It’s weird hearing Yngwie Malmsteen not doing the Yngwie Malmsteen million mile per hour guitar run thing 100% of the time. Blue Lightning (Mascot Records / Mascot Label Group) is Yngwie’s bluesy take on classic Rock n’ Roll cover songs, hand-picked, played and sung by the guitar virtuoso. It’s a mindbender to hear. It’s like, Blue Lightning consists of classic tunes but Malmsteen and his eccentric guitar playing makes them seem space-age science fiction futuristic sounding.
Blue Lightning is both hit and miss. ‘Demon’s Eye’ is the most spot-on track. It exudes this sixties party vibe. The music is just behind the beat by a nano-second and it gives ‘Demon’s Eye’ a swagger. Malmsteen has the blues mastered and it shows on this track. His guitar solo is like milk chocolate. There is no way you can listen to this track and not move your hindquarters.
The title track is, likewise, full of amazing guitar work. How can it not be? Malmsteen is almost restrained on this song as each individual note actually has a purpose and advances the listeners’ enjoyment of the song. Each sixteenth and thirty-second note in ‘Blue Lightning’ adds something to the composition.
‘Blue Jean Blues’ is another song that is just gobsmackingly amazing. Yngwie puts all his soul into this track and the results are a stunning piece of tunage.
However, for all the musical greatness, the counterpoint is that the vocals don’t come up to the mark, at times they sound soulless, dead and there is no gravitas where it should be: ‘Paint It Black’ lacks the Punk vibe and ‘Foxy Lady’ does not drip and ooze with sexuality. Yngwie’s crooning does hit the mark on ‘Forever Man’, though, and I feel it’s actually better than the original. He also knocks it out of the ballpark, vocals-wise, with ‘Blue Jean Blues’.
Overall, Yngwie has put together an interesting guitar album laden with blues tracks. It’s fun to hear old favourites reimagined. In the hands of the uber-talented Malmsteen, the guitar work takes some intriguing turns and reinvents the songs; sometimes the results are quite extraordinary, and sometimes not.
6 / 10