John Norum - Play Yard Blues
Fresh from the success enjoyed by the resurgent Europe with 2009’s Last Look At Eden, guitarist John Norum is back with his seventh solo album. If you are expecting parping synths and ‘The Final Countdown’ then look away now for Norum, who quit Europe in the poodle haired aftermath of their 80s TOTP success, is the archetypal unreconstituted rocker and the patchouli oil fair drips from every groove of this gut shaking album. Think Whitesnake, think Thin Lizzy (he even covers ‘It’s Only Money’ for good measure) but most of all think Gary Moore. Like Moore, Norum, who is now reunited with Tempest and the gang, uses the solo album as a chance to break free from his band and give those under-utilised digits a much needed fretboard workout, spraying out a hail of riffs he’d otherwise struggle to shoehorn into a Europe album. ‘When Darkness Falls’ provides an ideal vehicle for Norum to really cut loose and drop some lightspeed licks into the mix but, despite having once boasted the nickname of Johnny Fastfucker, he’s far from a one dimensional speed merchant; always keeping the blues scale close at hand as his eternal heartfelt touchstone. Elsewhere, such as on the understated ‘Red Light, Green High’, Norum displays an astonishing degree of subtlety, restraint and raw talent which puts him up there with the likes of Knopfler. That, my friends, is a recommendation. If classic rock is in your blood then look beyond your poodle perm prejudice and discover what’s at the heart of Europe.