Blue Murder: John Sykes (vocals, guitar); Tony Franklin (bass, background vocals); Carmine Appice (drums, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Nik Green (keyboards); Mark LaFrance, David Steele (background vocals).
Recorded at Little Mountain Sound, Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1988 & 1989.
After helping singer David Coverdale reinvent Whitesnake both sonically and aesthetically for the image-conscious American market, guitar hero John Sykes acrimoniously left the group when it became apparent that there was only room enough for one overblown ego in it: Coverdale's. Hardly ones to let a good thing slip away, though, the executives at Whitesnake's label, Geffen Records (specifically A&R super-guru John Kalodner), immediately signed Sykes to a new development deal and proceeded to aid and abet him in founding his own supergroup, Blue Murder, with veteran bassist Tony Franklin and nearly geriatric drummer Carmine Appice (whose career probably started before Sykes was even born!). Released in 1989, the power trio's eponymous debut was produced to pompous perfection by none other than Bob Rock, whose golden ears for bombastic yet consumer-friendly '80s metal were truly second to none at the time -- other than the one and only Mutt Lange, of course. And perhaps more than any of Rock's jobs prior to his hook-up with Metallica, Blue Murder proves it, thanks to songs ranging from muscular power-chord hell-fests like "Riot" and "Blue Murder"; to blues-inflected fare like "Jelly Roll" (whose video was soon all over MTV); to the all-important, overly lush (and frankly not all that good) power ballad "Out of Love." But the album has also become rather dated over the years, because of its frequent indulgence in the same sort of unchecked, peroxide-fueled "Bad Zeppelin-isms" that were then being shamelessly appropriated by bands like Kingdom Come and Sykes' own former boss, David Coverdale, and the reborn Whitesnake. As such, prime offenders like the gratuitously preening "Sex Child," the impressively epic "Valley of the Kings," and the disappointingly tepid "Ptolemy" abused this ethically flawed (if unquestionably effective, from a sales standpoint) gimmick at its most grotesquely histrionic -- but no more so than any of the other groups cited above, really. And because Blue Murder's songwriting was relatively consistent and their musicianship beyond reproach throughout, it's easy to understand why this album has endured far better than most similarly styled heavy metal albums of the era. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia