Great Metal Albums of 1986: Tony MacAlpine- Edge of Insanity

Two camps were beginning to emerge in 1986 over the question of solo albums by lead guitarists. Those in favour argued that you got to hear the guitarist showcase their talent without the confines of the rest of their band. Those on the other side stated that albums of nothing but guitar instrumentals tend to become boring. They even point to one of the pioneers of guitar albums, Yngwie Malmesteen, stating that even he had vocalists on some of his songs. Personally, I go with the ‘in favour’ group because I have always been in awe of virtuosos who could bend the six-stringed instrument to their will. Tony MacAlpine was one such virtuoso.

Tony’s album, “Edge of Insanity” has no vocals and those in the opposition camp might find the album boring. However, what he does on each and every track is not boring. On each track, he makes the guitar sing in a unique and very entertaining way. I have always thought that he deserves to be included among all the rock and metal guitar gods whenever they are mentioned. However, in contrast to Yngwie, Tony plays the keyboards on the album as well. In fact, there is no guitar on the track, “Chopin- Prelude 16, Opus 28,” it’s just him on the keyboards and he is excellent. But where it shines best is my choice for hidden gem, “The Taker.” Here, Tony uses both his guitar and keyboard skills to great effect. Another contrast is while Yngwie played bass on his debut album, Tony only plays bass on one track. For the others, he chose to enlist the help of one Billy Sheehan. With Billy, he didn’t have to worry about the bass parts.

When I listened to “Edge of Insanity,” I tried to do so without regard to the two tracks which were featured on the Metal Sisters Compilation, the title track and “The Witch and the Priest.” However, that second track has been the one which has stuck in my mind for more than thirty years and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the best track on the album. It’s just the way Tony brings a rhythm to the lead guitar and then changes it once you start getting comfortable and then changes it back. At the same time, Billy and drummer Steve Smith, yes that Steve Smith from some band called Journey, what, were you thinking of the character on “American Dad?” provide a totally reliable rhythm section. That track is the defining number on a great instrumental album.

Track Listing:

  1. Wheel of Fortune
  2. The Stranger
  3. Quarter to Midnight (Live Solo)
  4. Agrionia
  5. Empire in the Sky
  6. The Witch and the Priest
  7. The Taker
  8. Chopin, Prelude 16, Opus 28
  9. Edge of Insanity
  10. The Raven
  11. No Place in Time
Tony MacAlpine

Tony MacAlpine- guitar, keyboards, bass (track 7)

Billy Sheehan- bass

Steve Smith- drums

It might be true that lead guitarists playing solo albums were beginning to come out of the woodwork in 1986 but I never considered that a bad thing. In the mid to late 1980s, there were a lot of great guitar albums, my favourite would come two years later but I totally enjoyed Tony MacApline’s album in 1986 and still enjoy it today.

Next post: Poison- Look What the Cat Dragged In

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6 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Tony MacAlpine- Edge of Insanity”

  1. If you’ve had The Witch And The Priest in your head for 30 years, you’ve been living right!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in favor of guitar solo albums as long as the songs are really songs with melody, chorus and such. Not just a showboat of “look what I can do”. Satriani was the best at this.

    Liked by 1 person

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