John Sykes - Bad Boy Live! 2005 Pro-Rock Productions
1. Bad Boys 2. We All Fall Down 3. Cold Sweat 4. Crying In The Rain 5. Jelly Roll 6. Is This Love 7. Look In His Eyes 8. I Don't Wanna Live My Life Like You 9. Please Don't Leave Me 10. Still Of The Night 11.Thunder & Lightning
John Sykes is a guy I looked up to, at least subconsciously, long before I understood what went into making a guitar hero. Like many of my peers, I caught the “hair-metal” explosion of the 1980’s at an early age, and Whitesnake’s self-titled 1987 release was one of the first rock albums I ever owned. Several years later, my respect for the man’s searing fretwork grew when learned of his ill-fated but noble contribution to the legendary Thin Lizzy, during that band’s troubled final days. It is a testament to Sykes’ longevity (not to mention his early start in the biz) that when I met him after a spectacular Thin Lizzy reunion gig a couple of years ago, he looked almost exactly the same as he did on the back cover of the Tygers Of Pan Tang’s Spellbound, his 1981 recording debut.
Thankfully, John’s latest offering, Bad Boy Live, finds him sounding as exuberant and gloriously flashy as his eternally youthful appearance would have you hope. Recorded during his recent solo tour of Japan (between marathon tours with the new-look Lizzy), the album features the one-time Thin Lizzy 2k rhythm section of Marco Mendoza and Tommy Aldridge, plus ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian, zipping through a pleasant, slick lineup of Sykes, Blue Murder, Whitesnake and Lizzy cuts. There are fadeouts between most of the songs, and audience interaction is at a minimum, consisting mostly of Sykes expressing his desire for his Japanese fans to “sing on this one!”(With some gracious thank-you’s toward the end!) The drum sound could use a little more punch, and Sherinian’s keys are barely audible on some songs. The performance, however, is pure, consummate, old-school hard rock professionalism all the way, with flawless execution, tight sound and just the right amount of spontaneous live energy. Particularly electrifying are Whitesnake’s “Bad Boys,” Sykes’ own punky anthem “I Don’t Wanna Live My Life Like You,” and the Lizzy numbers, among them a surprise inclusion of the long-lost Sykes/ Lynott ballad “Please Don’t Leave Me.” The ‘Snake’s “Is This Love” seems a somewhat awkward selection; strange to hear Sykes sing it in light of his less-than-rosy relationship with Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale. Speaking of that storied collaboration, “Still Of The Night” cranks, roars and wails just as one would expect, with an added dose of Sykes’ tasty shredding where Coverdale’s overblown vocal antics once reigned.
Those familiar with the Blue Murder catalog may find this release a bit redundant, as it covers some of the same territory as the Screaming Blue Murder live album. However, the addition of the more recent Sykes material and a couple of Whitesnake chestnuts makes Bad Boy Live an appreciably different animal. Nothing mind-blowing here, but hey, it’s always nice to hear Sykes’ ultra-aggressive but tasteful guitar work, as well as his underrated vocals; especially for someone who bought Whitesnake as a new release (Okay, my mom bought it for me!)… at the ripe old age of ten!
Band Site - www.johnsykes.com
About this Writer: Vinaya Saksena // Vinaya is either a writer who dabbles in guitar playing, or a guitar player who dabbles in writing. A Maximum Metal staffer since 2004, he has also served as a reporter for several newspapers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Although his obsession with music is such that it does not allow time for much else by way of hobbies, he also enjoys traveling, trivia, photography, British comedy and the occasional A-Team re-run.
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