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YNGWIE MALMSTEEN
Odyssey


Polydor (1988)
Rating: 6.5/10


Probably the most interesting and least known fact about this album is that Joe Lynn Turner wears a wig. Bet you didn’t know that ay boys and girls? Well, although there may not be as much hair here as it may at first appear, there are quite a few hairy moments to grab the attention, mainly when Inky sprints hell for leather down his guitar neck.

Yes, it may be in a more commercial format, but Yngwie’s playing dominates in as much the same fashion as it did the earlier Rising Force recordings. And while we’re on the subject of Malmsteen’s pre-pubescent doodlings on guitar, how come there is so much archive material bolstering the newer numbers? The original version of ‘Far Beyond The Sun’ (a totally different song, with lyrics, that appeared on his initial 1980 demos) resurfaces as the main theme for ‘Krakatau’, and ‘Riot In The Dungeons’ must be of similar age. For a new album, this smells pretty old to me with old riffs rising Frankenstein-like from the dead.

There are a brace of nifty numbers onboard however which are recent compositions; the driving urgency of ‘Déjà Vu’ being one of the better examples, and with ‘Crystal Ball’ avoiding any ‘I Am A Viking’ absurdities to benefit from an inspired vocal melody from the chap with half a cat on his head.

Jens and Anders Johansson supply their usual faultless performance, highly underrated these two, on an album which sees Yngwie taking note from his critics who constantly nag the man to pursue a far more “pop” career. Personally, I prefer the massive explosion of sound that was the debut Rising Force album to this blatant stab at general acceptance.

Detracting from the generally higher quality songs is ol’ Yngwie himself. His solos, though technically top notch, are ominously sequestered by anything new and exciting. There’s even a straight Jimi Hendrix take off to illustrate this point; maybe Malmsteen’s well of inspiration has run dry?

Ostensibly, Yngwie is targeting radio play as opposed to guitar histrionics, but I wonder how far he can go in this lucrative direction while hanging onto his obsession for speed.

A good album, but not quite deserving of the “all time classic” tag most magazines appear to hang quite happily around its neck. I tried to think of something witty to round off with on the subject of wigs, but I’m afraid, unlike Joe, I haven’t got my thinking cap on today!

Garry Sharpe-Young

Review taken from Metal Forces, Issue 28 (1988)