Play Yard Blues review by John Norum

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  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.6 (13 votes)
John Norum: Play Yard Blues

Sound — 8
John Norum is a man who, along with his ex band-mates of Europe, grew up (as a musician) through the 70's, most likely drawing ideas from the likes of Zeppelin, Rainbow, Free or even Deep Purple (Whitesnake is evident too). If this is the case, which I suspect it may be, then all these influences really show through within this album. The structures, playing styles, rhythms and movements reflect the 70's hard-rock era perfectly. The album is littered with riffs, on every track ("Red Light, Green High", "It's Only Money"... Well, I might as well just list every track). Riff Rock, a very 70's hard-rock concept, keeps the album pumping, something you can really rock out to. Norum, as a guitarist, is phenominal. His rhythm work is faultless and the lead work that he produces is mind-blowing. Just listening to "Let It Shine" and a lot of the other tracks makes you feel as though he should be respected a lot more; possibly more so than Moore, Malmstein or, at a puch, Vai. The melodic, legato way that he plays some tracks is great, but then he can 'shred' and play metal/harmony guitar licks better than most could these days. The band behind him are pretty solid. The drums are as tight as Paul McCartney's wallet, the bass feels pretty strong (though not very creative - just following what the guitar's doing) and keyboards are used tastefully. The way the actual songs are written is quite effective too. The riff thing doesn't always take over the entire song, which is good as it would get quite annoying, quite quickly. The only real problem I have with the music of this album is that there's little depth in terms of dynamics/tempo. All the songs seem to be around a similar speed, similar theme etc. Well, with the exception of "Born Again" - a pure metal piece. Sounds quite reminiscent of Norum's years in Europe, in some ways.

Lyrics — 5
The lyrics that Norum has produced for this album, I've gotta say, aren't great. They feel extremely un-inspired. This is made up for a little bit by Norum's vocals, as he isn't a bad singer. He has the right voice for this kind of music, I think. And the harmony vocals? He uses them effectively and only where needed. I do feel, however, that his vocals aren't always pushed to their full potential. They feel quite monotonous at points, with little power behind them.

Overall Impression — 8
I think there's a lot of people out there who will enjoy this album. The rock genre has lacked a real riffing artist for some time now. There's always the odd band that try it out, but never seem to measure up to the kind of stuff that was produced 30-or-so years ago. Is this a must for rock fans? Maybe. Like I said, if you're really into riffs, or if you're a guitar freak who loves to listen to faultless guitar lines for hours. Basically... If you like the kind of stuff by 70's artists that I've mentioned, or even Whitesnake and Ozzy (to a mild extent, anyway), then you might as well look this up.

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    John Norum? I haven't heard of that guy for a while! I have to check this stuff out since his work on Europe was quite enjoyable too.
    Whiskey Tango
    For some other great Norum check out Don Dokken's solo album, Up From The Ashes. Another great guitarist on the album, Billy White.
    A good album by one of the better known Swedish Guitarists. It has alot of influences from 60-70's blues-rock. Especially It's Only Money where he does sound alot like Hendrix.
    belavista man
    Chronologo wrote: Malmstein??? LOL. Gotta check out this album, Norum is a great musician
    I was trying to connect to the population of this site. It seems if there isn't a metal guitarist mentioned, interest is lost on this site.