Bent Out of Shape: Blue Murder Remastered and Reloaded
This week, I wanted to take a break from my lesson-style blog posts and take a moment to review a special release, or rather, re-release, I just received in the mail.
Imported from England via Rock Candy records, is the newly remastered debut album from power trio/supergroup Blue murder. The band was by formed by guitarist John Sykes and featured bassist Tony Franklin and drummer Carmine Appice.
This also was the first album to feature Sykes as a lead vocalist, which, combined with his songwriting established him as a prominent band leader. The album, originally released in 1989, wasn't a commercial success. But over the past 25 years, it has developed a cult following and should be required listening for any rock/metal musician.
Musically, the album has a lot to offer, particularly for guitarists. To describe Sykes' style, I'd say his solos combine speed and melody with flawless execution and pitch-perfect vibrato. As an example, check out this song from the album:
As for the remaster, I would say sonically the album is much louder than the original. The music sounds identical, which is good considering the production was handled by Bob Rock and mixed by Mike Fraser. To remix the album wouldn't make much sense as the original mixes are superb. Bringing the volume up to the level of modern-day music is a welcomed change.
There are, however, a few issues. The first is a misprint in the track listing, which lists an extra track. I had hoped this was a new bonus track, but this wasn't the case. Secondly, the remaster boasts a 3,500-word essay and a new interview with Sykes. As far as I can tell, there is no interview, just a few quotes from Sykes in the essay by rock journalist Malcolm Dome. I also suspect these quotes may have been taken from old interviews, but I can't be sure. I would also have liked to hear from the other musicians involved, but upon investigation found out they didn't even know about the remaster. Having said that, the essay is well written and interesting, particularly for those unfamiliar with the story behind the band's formation.
Those issues aside, this is a phenomenal album and a worthwhile purchase. Cream was the first supergroup, and Blue Murder draw many parallels with each member being highly respected and accomplished in their own right. Of course, Sykes was always the driving force behind the music, but the dynamic between all three members is one the biggest strengths of the album. It had such a dramatic impact on me that I sought Appice and Franklin for my own music. Blue Murder may not have been a commercial success, but now, almost 25 years later, the album is still of interest and continues to be an influence for rock/metal musicians.
In addition, this re-master serves as a nice prelude for Sykes, who is working on a new album set for release later this year. Nowadays he releases music under his own name, but recently Tony Franklin was confirmed as a guest on the new album. For more information, check out Sykes' new website, johnsykes.com. As a fan of Sykes and Blue Murder I am really looking forward to this release. Cheers!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.