Do the Albums I Loved as a Teenager Still Move Me Today?
In the first of my "re-reviews" I look back at the 1985 Yngwie J. Malmsteen album "Marching Out."
THE WHY: I was recently archiving my music collection onto my PC when I made a shocking discovery. I was surprised to realize just how many albums were there to which I hadn't listened in well over fifteen years, and of those, how many were, at one time, some of my absolute favorites. Rather than simply shrug my shoulders and go on with life, I decided to blow the dust off of some of these relics of my youth and see if they still moved me in the same way they moved my 17 year old self. I then, being a bit of a narcissist, decided that other people would be interested in my findings, so I decided to start a series of retroactive album reviews of these articles from my musical hope chest. If I were going to do this, however, I had to have rules, a process. I must listen to the entire album, in one sitting. When I wrote the review, I would give some background on the albums release and its initial impact on me. I would then state my conclusions and give a final verdict. Rather than the usual 1-10 or 1-5 scale used for reviews, I would go with a simple three-way gauge: is the album worse, as good as, or better than I remember it.
THE ALBUM: Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force - Marching Out (1985)
THE BACKGROUND: In the mid-1980's there was a movement in the Rock world which featured virtuoso musicianship inspired by the composers of the Baroque period, such as Bach, Vivaldi and Paganini. This movement became known as "Neo-Classical", or sometimes "Bach and Roll." Albums featured numerous intrumental pieces, frequently with extended guitar solos played at lightning speed. Most of the purveyors of this type of music would suffer from having an "all technique, no soul" feeling to their work, but Yngwie J. Malmsteen managed to rise above this. He was the first and best at this type of high energy heavy metal, and he spent a good amount of time atop my turn-table. "Marching Out" was his second album with his band Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force.
THE TRACK LIST:
2. I'll See the Light Tonight
3. Don't Let it End
4. Disciples of Hell
5. I Am a Viking
6. Overture 1383
7. Anguish and Fear
8. On the Run Again
9. Soldier Without Faith
10. Caught in the Middle
11. Marching Out
THE REVIEWY PART: This album begins with the one minute long "Prelude" which, properly belongs as the first minute of the second track, "I'll See the Light Tonight." "Prelude" is basically a long crescendo of a low bass tone with some eerie guitar wails on specific notes which builds tension and anticipation for the explosive drum and guitar riff which begins "I'll See the Light Tonight" proper. "I'll See the Light Tonight" remains, to this day, to be one of Yngwie's most popular songs among his fans, often used as his encore piece during live performances, and there is a reasn why. The opening riff (used in the chorus as well)is so dynamic and percussive I got goose bumps when I played it again for the first time in fifteen years. Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto's voice is perfectly suited to the material here, and Ynwie stays out of his way as he sings the verses. When the chorus hits and the opening riff returns, the vocal melody and the staccato guitar complement one another wonderfully, each filling a different space in the music. The following track, "Don't Let it End," begins with a broken arpeggio common to power ballads of the time. The melody of the song, however, goes to some happily unexpected places, adding a plaintive tension to the piece. The music then changes direction once again with a classical acoustic intro transitioning into the heavy 6/8 rythm of "Disciples of Hell." The album continues in this fashion, with some other highlights being the down-tempo, moody "I am a Viking" and the quiet acoustic title track. This record is a guitar feast.
THE BOTTOM LINE: I had a lot of fun revisiting this album, and "Marching Out" has certainly earned its way back into moderate rotation on my playlist. If you miss the technical guitar of the shred era and value musicianship, this one is certainly worth checking out. If you prefer the current state of Rock and Roll, where everything sounds like either Nickleback or Linkin Park, then I've got nothing for you. This one rates as "AS GOOD AS I REMEMBER IT."