Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mystery Blue-Mystery Blue (2016 Version)

Eat Metal Records

Mystery Blue is a long-running heavy metal band from France. They were formed in 1978 and this self-titled album was originally released in 1984. It was preceded in life by a 1983 demo and along with the band's second album, "Circle of Shame", it has been re-released by Eat Metal Records. Both CDs were sent to me by a friend/fellow lover of all things French hard & heavy. Chances are good that no one else will remember this, but I originally talked about this group in one of my French Metal Friday features from 2011. If you are interested in checking that out then be sure to click on this link. Otherwise here we go with CD number one.
Formed in 1982 by guitarist and sole surviving original member, "Frenzy" Philippon, Mystery Blue was initially active up until 1989. After a six year break in the action, Mystery Blue reformed in 1995. Since then the band has been active in one form or another. Their last album was released in late December of 2012, but by all accounts they are still playing live gigs. If you want more information about all of that then be sure to check out the group's Facebook page. There you will see new singer Nathalie Geyer (well, she's been new to the group since 1995, but you get the drift!) and the rest of the gang. It's worth a visit if you have the time. Getting back to the topic at hand, "Mystery Blue" was originally released on the cult French label Axe Killer. Much like their fellow countrymen Trust, Mystery Blue's first album was primary influenced by AC/DC. That doesn't mean the whole album is like that, but a sizeable chunk certainty is. It's a hard & heavy take on the Aussie lads that adds in some love for Trust and a few touches of British metal, but there is no mistaking the intention. Seeing as I totally dig the sound of AC/DC gone heavy metal (see: Accept, Krokus, and to a lesser extent Trust), 1984's "Mystery Blue" has always been a jam for me as is. For those people who might be looking for more original hard rock and heavy metal, "Mystery Blue" has that covered as well. Towards the end of Mystery Blue's first album things get switched up big time and you can hear these French rockers reaching for more. With lead singer Michel Torres taking a step or two towards straight-up heavy metal, side B of this 1984 LP helps pave for the way towards Mystery Blue's own sound and it's a solid one! Two years later the band would follow this one with "Circle of Shame" (Dream Records), but this overlooked gem started it all. As noted in my French Metal Friday feature on the group, "Mystery Blue" was (at the time) one of the few hard rock/heavy albums to make an impact outside of France. There is a good reason why it happened. The music on this 1984 album speaks volumes about that subject, but it is best that you hear it for yourself.  This 2016 version tacks on a unreleased demo of the song "Never Surrender". I would take that to mean that it isn't the version that appeared on the band's 1983 demo, but I could be wrong. Whatever the case, "Never Surrender" is a good addition to this updated version. Eat Metal Record's version also comes with a live version of  "Paralysed" (sic). It is a live recording from 1984. As the second song on Mystery Blue's self-titled debut, "Paralysed" sounds better in a live setting, but that might only mean that they couldn't capture the full essence of this band's urgent sound in the studio! If there are any labels that are sitting on live Mystery Blue shows from this same time period then PLEASE release them! I would love to see if this French band had this much raw talent in a live setting or if this was just a random song choice that was captured on tape at the just the right moment. I'm leaning towards the former, but there isn't a lot to go on! Anyway, "Mystery Blue" circa 2016 needs a grade. Normally I don't go that route. I'm not big on grades or numbers, but for some reason I'm down for it today. After hearing this album again for the first time in years it has reminded me about French heavy metal bands and their unsung impact on the scene as a whole. With that "Oh yeah" reflection swirling about in this old brain of mine, "Mystery Blue" gets an admirable B+ and it is well earned! Be sure to keep an eye out for my piece on "Circle Of Shame". And if you're reading this my friend (and you know who you are!), French metal is always welcomed and always appreciated. I cannot thank you enough for this round...

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