Inspiration

Yngwie J. Malmsteen

Spitfire Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/13/2000

Have you ever wanted an insight on legendary guitarist Yngwie J. Malmsteen? Have you ever wondered what music helped to shape him into one of the guitar legends of the '80s and beyond?

Okay, maybe not everyone is that deep into Malmsteen's psyche, preferring just to enjoy his music. Malmsteen's 1996 release Inspiration (re-issued on Spitfire recently) takes 10 of the songs that influenced Malmsteen, and gives him a chance to put his own spin on things.

If you own the original release of this disc, you're going to quickly notice that something's missing - namely, Malmsteen's cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Spanish Castle Magic". In its place is a cover of Deep Purple's "Mistreated" - though why this change occurred, I have no idea.nbtc__dv_250

If you pick this disc up expecting to hear note-for-note copies of the original songs, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Malmsteen stays close to the bone, but prefers to put his own spin on these tracks, allowing him to show how the originals shaped him as a guitar player. (We'll get back to this concept shortly.) Malmsteen even takes a turn as lead throat on Hendrix's "Manic Depression" - and, I gotta admit, he does a pretty good job on it.

While it took me a minute to get used to what Malmsteen was trying to accomplish on tracks like "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Child In Time," other tracks like "Pictures Of Home," "Demon's Eye" and "Anthem" all shine, and Malmsteen's personal touches on these tracks are nice changes.

Of course, it helps if you have more than a passing knowledge of classic rock; otherwise you might not appreciate the spins Malmsteen puts on songs by U.K. ("In The Dead Of Night"), or an older selection from The Scorpions ("The Sails Of Charon"). While Malmsteen's take on these songs is enjoyable, sometimes it's hard to uncover just what he's trying to improve on.

The second disc in this set features an in-depth interview with Malmsteen (in which he explains why he didn't want to do note-for-note covers, as we hinted at earlier). Interspersed with this interview (which is fascinating at the start, but peters out near the end) are tracks which only the drooling, obsessive Malmsteen fan dares to own, such as early demos from Rising Force and Powerhouse, Malmsteen's band he formed in 1978 when he still lived in Sweden. Also included is a selection from Malmsteen's Magnum Opus album, "Music Is Melody"... apparently serving as a teaser in case you hadn't gotten around to buying that disc yet. (Quick note: the teaser works... maybe that will be the next Malmsteen disc I review.)

One minor note of contention: I wonder why they chose not to make this interview available in a video format on the CD. They probably could have fit it on using Quicktime or something like that.

While Inspiration seems like it's a disc for Malmsteen's diehard fans, it has more than enough material, music and otherwise, to keep anyone who picks it up happy.

Rating: B+

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Spitfire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.