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Steve Vai - Sound Theories Vol. I & II CD (album) cover


Steve Vai

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3 stars In 2007, Steve Vai realized a dream he'd harbored since his youth of composing for an orchestra. Recording live with the Metropole Orchestra, Sound Theories shows updated versions of some of his classics as well as some original compositions. Vai always did strive to be more of a composer than shred guitarist. In fact, many of his older songs played here sound fully realized with orchestral backing, as if they'd been missing some key element.

The album/concert is effectively split into two sections: the run through of Vai's hits, and then the original tracks he crafted with the orchestra in mind. What is incredibly surprising is how he wrote scant guitar parts for these tunes. For once, the hired orchestra is the center of attention, not merely a device to display the neo-classical leanings of the artist. The only problem is that the first disc doesn't really pick up until the second half, with masterful adaptations of Liberty, The Attitude Song, and For the Love of God (the latter shows Vai's dedication to the music and not just himself by replacing some key passages with clarinet). The second disc is where the real meat is, and that's what makes this worth buying. Vai's selfless, understated guitar throws out the rule book for shred. Even though shredders like Vai and his mentor Joe Satriani had learned to curb mindless soloing in favor of actual songwriting skill, Steve takes it to a whole new level.

Fans of the more straightforward shred might find this boring, but those who enjoy depth in their music would do well to check this out. I would say it's vai's most progressive work to date, although Passion and Warfare is still his masterpiece.

Grade: C+

Report this review (#133536)
Posted Friday, August 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is one of the most amazing things Steve Vai has done. To me it's his most musical output and I believe Mr. Vai writes better for an orchestra than he does for his band. I've never heard such an amazing marriage between rock and orchestra since Zappa but this isn't anything like what Zappa was doing. The album is seperated to two CDs. The first cd contains new renditions of old songs. The makeovers that Steve Vai gives these songs are truly breathtaking and brings wonderful life to the sound like how I think it was intended. The biggest highlight on disc one is the I'm Becoming/Salamanders in the Sun piece(s). Such an incredible performance by Vai and the orchestra (and such skill from the sound engineers if you read the liner notes :P). However, for me, Disc 2 was where the magic really happened. Most of the music on this side was premiered by the Orchestra (Shadows... is a medley and Bledsoe Bluvd is an old Flex-Able piece) and is incredibly outstanding. All the pieces come alive and I very much look forward to the next time Mr. Vai does something to this caliber. 5 stars!
Report this review (#179917)
Posted Monday, August 18, 2008 | Review Permalink

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