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Blue Murder - 1989 Blue Murder



ARTIST: Blue Murder
ALBUM: Blue Murder
LABEL: Geffen
SERIAL: 9 24212-2
YEAR: 1989
CD REISSUE: 2012, Universal (Japan), UICY 25162

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: John Sykes - guitars, lead vocals, background vocals * Tony Franklin - bass guitars, background vocals * Carmine Appice - drums, background vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Riot * 02 Sex Child * 03 Valley Of The Kings * 04 Jelly Roll * 05 Blue Murder * 06 Out Of Love * 07 Billy * 08 Ptolemy * 09 Black Hearted Woman

WEBLINKS: www.johnsykes.com


Background
Is there an instance of an album that is just too good to be rewarded with mass commercial success? Is the general listening public unreceptive to quality? Or was the failure of an album (in terms of what had gone before in terms of an artist's output) that it didn't have that all important slash and bang of 240 seconds all wrapped up in one song? Or maybe an artist got so involved in what they were doing that he forgot who he was providing a service for. Look at the evidence here, 7 out of 9 are nearing or over the 5 minute mark, yes I am fully aware that 'Still Of The Night' measured 6 minute plus, an ultra-marathon in terms of a pop song, but it was only one song, 'Is This Love' and 'Here I Go Again' were all songs that had the habit of a hit single. 14 years later the situation has not really changed as I picked up a CD version (have I become so lazy that I would rather buy the CD, rather than walking up the stairs to my room to play my vinyl copy?) from an Amazon trader for just over a pound, and 7 were still in stock from the trader. The pressing factory obviously must have added a couple of zero's to the quantity levels by mistake.

So John Sykes had left the good ship Whitesnake before the album 1987 was actually released, and it took a further two years before he had his next product entered onto the merry-go-round of public opinion. A trio of experts, this time Sykes provided vocals as well as his usual paymaster being the guitar, Carmine Appice on drums, who seemed to have affected Ozzy Osbourne's health in his short tenure on the crazy train, I think the quote was 'he made me feel sick', anybody remember the frosty atmosphere between the two when interviewed on The Tube in 1983 promoting 'Bark At The Moon'? plus we find Tony Franklin once of The Firm holding the bottom. Is it better than '1987'? Nope. Was it better than 'Slip Of The Tongue'? No question about that, you see I feel that Sykes actually gave more of a boost to David, than even the likes of Tawny Kitaen! (in total agreement there! Ed). Retracing my steps I have no issue with Sykes vocal display as it is very good and convincing, probably the best vocalist the old Tiggers (Tygers Of Pang Tang) ever had and alas never used. I bet DC can't play guitar to the standard as Sykes manages to reach with his voice.


The Songs
The towering solos that featured in 'Riot' are the same height of The Shard building in London, and providing more reflection and brightness than the glass covering this new landmark.

It's not long into 'Sex Child' that the imagery of 'Still Of The Night' comes into view. This is very distinct in the drum solo which seems to be repeating itself from that said track; actually the drum crescendo manages to pop up numerous times in the album. Lyric wise it is straight out the Coverdale annual and as it progresses it becomes more risqu? than an Ann Summers sale, and John is becoming far too fruity for my liking. I slip away quietly and give my apologies and excuses (just like a Sun newspaper reporter exposing another sordid story) and make a swift exit, I understand how Father Ted and his fellow priests felt being trapped in the largest lingerie department in Ireland. Great track though.

My blushes are spared with 'In The Valley Of The Kings' this has the melodic spring well and truly flowing. This track emphasises what Gary Hughes always strived to achieve but in my opinion always fell short. A bit like all the England football managers in the last 40 years. It's epic; it's a free flowing assault on those poor defenceless instruments. It has passion and an immense feeling that I got when I heard 'One Night In The City' from Dio's The Last In Line for the first time. I suppose you thought that my compass may have been pointed towards the 'Egypt' song from that album, but my geography connections have never been that strong.

I think you would be hard pressed to convince anyone that John Sykes is one the most original musicians that has set foot in the rock universe, it obvious though this album has Whitesnake issues and contains the Led Zeppelin minerals that make up 'Jelly Roll', but I don't remember Zeppelin being that fluid as Sykes has managed to manufacture in this tune.

John seems to be reveling in his new found independence, control if you like, delete which you feel is appropriate. The great tracks on this album are beginning to be stack as high as you would find old Citroen cars in a scrapyard.

Yes, most of the songs do seem to be hemorrhaged in length, not 3 minute rounds here, and by the time most tracks finished, Roger Bannister would be half into his second mile. The title track is a real gallop through hard rock history. Robust, strong, surfaced with a metallic glean straight from a heavyweight JCB roller. Scorching hysterics on the guitars, in fact guitar sirens and you actually hear the bass guitar on maneuvers. The gathering of evidence of whether this is a great album is starting to stack up.

Some much needed reflection is provided by 'Out Of Love', it's not a step brother to 'Is This Love', yes it's a ballad but totally independent from that marriage song spoiler. It stands alone and is a great tune. It plays the host to lost love perfectly.

'Billy (Public Enemy #1)' makes a mark (and it's not a stud mark just below the knee, courtesy of the legend Billy Bremner, Leeds Utd captain in the 70's) as it did on me all those years ago when I could be found cruising in my green Vauxhall Astra, with those blacked out headlights. My borderline was Milton Keynes (that's as far it would get before breaking down) while the borderline John sings about must be a lot further and more adventurous than roundabout city Milton Keynes. It's a purring melodic joyride.

As desperate as the radio cricket commentary due to longs delays due to the weather, by now they would had ran out of ways to explain the rain, better resort to plan B and discuss Bill Lawry's pigeon (aka Billy Birmingham). Much as I feel about 'Ptolemy' except of course of the bullseye moment on the song, being the pronunciation of 'Ptolemy'. It's the arm and hand pointing to the sky moment, especially if you are wearing some stripy trousers and where everything stops. Yes a groovy number but pretty much nondescript. Now there is not usually much call in glorydazemusic for a discussion of the meaning of words but really I need Dr Brian Cox (once the keyboardist of AORsters Dare) to explain the meaning of the word 'Ptolemy' because the more I read about it and compare this to the lyrics I am still none the wiser, all wrapped up in a Greek God or a theory about the earth being the centre of the universe.

Last up is 'Black Hearted Woman', rather than long haired women that Unruly Child once sang about. Really it's another Whitesnake thrash along, (call it thrash along with Johnny and Davy?) but with a melodic heart shown in the pre-chorus which is very accessible, which does have a Rainbow feel, although buried quite deeply, but not as inaccessible as the gold at the end.


In Summary
I never saw John Sykes with the original Thin Lizzy or his more recent tenure, which basically was just a tribute band, although I am led to believe by my cousin, always favoured the current line up with Ricky Warwick. But as a young 13 year old my parents took me to see Whitesnake at Wembley Arena. What a line up, Cozy Powell, Jon Lord and of course Mr Coverdale, all vying for your attention but I do remember Sykes being very much the young buck who did impress. You see all these years later, rock music is something you never grow out of, bit like supporting dodgy football teams and the thought of starting to collect 70's Topps football cards again seems very much appealing. A second Blue Murder album called 'Nothin But Trouble' was released in 1993, another attempt of epic signature tunes and a slight change in direction on some but I lost interest and it seems so did everyone else. I have started to play it again, maybe time is a great healer and better than I thought, I'll let you know the outcome. Since 1987 and this album, I really don't think Sykes got anywhere near fulfilling the potential he obvious has or did he become like that once great Dutch defender, Winston Bogarde who signed for Chelsea and seemed quite happy seeing out his lucrative contract training with the under 18's (that's quite a remarkable story if you have time to research). John, it must be time to relight the fire and if that means working with Coverdale then so be it. Surely this is the next big reunion.


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Comments
#1 | AOR Lee on March 17 2013 07:09:15
This was all over magazines like Hit Parader at the time. Curious to hear it again after reading this
#2 | gdazegod on March 17 2013 13:49:14
YouTube Video:
#3 | gdazegod on March 17 2013 13:53:15
YouTube Video:
#4 | englandashes on March 17 2013 13:58:44
Nice one George, what an era, big songs, big videos and big hair!
#5 | reyno-roxx on March 17 2013 18:32:10
A great album. Although by all accounts a commercial failure, I still think Sykes made the right choice in becoming the lead vocalist after original choice Ray Gillen left to do the Badlands project and rehearsals with Mark Free (at Appice's recommendation) didn't work out.
#6 | gdazegod on March 17 2013 20:19:07
I agree Reyno. Sykes has a great voice!
#7 | sabace on March 21 2013 14:54:50
yea good stuff!
#8 | Metal Loaf on June 18 2013 22:56:34
'Jelly Roll' has always been one of the stand-out tracks for me, oddly enough. While I enjoy the acoustic riffing and the call and response vocals, what sells it for me is that big moment when Appice smashes in with this simple, terrific four on the floor beat.

That being said, the ballad section drags it down a bit; it's just too damn long, in my opinion.
 
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