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JOHN SYKES
NUCLEAR COWBOY

Universal Japan PHCW-1063
Produced by: John Sykes

Released: OUT / Website
Relatives: R.A.T.M., Blue Murder
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 70%

  1. Intro
  2. We Will
  3. Nuclear Cowboy
  4. Arc Angel
  5. Nothing Means Nothing
  6. Talking 'Bout Love
  7. One Way System
  8. Interlude "All Good People"
  9. Degraded
  10. Sick
  11. I Wish It Would Rain
  12. Raising The Devil

I have been listening to the album a lot over the past few weeks and have found it has grown on me a lot. I still don't think it's a classic, but there is a few very clever parts to the album that only reveal themselves after I feel weren't given enough credit in my initial review.
So I have adjusted some of the comments below and rounded the score up.
I would love to hear another Blue Murder album and stand by my preference for Sykes in his classic rock mould, but there really are a few gems on this album.

I talked to John on a few occasions during the writing and recording of this new studio album and it was pretty clear from the outset that this would be a departure from the norm for him. He constantly made references to wanting to change things around, experiment a little and that he was planning on adding tribal rhythms and hip-hop beats to the music.
This worried me a lot, as something like that has to be extremely good to work and from witnessing other artists do it, I can think of none that it convincingly worked for.
Upon listening to the new album, initially I was scared off by some of these changes.
But after a lot of listening you find that the new additions only serve to enhance the songs that are still based in traditional Sykes territory.
This is a very different John Sykes record.
It's a bold and brave record with many interesting musical pieces.
This album contains some of the best production ever afforded a Sykes record and his voice sounds fantastic. The big bombastic guitar sound of Whitesnake and the Blue Murder albums is also back in places. It's like the debut Blue Murder album meets the 21st Century. (sounds like a good album title).
There will be some fans alienated by this album and the direction it takes. But like I should have done - give it some time before making final judgment.
In broadening his style and varying the approach of this album to appeal to a hip new younger crowd, he could piss off a great deal of his regular fan base that will now think twice before buying his next album.
Every single artist that has tried something different or modernized in recent history has fallen short of their mark, so it will be interesting to see what happens to this album and also the one to follow.
Now I am certainly not against change, nor am I against hearing something new and exciting, but this album took some work!
Some parts of this album work very well. Opening track We Wish is a modern and hard hitting rocker with a heavy industrial feel and guitars and vocals that scream Blue Murder.
The title track that follows is where you can hear things going wrong. A rap-like vocal leads into a heavy chorus, with industrial beats and a hip hop vibe lying underneath, and plenty of samples darting about Sykes' huge guitar solo's - which are more alternative/industrial than straight ahead hard rock. It's works better than any other artist I have heard attempt such feats.
Arc Angel is OK, it's a moodier version of the above track, faster and featuring a sung-spoken rap vocal. It also contains some smoking guitar work and a really cool heavy vibe.
Nothing Means Nothing is very guitar heavy, but backed by drum machine beats and doesn't shine like some of the other tracks do.
Talkin' About Love has a techno-pop verse, with a mind blowingly heavy semi-industrial chorus featuring swirling synthesizers. It's actually quite a bold and interesting track and has become one of my favorite tracks of the album. One of the most adventurous songs.
One Way System is as close to the old Sykes you will find here. Could have come from the last album.
I still don't get into Degraded a whole lot. Not the style, just a weaker track.
Sick is the same, a little too alternative and no real hook to grab you. Maybe the weakest track on the album.
I Wish It Would Rain is the ballad of the album and a good one at that. It's a more modern ballad that could have fit on the Loveland album, only it's been altered to fit the style of this record.
Raising The Devil is again modern and heavy and semi-industrial and one of the weaker tracks. I definitely believe the first half of the album is the best.
BOTTOM LINE: I really like some parts of this album and have grown to think a few things work brilliantly, but there are a few fillers and a few tracks that take the experimentation too far.
I still don't believe Sykes or Blue Murder fan will rate this ahead of some of the great man's earlier work, but I think it might be better than Out Of My Tree and is certainly more varied than 21st Century.
This album will appeal to those with an open mind and those with a penchant for the heavier and more experimental side of hard rock. Also those with a taste for industrial rock.
But, above anything, give it enough time to develop before you judge it!
PRODUCTION: 90% SONGS: 60% VIBE: 65%ATTITUDE: 70%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Die-hard Sykes and industrial rap-rock fans only.
DISCOGRAPHY:Blue Murder . Nothing But Trouble . Screaming Blue Murder . Out Of My Tree . Loveland . 20th Century . Chapter 1 . Nuclear Cowboy



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