the speed of taste, yes he used to be an essential purchase when actually using a producer, a vocalist, a bassist and a drummer (a real band that is).

Until he employs a modicum of self-restraint and self-awareness (and a vocalist and a producer etc etc), then I will be here to critique these albums honestly. And honestly, this is more of the same.
I’ll score this a 22 – the same number of years since the last great Malmsteen record.
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