You Picked It! Blue Murder – ‘Blue Murder’ (1989) – Album Review

Alright…You Picked It! This one was really close. So close in fact that I had a 3-Way tie for first. So I went on to my personal Facebook Page and posted to get a final run at votes and then Blue Murder ran away with it. Since this is the final “You Pick It” post, at least we are going out with a bang.

  1. Blue Murder – ‘Blue Murder’ – 8 votes
  2. The Scream – ‘Let It Scream’ – 6 votes
  3. Diving For Pearls – ‘Diving For Pearls – 5 votes
  4. RTZ – ‘Return to Zero’ – 2 votes
  5. Saigon Kick – ‘Saigon Kick – 1 vote

Thanks to all for participating in this series for the last few years. It has been fun, but it is time to come to an end. Since I am down to 1 Series currently (The Jeff Scott Soto Series) as the Scorpions Series is ending, I am going to start reviewing a bunch of things in my collection until it is time to start the Bon Jovi Series…not sure when that will be but it will be coming some time this Summer. For now, enjoy the Blue Murder review…


With a sudden dismissal from Whitesnake, which is a story all unto itself, John Sykes had a lot to prove. His guitar work was on full display with Whitesnake’s 1987 self-titled album and fans wanted more…me included. John, along with some stellar musicians including Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy) and Tony Franklin (The Firm) formed the band Blue Murder and they brought a bluesy, rock sound that needed to be heard. With Bob Rock as producer and Mike Fraser mixing, damn it was a lethal combination of people,

And it should’ve been heard as critics loved it and his fans as well, but John made a huge mistake in signing with Geffen Records, the same label that his former band, Whitesnake, was signed to as well. Whitesnake was the label’s shining gem. It has been said that David Coverdale wanted this album squashed and it feels like it was as it came and went without much of a whimper, but for fans of John Sykes, it is an incredible masterpiece of guitar wizardry and when you have Carmine and Tony behind you, you know the rhythm section can’t be quite matched by many. Let’s dive right in and get to the music and see if it holds up to the hype…

The atmospheric keyboards, the bass fills and the slow build, then it all explodes and “Riot” sets in. Sykes vocals are actually great and scream rock & roll. The highlight to me is the bass work by Tony, he is slamming it home all night long on this one especially right before the solo…and that solo…damn! Sykes releases his fury as his fingers are blisteringly fast over the strings. A solid opening track and sets the tone on what is to come.

Then that quickly fades with the song “Sex Child” which today wouldn’t hold up with the title alone. This is pure cock rock probable influenced by his time with his former friend David Coverdale. And this was the 80’s and that is what most bands talked about. Musically, I hear Coverdale in some of those vocal stylings he does. Not a bad person to copy, but maybe done in a better way.

The ship gets righted with the next track “Valley of the Kings”. I say ship, because don’t these guys look like pirates in the picture above…ahoy! there mateys! Anyway, back to the music, at just under 8 minutes this song is epic in length and in styling. The tribal drumming at the beginning, the keyboards giving this air of importance and seriousness to it all. Tony Martin co-wrote the song with John and you can feel his influence in the music. The whole Egyptian theme (doesn’t match the whole pirate theme) is cool enough, but again it is the musicianship that slays on this one. The bass skills by Mr. Franklin are fantastic, and the guitar wizardry accompanied with those drum-fills is all spectacular. Epic doesn’t do the song justice. Might be the best song on the album.

“Jelly Roll” might be the next best. This swamp-romp boogie style track, “Jelly Roll” is a bluesy and soulful acoustical gem that has great melodies and is a fantastic 80’s style rocker. This was the the 2nd single after “Valley of the Kings” and the song that got me in to the band. I really dug this one, just screams fun and it certainly is catchy enough.

The song that holds the distinction of one of the few songs in history to have the same name as the band and the album cover. “Blue Murder” is a beast of an anthem. A straight-up rocker and some screaming vocals by Sykes. All you need to do is turn it up and listen to them let loose. Fun fact, it is the only song on the album credited to be written by all members of the band.

We finally get a ballad called “Out of Love” and it might as well have been on Whitesnake’s 1987 album is it is identical in every way to the styles of that one. I mean, Sykes did play guitar and write songs on that one so totally makes sense. He even sings it as I think Coverdale would except not quite as good, but definitely not bad either. The vocals are a little sad and even dare I say haunting so Sykes is putting everything in to it. It is a decent ballad and maybe should’ve been released as a single since everyone was releasing ballads back then.

“Billy” is another rocking track. More of the Whitesnake sound…okay, I need to stop saying that because for two albums, he was the Whitesnake sound. As far as the bass work, damn, Tony is something else as it is another standout track for his playing. The vocals are great and I noticed a lot of layers of John’s vocals on top of each other and the whole album has probably been that way, but just paid attention to it. Nothing wrong with it, just pointing it out.

Then we get another epic track opening with some tribal sounds before an all hell breaking loose full band sound. “Ptolemy” isn’t about the man, strangely, but still a great song nonetheless. There is so much going on musically I don’t know where to focus and maybe that is my problem with it. It is rather prog like and doesn’t seem to all mesh together well and for me no real catchy chorus and so all-in-all, not one of my favorite tracks.

With “Black Hearted Woman”, there is more Whitesnake sounds (oops, I did it again)…but seriously, was this left off the 1987 album? It is an almost exact copy of all the riff on that album. It is a high-energy rocker and definitely screams 80’s. The vocals are a little more shrill here and the guitar playing is fast & furious (that’d make a great movie title). With all that being said, I actually like this song for all of those reasons. Sometimes, this is really all I want, a straight-ahead rocker.

And that is it. I had built this up over the years to be a classic rock album and one of my favorites from the 80’s and to some extent that does hold true still, but at the same time, some of the songs don’t hold up and some never take off. Songs like “Jelly Roll”, “Valley of the Kings” and “Blue Murder” are still some of my favorite tracks. Heck, I still love “Riot” and “Black Hearted Woman”. But songs like “Sex Child” and “Ptolemy” aren’t stuff I enjoy anymore and the ballad is just so-so. But there is no denying the guitar playing is incredible, and I forget how phenomenal the bass work was on this one, damn Tony is awesome. But the drumming was so-so. I had heard Cozy Powell was up for that role and I would’ve liked that. So, years ago I probably would’ve given this a 4.5 or even 5.0, but my mind is open now and I really listened this time around and My Overall Score is now a 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars. It still holds up for me, just not as high regards as before.


13 thoughts on “You Picked It! Blue Murder – ‘Blue Murder’ (1989) – Album Review

  1. I still don’t skip a song on this.

    I would say tracks like Billy and Blue Murder are more in vibe with Thin Lizzy like vocals.

    The ballad is haunting as you wrote and I play it for the guitar playing. Especially for the Outro solos.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Going to miss this series Johnny but I understand. Your right about Sykes signing to Geffen was a mistake as I still think Cov had something to do with this albums downfall which in reality by the amount of people that talk about this record you think it sold 5 Million!
    Agree with your score as well….Sykes though when he cuts loose just rips…man he’s good

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good album.

    Sorry to see the series go. Maybe do occasional runs? Only couple of times every year? For fewer albums? Only 3 albums to vote for instead of 5? Switch it around a bit maybe have 3-4 albums from the same artist? And tie it to something, not holidays, but like maybe before Spring break or the start of December or something similar.

    Your site- your call…so not sure why I’m rambling on…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the ideas, but it is done. I’m enjoying just grabbing an album and reviewing it too much. And since I have been done with the Scorpions series for a few weeks, you will get more variety then just a Soto album and a Scorps album every week.


  4. This one does have a lot of buzz behind it, probably the mystique of the album being squashed and Sykes being out of the business for so long. I do enjoy it quite a bit, and like you it comes down to the talent on the album. Just fantastic people to hear at work.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s