After battling to make a name for himself on the small Polydor label, Yngwie Malmsteen finally got the big label deal in 1992 with the release of “Fire And Ice” on Elektra. While the album did great business in the Japanese and Eastern/Northern Europe market, it failed in the U.S.
The million plus dollar advance from the label was classed as “unable to be recouped” and he was dropped from Elektra.
One door closes another one opens. A Japanese company called Pony Canyon signed Malmsteen. “The Seventh Sign” came out in 1994, achieving a Platinum certification in Japan, followed by “Magnum Opus” in 1995 which received a Gold Certification in Japan.
“Inspiration” is the ninth studio album by guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, released on 14 October 1996.
Malmsteen was back to releasing an album a year, in order to remain relevant and in the public conversation during the hostile 90s. If he didn’t do that, obscurity was not too far away. Artists these days whinge about Spotify and how they believe that the service is making them release constant product. It’s not the service, it’s the market. The market demands constant product. It always did.
Yngwie Malmsteen on guitars/bass and Anders Johansson on drums play on every track. The rest is a cast of artists like Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Lynn Turner, Marcel Jacob and various keyboard players.
Carry On Wayward Son
Written by Kerry Livgren.
It shows the reach Kansas had, so that a kid from Sweden would consider the band as an influence.
Jeff Scott Soto is on vocals here and his Talisman buddy, Marcel Jacob is on bass. David Rosenthal is on keyboards. During this same period, Malmsteen also appeared on a Talisman release. A sort of, “scratch my back and I will scratch yours” type of agreement.
Malmsteen makes the song sound like an over-indulgent Malmsteen song with his over the top soloing on any part of the song that doesn’t have vocals.
Pictures of Home
It wouldn’t be an influence album for Malmsteen if there was no Ritchie Blackmore. Malmsteen’s poses and looks are straight from “The Look Of Blackmore”. This is the first of four Blackmore songs. Joe Lynn Turner is on vocals here, who also sang on Malmsteen’s most successful album “Odyssey”. Mats Olausson is on the keys.
The lead breaks are Malmsteen lead breaks full of legato runs and of course, sweep picking. A lot of sweep picking.
Gates of Babylon
From Rainbow and Jeff Scott Soto is on vocals here. His voice and tone is perfect for the song. David Rosenthal plays the keys here.
The song would not be out of place on a Malmsteen album. The riffs are already what Malmsteen plays and as soon as he throws in his sweep picking and fast classical legato lines, it’s basically a Malmsteen song.
From Jimi Hendrix and like his idol, Malmsteen is on lead vocals. I suppose for all the shredding, Malmsteen doesn’t get credit for being a pretty crazy blues player. Vocally, he doesn’t have the swagger of Hendrix.
In the Dead of Night
From the band U.K., the song is written by Eddie Jobson and John Wetton. Mark Boals is on lead vocals here with Jens Johansson on keyboards. And for those who don’t know John Wetton, he’s appeared in King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash and Asia.
But the reason why this track is here is due to Allan Holdsworth being the guitarist. Holdsworth was an unknown name to me until Eddie Van Halen started mentioning him in his interviews in the mid 80’s, which led me to seek out his solo recordings.
Ty Tabor also mentioned in an interview (which can be found on the Wikipedia entry of the U.K album) that the self-titled U.K album is in his “5 Essential Guitar Albums” list, stating that he “had never heard anybody think about playing guitar the way that Holdsworth plays on that record.”
Holdsworth never got mainstream attention. Producers and label heads called his music “without direction”, however to guitarists he was like a god.
You can hear the melodic rock side of Malmsteen here with a bit of progressiveness and how songs like “You Don’t Remember” and “Judas” with the keys and guitars playing great riffs that complement each other.
The solo break groove is excellent, however Malmsteen this time is just too much on the speed, and it just doesn’t fit the groove.
Press play on this track first.
From the David Coverdale era of Deep Purple.
This is the third Blackmore track to appear on this.
Would Malmsteen have covered this, knowing that Coverdale wrote the main riff?
Regardless, the song is perfect for soloing and Malmsteen uses that opportunity to do just that. But if I had to pick a cover version, it is the Whitesnake version with Reb Beach soloing. That solo just hits all the right notes.
Jeff Scott Soto is on vocals here with Mats Olausson on keyboards.
On this version, press play to hear the solo that comes in at the 4.20 minute mark. Malmsteen harmonises, its bluesy like “Still Got The Blues” and I like it.
Also stick around for the ending. It’s excellent. Soto really shines here, as he adds in backing vocals that sound like Gospel vocals and while they are happening he is ad libbing his main vocal while Malmsteen is throwing every lick he knows to the Master Tape.
The Sails of Charon
Another guitar player that influenced Malmsteen heavily was Uli Jon Roth, so it’s no surprise that his most classical sounding metal song with the Scorpions is covered.
Mark Boals is on lead vocals here and does a great job on the vocals, however Malmsteen just solo’s way too much here.
Joe Lynn Turner is on vocals here with Jens Johansson on keyboards. I like how Malmsteen included bluesy Deep Purple here and still added his classical licks with bluesy Chuck Berry’isms.
From Rush and Mark Boals sizzles on lead vocals here.
The pace of this song screams energy and I like it. And goddamn it sounds so heavy.
Child in Time
Mark Boals does an excellent job on lead vocals again with David Rosenthal on the keys.
The keys actually take the lead here (i.e. they basically sound like Malmsteen is playing them), carrying the intro and verses. Malmsteen cranks in right when the ohh’s start.
Overall there are six main guitarists that serve as inspiration to Malmsteen. Ritchie Blackmore, Jimi Hendrix, Uli Jon Roth. Alex Lifeson, Kerry Livgren and Alan Holdsworth. Pretty cool inspirations if you ask me.
While the massive North American market still had its back turned to Malmsteen along with the U.K and parts of Western Europe, the Japanese, Scandinavian Countries and Eastern Europe markets kept sustaining him.
If you want to hear two songs from this album, press play on “In The Dead Of Night” and “Mistreated”.