Here is another great band that has not the attention it deserves due to time discovered. Blue Murder can be easily labeled as a super group, with famous musicians, and practicing a heavy and melodic hard rock, and that will please fans of the full phase of the most successful Whitesnake. And this similarity is a valid reason, since the band formed by guitarist John Sykes, fresh out of the group of David Coverdale and acclaimed for the beautiful work presented on two discs in which he participated.
Let’s start with the players. Johnn Sykes is one of the most underrated players in music. He has spent time with Street Fighter, Badlands, Tygers of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake. Tony Franklin has appeared on many albums you may have in your collection. He was in the Firm (with Jimmy Page and Paul Rogers), and played with the likes of Gary Hoey, Tony McAlpine and many others. Finally we come to Carmine Appice. He started with Vanilla Fudge in the 60s, then on to Rod Stewart in the 70S and 80s and landed on this album. In addition, he has done many records as a session drummer and is related to Vinnie Appice of Black Sabbath and Dio fame.
Their self titled debut album released in 1989 and was produced to pompous perfection by none other than Bob Rock, whose golden ears for bombastic yet consumer friendly 80s metal were truly second to none at the time, other than the one and only Mutt Lange, of course. The album is loaded with guitar heavy, metal anthems as well as smooth blues tracks. The songs are simple, memorable, and a blast to listen to. Sykes’ rhythm guitar work, as well as his solos are simply amazing here. Franklin is an innovative bassist and his playing here is perhaps the most intriguing part of this album. Appice has always been a very heavy drummer and prove it for once more. The songwriting is second to none and it changed my view of what music really can do for the mind and soul. The album had minor MTV success with the song “Valley of the Kings” and “Jelly Roll”, but lack of record company support left this album/band dead in the water after a short time.
From the opening riff of “Riot”, through the ballad “Out of Love” and back to “Black-Hearted Woman”, this album turns and burns. I still find myself wondering how he can play that many notes and still sing. To really get a feel for this record, put it in your player and turn it up. Listen to the first song as loud as you can. This is how it was intended to be heard when Bob Rock was producing it. So, “Riot” starts this record has a weight and a lot of melody, and showing that Sykes did not disappoint on vocals and guitar feature in its jurisdiction, and a heavy kitchen needs, would continue so until the end of the disc. “Sex Child” repeats the weight of the first song with a hell of a good soil and vocals Sykes, confirming that it was a good choice to make Sykes put the vocals of the group. “Valley of the Kings” is an eight minute epic that displays all the member’s strengths. Appice sets the pace with a pounding drum beat and Franklin plays in sync with Sykes guitar work, while we meet Tony Martin in the co-writing of the song. The song is very grim and dragged in the weather keyboards Nik Green will be present and give an intensity that comes creeping. The single on the record was “Jelly Roll” and is a classic AOR hit. Although the song is quite good and having cool tune. I believe that doesn’t really blend in with the direction of the other songs very much.
It starts out as a mainstream straight-ahead rocker but then goes into more of a sentimental direction in the middle and continues that way until the end. Blue Murder’s debut album wouldn’t be complete without an eighties metal staple. Nope, it’s not a song about gypsies, it a song named after the group. “Blue Murder” is the best track on the album in my opinion. It has that perfect metal sound which defined that era. Is another song where they come down the arm and not saving in weight, and not to mention the frantic solos that Sykes gives us and the beautiful kitchen work, with the bass lines and drums need to Franklin furious Appice. The sad “Out of Love” is the group obligatory power ballad and one of the highlights of the disc, which again presents us with Sykes soils laden with emotion and sings with gusto. In “Billy” the guitars scream and forcefully presented the riffs are really cool. “Ptolemy” has a nice blend of blues and metal. Starts out very serene and then explodes with fury. John Sykes’ guitar work is magnetic and exciting, filled with fast solos and the party will make those who like heavy, because this is a bit heavier that the front and “Black-Hearted Woman” close the work with a hard fast and furious, and that ends the album in the best way possible.
If you missed this album in the 80s and you’re a fan of 80s hard rock/metal, buy it, now. If you were too young in the 80s and are now just getting into that style of music, buy it, now. The guitar tone alone is worth buying this album for. It’s like biting into a big, fat, juicy hamburger with the juices dribbling down your chin and all over your hands. It permeates the very essence of senses. Hope you enjoyed this review, it is a little lengthy but as you can tell this album means a lot to me, and I wanted to make sure I did it justice in my review.
John Sykes – Guitars, vocals, backing vocals
Tony Franklin – Bass, backing vocals
Carmine Appice – Drums, backing vocals
Nik Green – Keyboards
Mark LaFrance, David Steele – Backing vocals
2. Sex Child
3. Valley of the Kings
4. Jelly Roll
5. Blue Murder
6. Out of Love
9. Black-Hearted Woman
Review by http://melodic-hardrock.com