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After bouncing back on two incredible albums that gained no attention in the States at all, Yngwie saw fit to have a nostalgic interlude and create a tribute album to all of the bands and artists in the rock/metal genre that inspired him to pick up his instrument. I was not surprised of many of the choices as his sound pretty much carries all of the various characteristics that are present on these songs. However, being someone who never plays the same thing twice, Yngwie has opted to make some changes in the arrangements of these songs that may not sit well with everyone.
Some of the changes are quite innovative, particularly utilizing his newfound skill at the Sitar to replace the synthesizer intro of “Gates of Babylon”, as well as placing a rather impressive classical guitar line to replace the violin ending. “Anthem” and “Pictures of Home” see some rather sizable elaborations on the led parts, which complement the heavier sound that Yngwie brings to these remakes quite nicely. “Carry on my Wayward Son” sees a completely different riff introduced to replace 2 of the development riffs present in the original version, which actually makes the song slightly less epic sounding and more accessible.
However, the changes made to “Child in Time” may not sit well with many, as the entire guitar solo has been pretty much revamped entirely. I don’t mind it, but purist fans of Deep Purple will probably not take too well to it, regardless to how extravagant a job Yngwie does on it. Jens Johannsen’s keyboard solo is also quite different from the original one done by Jon Lord, although again probably a lot more on the technically impressive side, with a dash of Far-East spirit.
On the vocal side of the equation, we have a collection of rather brilliant performances by 3 former Rising Force vocalists. Joe Lynn Turner pulls off a wicked version of “Demon’s Eye” and an almost equally impressive rendition of “Pictures of Home”. Mark Boals has made some sizable improvements in his vocal abilities and delivers a standout rendition of “Anthem”, a song that is incredibly hard to pull off and sound good. “Sails of Charon” and “In the Dead of Night” are also extremely well done, but his performance in “Child in Time” is a bit lacking. It’s not horrible, but the high notes still sound a bit forced and it doesn’t reach that pinnacle of spirit that Ian Gillian seemed to reach effortlessly.
However, the clear winner in the vocal department is Jeff Scott Soto, it’s not even close. He has solid renditions of “Carry on my Wayward Son” and “Mistreated”, but his most amazing performance is “Gates of Babylon”. His sleazy, throaty, rough edges shouts equal the intensity of Ronnie James Dio’s original performance and his harmonies are a bit more polished. It should also be noted that Yngwie’s own interpretation of “Manic Depression” is solid, even sounding better than Jimi Hendrix in the vocal department as he was not really much of a singer, though obviously a pioneer at the guitar.
The rest of the musicians on here do their jobs nicely, but I think it appropriate to give kudos to 2 particular ones for this project. Anders Johannsen won a good deal of respect from me for his interpretation of “Anthem”, which is a pretty damned hard song to play on the drums. Mats Olausson, whom I happen to prefer to Jens Johannsen, also deserves praise for a spot on performance on the organ on “Pictures of Home”.
In conclusion, this is about as good as it gets as far as tribute albums go, especially if you are a fan of guitar shredding. This album enjoyed a large amount of play in my CD player throughout the late 90s, and I still occasionally pop it in and still find it highly entertaining. Fans of Yngwie’s glory days in the 80s with Rising Force will also want to check it out as it has all the original members in attendance. I proudly endorse this as one of the better tribute albums to come out in recent history.
I love cover albums. The title of this album is why I love cover albums. Inspiration. I love to see who or what bands inspired and influenced some of my all time favorite bands. So who are some of the people that inspired or inspires Yngwie Malmsteen?
Jimi Hendrix, noted as one of the gods of rock n roll, has inspired Malmsteen. There are two songs on this album by Jimi Hendrix, Manic Depression and the bonus Spanish Castle Magic. Overall these two songs closely follow the orignials, the singer even tries to morph his voice to sound like Jimi with a deep sound. He even puts in some laughs and eh's, like Hendrix did all the time in his music. Some of the other inspirations to Malmsteen are Deep Purple and Rainbow. There is an amazing four Deep Purple songs and one Rainbow song. Pictures of Home, Child of Time, Demon's Eye, and Mistreated are the Deep Purple songs. These songs are nice adaptions of the original songs. Although Malmsteen's inspiration is Ritchie Blackmore from Deep Purple, the solo's aren't the same as the original songs. The Rainbow song is called Gates of Babylon, and this almost sounds as good as the original. On this song the vocalist goes back to his original singing style, the drum beat and guitar riff is right on for an awsome headbanging show.
The rest of the covers are from artists The Scorpions and U.K. Overall this album isn't really bad at all. It shows what bands inspire the mad axe man Yngwie Malmsteen. One thing that I have noticed is the different songs sound like they have different singers. I wonder if this was not all recorded at once, but at different times with different singers?! As for the originality of the music: it is pretty close to the originals. Most of the time Malmsteen gets carried away and rips out a sweep or guitar lick that isn't in the originals. As for the solo's, they're just not the same. But that isn't really bad. It shows Malmsteen's interpretation of the songs, adding a flavor of neo-classical music to some of the most bad ass songs in classic rock history.