YNGWIE MALMSTEEN - THE GENESIS (PONY CANYON)
Suppose god (or, God, if you will) released a book entitled "Before the Bible - The Pre-Creation Days" or "Before the Times of Light - And You Thought Adam and Eve were treated Tough?". Throngs of devoted christians would flock to bookstores to get their zealot hands on said tomes. They would pour over the pages, attempting to twist a word or two into good excuses for homophobia, discrimination of women, owning multiple guns, or even starting a war on Terrorism/Iraq/Whatever. Most religions in the world are about oppression, opportunism, nepotism and discrimination, so the aforesaid would logically result from that (I doubt if "opportunism" is an actual English word, however if it isn't then it damn well ought to be).
Oops. Got off on one of my usual anti-religion rants there. The reason is logical. Who thinks of Yngwie thinks of god (or God, whatever), and when I think of god (...) that inevitably triggers the rebellious side of me. I am not sure I'm sorry.
God (or Yngwie, whatever) released a CD of his early recordings in December last year. Because of my occasionally impatient nature I immediately ordered the Japanese version, my being loath to wait for a European release.
Years ago I had already received a tape with some old Malmsteen demos on there. The tape slowly demagnetised, Tsjernobyl happened, life changed. I mislaid the tape. I was kindof hoping to find most of those demos on Malmsteen's "demos and rarities" CD, "The Genesis". I was not disappointed. In fact, every single track I recalled surfaced on "The Genesis". The CD showcases a young, energetic and very eager Yngwie who plays his guts out. It is very nice to hear what he sounded like in 1980, which is when he says the recordings on the first 6 tracks were made. Much of the stuff later resurfaced on official recordings, in particular "Odyssey" and "Eclipse" as far as I can hear. A bit in "Krakatau", a bit here, a bit there. Fragments, mind you, and it's quite a puzzle challenge to identify the songs they ultimately ended up in. The main difference with the old bootleg tapes floating around, except for somewhat better sound quality, is that Yngwie re-recorded the bass. I am afraid this is the main reason for the abundance of low end in the mix. Oddly, "Black Magic Suite Op. 3" has some short tape speed variations (perhaps it's wow, perhaps it's flutter, I am not much of a recording technician) that result in involuntary pitch bends. I do not recall these at all from the bootleg tape I once had. I can't imagine these escaping Yngwie's attention, what with his perfect pitch and all. But he wasn't able to notice or fix them, and it's a bit of a dent on this particular recording. Yngwie sings on several tracks, which clearly proves why he needs to bother with actual singers in his band...
Apart from these remastered old demo tracks, "The Genesis" comes with a less than 2 minute spoken message (god sounds quite bored and resigned, actually, maybe he was tired) and two further tracks. These two further tracks are more recent. "On a Serious Note" is from 1997 and contains some good acoustic and electric guitar work, however it's backed by a terrible drum computer with completely stupid drum fills and a much too loud snare. "Voodoo Child" is a jam that I suspect is from a really recent date. Like "Freedom Isn't Free" on Yngwie's latest ("Attack!", 2002), it contains totally overplayed bass and totally overplayed guitar. Ans trust Yngwie to pull it off to make vocals sound at once totally oversung and horrible slurred. It's a jam, however there's a drum computer under all of it. Here, the drum fills are horrible as well. Drum Computers Do Not Rule. In fact, the overall production on the more recent 2 tracks isn't much better than those on the 1980 tracks.
Am I disappointed? Hm, not really. A little, maybe. I would like to have some Powerhouse and Silver Mountain stuff instead of the rather superfluous more recent tracks. Remember, this is not a freebie or cheap fan club CD or something, it's a full price album. Bands like Dream Theater give away truly excellent free CDs on a yearly basis if you're member of their fan club, including non-album tracks, rare live recordings and cool covers. I feel "The Genesis" should have been such a CD. It is very interesting and will put a stop to the inferior-quality bootlegs out there...but only to the fans of his old work (such as I).
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Written January 2003
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