By Will Wallner
I woke up this morning to some very good news. John Sykes just updated his official Facebook page.
It looks like he's working on a new album that will hopefully be released soon. For those of you who know Sykes, you already know he is a phenomenal guitar player, singer and songwriter. For those who don't, here's a quick history lesson.
Sykes is an English rock guitarist whose first big gig was with Thin Lizzy and the Thunder and Lightning album. He then joined Whitesnake and wrote and recorded their most successful album, 1987.
Following this, he formed the power trio Blue Murder and fronted the band as singer and guitarist with Carmine Appice on drums and Tony Franklin on bass. In the '90s he began releasing music under his own name. His most recent original release was Nuclear Cowboy. This was released more than 10 years ago, which is why the news of a new Sykes album is very exciting.
In anticipation of his new album, I want to give you some suggested listening. I'm going to focus on his solo material, which is less well known than his work with bigger bands. Here are five Sykes songs that should get you pumped for his new album.
01. "Soul Stealer": The opening track from his first solo album, Out of My Tree. It's a pretty simple hard rock song with one of the most ferocious guitar solos ever recorded!
02. "I Don't Wanna Live My Life Like You": This is also from Out Of My Tree, and it's one of his best-known solo songs. The title says it all, the lyrics are rebellious and the song has a catchy punk feel.
03. "Look In His Eyes": From 20th Century, this is another song with strong melody and lyrics. At the end of the guitar solo, listen how he uses his control of pinch harmonics to make his guitar sound like a siren. On a side note, Sykes was doing pinch harmonics with wide vibrato way before Zakk Wylde made it his trademark.
04. "We Will": This is the opening track from Nuclear Cowboy. The album surprised a lot of fans with the use of samples and drum machines. The production may have been different, but the core Sykes trademarks of melody, tone and feel are all there. This song is built around a riff that's very creative and not your typical stock guitar riff. The song builds tension until the guitar solo break which is the perfect release.
05. "Arc Angel": Another song from Nuclear Cowboy that has strong vocal melody and some very creative guitar work. He also uses a Theremin and includes layers of texture within the song.
Like all of my favorite guitar players, Sykes has a strong sense of melody, great guitar tone and a unique style. I hope his new album comes out soon and will gain some momentum. He deserves a great deal of respect as a musician, and I would love to see him make a full comeback. Cheers!
Will Wallner is a guitarist from England now living in Los Angeles. He recently signed a solo deal with Polish record label Metal Mind Productions for the release of his debut album, which features influential musicians from hard rock and heavy metal. He also is the lead guitarist for White Wizzard (Earache Records) and in 2012 toured Japan, America and Canada. Follow Will on Facebook and Twitter.