I made the decision several years ago to concentrate my efforts on writing about lesser known and non-US artists, as these were the ones who had the most trouble in getting their excellent recordings reviewed by anyone in the mainstream. This has allowed me, over time, to turn on a lot of readers to some extremely talented but grossly under publicized artists.

I am often asked about which artists I recommend in this category. Invariably, I begin by directing my readers to the works of the Scandinavian power trinity: Marius Müller of Norway, Jukka Tolonen of Finland, and Clas Yngström of Sweden. These men have for many years been at the very front of the European blues/rock scene, though Müller wandered
some into pop music and Tolonen recorded some of the finest jazz fusion recordings of his day. Of the three, only Yngström has remained consistently a blues/rock artist during his career. Sadly, Marius Müller was killed in an auto accident in 1999 leaving behind a much too small body of work. His heir apparent in Norway is a young and talented Peer Gynt, whose latest CD will be the subject of a soon upcoming review.

“Freedom” is the latest and finest to date release from Clas Yngström and his band Sky High. It contains a full 16 tracks of both new and “live in the studio” remakes of Yngström classics, along with the title track and another cover tune. As is the case with all of his work, “Freedom” is chock full of Yngström’s powerhouse guitar, passionate vocals, and world class song writing. He is backed, most admirably as always, by his long time band Sky High – Arne Blomqvist on bass and Mats Östensson on drums and they are splendid indeed. Swedish guitarist Thomas Larsson also contributes some hot guitar on a couple of tracks. If you are a fan of Hendrix/ZZ Top style power trio blues/rock, then Clas Yngström and Sky High are definitely a “must own” band for your collection.
Apply all the worn out clichés to this one: it rocks, it smokes, it kicks major backside, etc. The CD is first rate from start to finish, with highlights including a thunderous remake of Yngström’s most well known track “I Ain’t Beggin” and the aforementioned title track and Hendrix cover. While all of the material here is excellent, the CD includes one of Yngström’s finest songs “Boogie For Peace” which is without question not only the best track on the set but also one of his finest ever. It ranks up there with “Mutual Respect” from his “Fat Guitar” CD and “I Ain’t Beggin”. But, then again, Yngström has so much good material, not only on this CD, but also in his entire catalog that it is difficult to choose favorites.

“Freedom” is available from the fine folks at GrooveYard Records at www.grooveyardrecords.com. Be sure to visit Clas Yngström and Sky High online at www.skyhighblues.com. I rate “Freedom”, as well as most every recording from Clas Yngström as a “mortgage the farm if you must to buy it” recording and it comes complete with the Bluesrockers seal of approval.

The Band:
Clas Yngström: guitar and vocals
Arne Blomqvist: bass
Mats Östensson: drums

Tracks:
1. Back To The Start
2. Boogie For Peace
3. Freedom
4. Jimi
5. Sisters And Brothers
6. Bluestown
7. Blues For The Green
8. I’m Still Rockin’
9. Go On Home
10. I Ain’t Beggin’
11. You Can’t Break Me
12. Evil Eye
13. Money Blues
14. I Want You
15. All Along The Watchtower
16. Restless Love

2002 GrooveYard Records

© Bluesrockers 2002

Reviewer

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