“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING. Thanks Sarca!
What better way to end the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS than with a covers album?! Thanks for joining us this week for some very questionable music!
“Woah!” said I upon spying this album for the first time, back in 1998 at the big HMV on Yonge St. “Yngwie did a covers album! Scorpions, Rainbow, Rush, lots of Purple…I’m in!” For some reason, I thought that updated versions of some of my favourite songs redone by Yngwie Malmsteen would be something I’d want to hear all the time. Eagle Rock did a reissue of Inspiration a couple years later with some bonus tracks out of the Yngwie archives, so when that one came in used at the Record Store, I swapped up for it.
Now, you might think that with such vocal luminaries as Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Lynn Turner, and Mark Boals, it would be hard to miss. You would be wrong. It’s impressive that all three guys served as lead vocalist for Yngwie in the early years, and returned for the covers album. Beyond that, this album is still a turd. Right from the orange-skinned Yngwie turd cover art, to the ghastly version of “Manic Depression” that Yngwie sings himself, this album is dreadful. Just a real haul to try and listen to in one sitting.
Yngwie insists on producing all his music, and he has managed to make Jeff Scott Soto sound dull, sterile and boring. No mean feat. “Carry On Wayward Son” (Kansas) is an excuse for Malmsteen to over-shred, but Soto is not given a chance to do anything. Even though Yngwie’s version of the song is actually shorter, it sounds way longer. A simply atrocious “Pictures of Home” is given to Joe Lynn Turner to sing; kind of obvious since he was actually in Deep Purple for a few minutes. How did they get drums to sound this bad? The Blackmore obsession continues with “Gates of Babylon” (Rainbow) and even more Purple: “Mistreated”, “Demon’s Eye”, and “Child in Time”. Yes, that makes half of this covers album a Ritchie Blackmore covers album. “Gates of Babylon” is pretty good, Soto finally unleashed, but then Yngwie shits all over it with a guitar solo that is way louder than the lead vocals!
The best things about these remakes could be the keyboard of Jens Johansson: not trying to copy Jon Lord in any way, but certainly a fun player to listen to if you’re into the neo-classical. Unfortunately even he can’t save some of these tracks. “Child in Time” is truly awful, simply not worth listening to. Why waste eight minutes on this when you can play the original? On the brighter side, a heavy version of “In the Dead of Night” by the progressive rock supergroup, U.K. is pretty good. It’s a song you may recognize (I knew it from somewhere), but perhaps the reason I dig Yngwie’s version is that the original isn’t ingrained in my mind. Mark Boals sings it, and his voice is strong and ripping!
Then we have the bonus CD. (The Japanese version of the CD has a bonus track, Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic”, but I don’t care.) The best track on this disc is the song “Voodoo” from Yngwie’s album Magnum Opus. Mike Vescera was the singer, and I always liked his era in Malmsteen. It’s a heavy original tune with buckets of drama.
The balance of the bonus CD is a mixture of early Yngwie rarities and interviews…mixed together. Meaning you don’t get actual full songs. You get bits of songs and then Yngwie talking about the album and the music that inspired him, including Paganini. I really hate when songs are chopped up like this. The interview is not riveting but is good. Childhood musical memories, early bands, and influences are notable topics. Yngwie’s preoccupation with his own playing is fascinating. He calls it an “obsession” and it’s clear from his work that he plays only to please himself. And that’s just dandy.
Inspiration as a whole is overplayed, sonically sterile, and comes across as completely uninspired. When Yngwie overplays on his own originals, that’s OK. That’s the way the songs were written. When you go nuts soloing all over “Sails of Charon” (Scorpions), all the listener really wants is to hear the sultry, original tones of Uli Jon Roth. Inspiration is still a chore to finish, and it’s now going back on the shelf for a very long time.