REVIEW: Yngwie Malmsteen – Trial By Fire: Live in Leningrad (1989)

YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – Trial By Fire:  Live in Leningrad (1989 Polydor)

Walk up to the well-schooled rock fan in your group of friends and ask, “What do you think of Yngwie J. Malmsteen?”

Even the ones who don’t like the Swedish Speed Demon’s albums will admit, “except for that one with Joe Lynn Turner; that was pretty good.”

The short-lived Turner lineup did release a live album in 1989.  Trial By Fire: Live in Leningrad was accompanied by home video of the same name with more tracks.  By 1990, Malmsteen already had a new album and singer named Göran Edman, but only Joe Lynn Turner had the marquee value to bring Yngwie a Billboard top 40 charting record (#40 with Odyssey).

Although Turner can act as a gateway to hear Yngwie for the first time, his stuff can still be pretty off-putting.  Just look at the pompous “thank you’s” on the inside sleeve.  Sprinkled in with the regular names are da Vinci, Bach, Beethoven, Paganini, HP Lovecraft and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.  Come on, Yngwie!

Joe is a versatile singer, which is one reason he’s always been sought after.  He effortlessly imbibes the old Yngwie tracks with his own attitude:  “Liar”, “Queen in Love”, and “You Don’t Remember” are better with Joe singing.  Unfortunately this is marred by a too-loud audience and Yngwie’s always excessive shredding.  More often than not, he overplays.

When it works, it works.  “Heaven Tonight”, “Queen in Love” and “Deja Vu”, the most melodic songs, click.  The instrumentals are good too, like demonstrations of immaculate neo-classical rock.  “Far Beyond the Sun” is tightly composed and arranged, though live Yngwie lets the strings fly even more.  Listen for some Deep Purple right in the middle of “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget”, and some Rainbow on “Crystal Ball” too.

Yngwie produced Live in Leningrad himself, and it’s a rather shrill affair with obvious backing tapes on some of the choruses like “Heaven Tonight”.  The problem with many Yngwie albums is that you can only listen to so much before ear fatigue sets in.  Live in Leningrad is one such album.  By the end your brain is exhausted and you have to listen to something from a different end of the spectrum.  Even Joe Lynn Turner can’t blunt the aural razorblade effect.

3/5 stars

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25 comments

  1. Man the guitar solo on this is unlistenable. Is it as bad as C.C.’s from Swallow this Live? Don’t know, but the fact that has to be asked sums it up.

    Joe Lynn Turner is so underrated, probably because he’s usually been a replacement singer. I love all three albums he did with Rainbow, the Deep Purple album, and Odyssey is easily Yngwie’s best and most song oriented album. I thought it was hilarious when Malmstain claimed last year that none of his singers contributed anything when Joe has a writing credit on every single song on Odyssey, barring the pretentious instrumentals. You can’t tell me Joe didn’t come up with the melodies, and all the lyrics, because both the melody and lyrics are head and shoulders bether than anything Singvay could come up with on his own. Jeff Scott Soto was a badass too. Marching Out is his second best. This is an okay live album, would have been better without Yngwie Vinnie Vincenting all over the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I looove JSS and when he was in Journey briefly. Guy is awesome. Wish I had his voice.

      And yes JLT is underrated and I agree with why.

      I think CC’s solo is far worse personally.

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  2. Great, informative review of an album I don’t know. But the real surprise here is the teaching (or maybe the ignorance that created the need for the remedial instruction): I’ve had Odyssey forever and I never realized until reading this that Joe Lynn Turner was the vocalist (and I’m a JLT fan!). Probably down to the simple fact that, while I’m firmly pro-Yngwie, I just don’t listen to his albums much anymore… maybe a perfect reflection of your astute comment that you can only listen to so much before ear fatigue sets in.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s true. I have the Yngwie “best of” album and it is enjoyed best one side at a time. Take a break. Listening to something else in between to give your ears a rest. Maybe something acoustic and strummy. Yngwie never strums….

      I’m glad to be the one to tell you this is JLT!

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  3. I dabbled a bit with this stuff…
    Trilogy a buddy taped for me…I liked it at the time as it was song driven
    The Turner album and this one I bought..
    I quickly shelved them as there was to much silliness with Yngwie and his shredding which at times made my head hurt…
    haha…
    It was over within two years 1986-1988 with Malmsteem in my world…

    I will add that my brother bought Eclipse with that great track Bedroom Eyes(think thats what it was)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah Yngwie usually had one or two good songs per album minimum, and I know the ones after JLT had a few decent tracks. But Yngwie, too many singers man! PICK ONE. I haven’t heard the album he did with Ripper Owens.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I had this on cassette, as well as the VHS. I was a fan of Yngwie early on. Got into him through my older brother after hearing “I Am A Viking” on a metal compilation. ‘Odyssey’ was the last album I really liked of his. But like 1537 mentioned, ear fatigue began to settle in for me around 1989. Still, I did quite enjoy watching the Leningrad concert. Pompous for sure, but he could back it up.

    Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure ear fatigue is not my original concept, I am sure I read about it somewhere. But I’m glad to pass along this knowledge. At Sausagefest they kept saying “We don’t need Google, we have Encyclopedia Ladano.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve actually only started to check out some Yngwie stuff. I was initially thinking “oh aye”, but I get the ear fatigue… it’s real… very much a case of guitar for guitar sake and not the song’s. Still, I still want a copy of Trilogy… even for the artwork alone.

    Liked by 1 person

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