Known for his neo-classical style of heavy metal guitar playing, on Blue Lightning, Malmsteen has opted to blend his style with the blues.
This is not a blues album however. This is a traditional Malmsteen album in every sense, he’s just paying tribute to blues classics (and peppering in a few originals) by giving them the Yngwie treatment. We start with the title track, and the first original song on Blue Lightning, and there is definitely a blues tone to the majority of the track. Yngwie unleashes some blistering guitar work, utilising every inch of the fret board, ultimately making the song far too busy to be a “blues track”.
Blue Lightning is made up of a combination of original material and several classic covers. The original songs (Blue Lightning, 1911 Strut, Suns Up, Tops Down and Peace Please) are the highlights, because there is nothing to compare them to. They’re new songs, not classics that we have lived with and adored for decades. 1911 Strut is a fantastic example of Malmsteens guitar work, and the only song from this album that I have included in my play list.
The rest of the album is made up of cover songs from some of the all time greats. There’s Foxey Lady and Purple Haze from Hendrix, Demons Eye and Smoke on the Water from Deep Purple, Blue Jean Blues from ZZ Top, Paint it Black by The Stones, While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles and Forever Man by Eric Clapton.
With the only exception being the ZZ Top cover, every one of these versions is an over the top, overly busy shadow of the exceptional originals. Malmsteen hasn’t necessarily made these tracks his own, as much as taken absolute classics and laid way too much guitar wankery all over them… with horrible vocals as the capper.
I’ll be happy if I never hear any of the cover songs again. Especially his versions of Purple Haze and Paint it Black.
We all know that the mans a phenomenal guitar shredder, so this is just unnecessary really. I would have been way more interested in this album if he’d stripped back his style, and tried to underplay.