Fretbored

yngwie_fenderA lot of people don’t remember, but learning guitar in the ’90s, nobody knew how to shred, nobody taught you how to shred, and nobody else listened to metal. Those were the breaks. Times were hard, people were mean, guitarists were terrible. You found random snippets of guitar playing goodness on the infantile internet and that was it. Everyone else was playing Nirvana, 311, Everclear, Soundgarden, and other angsty goodness. Oh, and nobody liked you. That last part was pivotal. In fact, it still is.

Yngwie Malmsteen is pretty much famous for one album and one song, <a href="Rising Force“> and “Far Beyond the Sun” respectively. The dude’s put out some decent stuff since then, but it’s all basically the same and isn’t as raw or fresh as his first album. Actually, for most of the ’90s his stuff wasn’t selling in the US very much and you had to import his albums until the late ’90s. It wasn’t until Facing the Animal that Yngwie’s stuff started reappearing stateside (his old albums were still available, but his ’90s stuff wasn’t). Of course, it’s not like Yngwie changed a whole lot in this period. Besides, after the first few albums, he couldn’t hold a candle to some of the better Shrapnel shred.

But Yngwie the man is so strange. He’s kind of like the Gene Simmons of shred or something. You know, an obscene ego, did a few moderately cool things early on, and despite all his money and vanity he can’t keep off the ghoulish middle-age weight. Although Yngwie still knows how to dress and play, he kinda creeps me out. The guitar keeps getting smaller and smaller! And his fingers are beginning to look like German sausages. It’s really fascinating to watch them move so dexterously across the fretboard.

There are a bunch of versions of “Far Beyond the Sun” on Youtube, including one from his concerts with the Japanese Philharmonic Orchestra. Ahaha! Nothing spells depression like watching a bunch of classically trained orchestral musicians play minimalist backseat, background music for an egomanical heavy metal guitar player. Yet this goes on a lot — so many bands were pulling that trick a few years ago… The Scorpions, Metallica, Yngwie, Steve Vai… (To be fair, some of Yngwie’s best recent compositions were for his orchestral album, and The Scorpions one was really great!). It’s a totally weird phenomenon how orchestras are used in pop music these days. Like those video-game music concerts. (Zelda just ends up sounding like Star Wars!)

Still good for a spin:

Yngwie on the G3 Tour

But don’t take my word for it:

Shamisen

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~ by chaosrexmachinae on December 3, 2008.

One Response to “Fretbored”

  1. Great post…
    I am old enough to know about shredding, but was not smert enough to listen and learn. Now, I am fighting an up-hill battle.

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