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Steve Vai - Alien Love Secrets CD (album) cover


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4 stars The best works often come out as a flash. This LP has been conceived and recorded in a few weeks between two other recording sessions, and it is in my opinion the best of Vai's efforts.

I've been very surprised when I found out about how Steve Vai made this album, as I thought it was the result of lot more studio work.

The best spot is "Kill the guy with the ball", where it looks like the guitar plays a rhytmic role, and the drums (by an incredible Dean Castronovo) play a melodic role. The song is jumpy, overactive and incredibly catchy, despite of its extreme complexity. This is also a completely progressive song, also being the only one in this record.

Other jewels are "tender surrender", "die to live" and "the boy from Seattle", in which the emotional charge of the soloes is simply astonishing.

There is also place for some divertissements, such as "Ya-Yo Gakk", made basing on Steve's daughter Fire voice samples. It's really a tender song, because it lets you imagine the father which plays the game of music with his child.

I never loose attention on this record, though "Ya-Yo Gakk" can be boring after some replayings.

A final notice about the cover of the LP, which is probably the most fascinating of Vai's, finally not being in a bad Malmsteen's taste fashion!

Don't miss it if you're a Steve Vai fan, but I'm sure it will be of great interest to every complex music lover

Report this review (#50420)
Posted Friday, October 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars A burst of inspirations or just an exercise, Alien Love Secrets is satisfying if you're able to find it, of course. I heard Juice and Tender Surrender live at the G3 in 2002, and it really rocked. I was very surprised that half of his show was based on this EP! It's a short one, but collectors and hardcore fans should get it, since it has good value.

Oh well, prepare for something weird to a certain extend. Maybe working with Zappa shook things in Vai's psyche? Hey listen to Ya-Yo Gak and tell me this guy's hasn't imagination. He actually got his 2 year old boy to sing on the record!

Cute and bizarre.

Report this review (#72992)
Posted Friday, March 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Alien Love Secret

This EP is really for a collector or a guitarist. As I said on my previous Vai's review, Steve Vai really has a great technique and skill, also guitar effect. Those ability lead to his "strange" songs that sometimes just prioritize on technique and sound effect, which decrease the feeling of the song itself.

Bad Horsie - I don't really know what the meaning of the song, whether he wanted to tell a story about a horse or just wanted to create a sound effect of a horse. The song is very heavy rock, with heavy rhythm throughout the song.

Juice - This song was played at the G3 concert, I guess the G3 2003 with Yngwie Malmsteen. A good song, for me, very dynamic and energetic with good balance of solo and rhythm. The song really reflects Vai's ability to play guitar as he used many technique in this song and some beautiful notes in this song, somewhat different with Bad Horsie.

Die To Live - In my opinion, this is a really good song, simple intro and beautiful. The harmonics on guitar create some good feeling. The verse started at 1:14, real beautiful, with heavy rhythm but simple solo. At 1:56, the solo gets even better, the rhythm changes to clean and the song slows down.

The Boy From Seattle - This is a very not-Vai song. The song is very jazzy and bluesy, like Eric Johnson's Manhattan. The sound is very clean and good, with nice tone. Well this is my second favorite song in the album, very relaxing. And again, the best part is the sound effect, very clean and pure. At 3:27 minute, the distorted guitar was played with much delay effects, very Steve Vai. After that, the jazzy sound back, very "groovy".

Ya Yo Gakk - Funny song for me. Vai asked his son to sing for the song, so that Vai can repeat the same notes like his son sings. I have seen the video clip and its hilarious, and I mean, his son looks fun and enjoy it : ). The solo is really great and followed with the same concept with the intro of the song. In the end of the song, his son said, "babay", real funny!!

Kill The Guy With The Ball - Really heavy intro and rhythm section with dynamic drums. This is probably the heaviest song is the EP, and the drum was just amazing. However, just like I said above, his technique and skills makes the song lack of feeling, well, in my opinion. The song was ended in a very slow tempo and there were some heartbeats in the end.

Tender Surrender - Another beautiful song, just like The Boy From Seattle. Very clean acoustic bluesy sound. This is my favorite song! The coolest part is when the drum stops and then continued when Vai hits the final note, just really beautiful. At 3:14, he used his sick two-handed tapping using two strings at a time, truly a virtuoso. After that, the sound went back to clean jazzy sound. Very cool!! A nice song to end the EP.

I give this EP 3 star, when compared to progressive music. In addition, this EP is really for a collector or a guitarist or someone who likes Joe Satriani or John Petrucci or Yngwie Malmsteen. Peace!

Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

Report this review (#78896)
Posted Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I was a raving Steve Vai fan after his first two albums but I was so disappointed with "Sex and Religion" that it was many years before I picked up any more of his releases. As it turns out, I had been missing out on some fine work. This album picks up where "Passion and Warfare" left off.

1. Bad Horsie - The album kicks off with a heavy groove and it's obvious that Steve Vai is back to his old form. Once again, Vai demonstrates that he can squeeze some unbelievable sounds out of a guitar.

2. Juice - If you told me this was a Joe Satriani track, I wouldn't doubt it for a second. Vai's Satch impression is uncanny here, mimicking both his chunky rhythm guitar style as well as his leads.

3. Die To Live - This is more of a heavy ballad with good dynamics and some beautiful phrasing. Not quite at the level of his riveting ballads on "Passion and Warfare", but definitely pleasing.

4. The Boy from Seattle - This track is reminiscent of Satriani as well but it has some dizzying, multi-tracked leads as well as some excellent clean-toned rhythm playing.

5. Ya-Yo Gakk - This is probably the silliest track on the album but enjoyable nonetheless.

6. Kill the Guy with the Ball/The God Eaters - One of the things that always amazed me about Steve Vai was that he could sound so spontaneous. Only the multi-tracked guitars and tightly coordinated drumming reveal that it is carefully composed. The first half of this track is trademark, frenetic Steve Vai and the second half is strangely beautiful.

7. Tender Surrender - This is my favorite track on the album. It’s a slow ballad that builds from a clean melody to a scorching climax and winds back down again.

All in all, this is a very decent Vai effort. Although not quite up to par with "Flex-Able" and "Passion and Warfare" it is a solid album that would be enjoyable to both guitar nuts as well as people who enjoy interesting instrumental rock. Nobody questions Vai's technical ability and he could probably blow away any regular "shredder". What is most appealing about Vai is that he uses his skills to express his strange, yet compelling musical concepts rather than playing a million notes per second.

Report this review (#85009)
Posted Friday, July 28, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars On Alien Love Secrets, Steve Vai once again demonstrates the technical brilliance and playful dynamic and melodic experimentation that has made him such an outstanding character in the world of instrumental rock. This is an album i always enjoy listening to, with seven great and enjoyable tracks, Juice and Die To Live perhaps being the highlights in my opinion.
Report this review (#92799)
Posted Sunday, October 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars Maybe the less prog album made by Steve Vai. Ok, he's not a prof musician but he always has in his music a lot of prog details that I really love but "Alien Love Secrets" is a rock album from the first heavy riffs of "Bad Horsie" to the las notes of "Kill the Boy with the Ball". Just "The God Eaters" and the beautiful ballad "Tender Surrender" are a quite alternative Vai style of albums like "Passion & Warfare" or "Sex & Religion".

Not a bad album anyway. As usual, Vai shows all his skills and talent in every song even when songs like "Juice" or "The Boy from Seattle" reminds me sone Satriani tracks, in every note you can feel the espontaneous Vai style, the joy when he's playing guitar and, attention guitar fans, a lot of amazing and delightful solo sections.

At last, an interesting instrumental album with great guitar solos and lots of rock...

Report this review (#149452)
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Petrovsk Mizinski
4 stars This is Steve Vai's second EP as a solo artist, and is one that is particularly close to my heart. It contains 7 instrumental tracks and is over in a little over half an hour and despite the fact it is heavily guitar driven, I can even see it appealing to those who aren't even into the virtuoso guitar scene. A range of styles are covered here, so that helps to make it an interesting listen.

First up with Bad Horsie, in which Vai uses a drop tuned 6 string guitar, which is not common for him. It is a very heavy song, easily catergorised as an instrumental heavy metal song. I can definitely hear the 'Bad Horsie', with lots of heavy riffage and pinch harmonic screams manipulated with the whammy bar. The main solo screams and wails all in the one solo, with a blistering and crazy tapped lick that he manipulates with the wah wah pedal, but this part speaks just as much as the solo sections of the solo, so no worries or concerns here for me.

Juice is a straight up rocker, with a great mix of lead and rhythm playing. I don't see anything really remarkable in this song, but it is well written and a great listen.

Die To Live is a song that is played with just one guitar part, but Vai's intention was specifically to create a song that would combine the rhythm and lead guitar parts in one flowing motion, and he certainly suceeded here. There are odd time signatures in this song, but Vai make it feel so natural that we almost don't notice they're here. A beautiful melody and rhythm in one, and just so uplifting.

The Boy From Seattle, as one might guess, is a tribute to the great man from Seattle, Jimi Hendrix. It features a Hendrix trademark rhythm playing, with chords being played with melodies played in between and notes being hammered on to the chord being played. Around 2:50, we even hear some Stevie Ray Vaughn style playing. Of course this song is a tribute to Hendrix, but that one section that sounds a bit like SRV even seems to be a little tribute to him too. A touching, soulful song and superbly well written.

Ya Yo Gakk features Vai's son of vocals, while Vai sports a 7 string guitar for rhythm guitar duties. There is an amusing call and response between his son's vocals and Vai's guitar. Vai does an excellent job of making his response sound as much as possible to his son's vocals as much as possible. This was probably my least favorite song on this EP, as sometimes it just gets annoying and I can't seem to want to listen to it everytime I put this EP on.

Kill The Guy With The Ball is easily the most experimental sounding of the songs, and features a crazy guitar line that sounds like a robot, but is in fact Vai playing with an ultra expensive harmonising effect device. The rhythms are just crazy and you wonder how he stayed in time during these parts, just crazy. The God Eaters kicks in a keyboard into the mix, played chords, while Vai plays a melody over the top, very upfliting and beautiful sounding at times, sometimes being contrasted with darker shades too.

Tender Surrender is just amazing for a lack of a better word to describe how good it is. It is a ballad type song for the most part, starting off with nice and melodic Hendrixy type chording. He kicks in the distortion for a lead tone and then the song just takes off and just beyond and above the ceiling and into the sky with some truly majestic phrasing that takes my breathe away. The solo is just superb, as fast as it is, he never loses the fire and a passion here in his speedy licks, and it is definitely my favorite solo on the record. Stunner from start to finish.

I wouldn't say this is Vai's best and definitely isn't his most important work, but it still has some excellently written songs and some truly amazing guitar playing.

Report this review (#169497)
Posted Friday, May 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars A wonderful EP from my favorite guitarist.

The songs here are fun, and in the oft-imitated, but rarely ever successful, Vai style(which in itself is a fusion of things). Guitar rock that delves into Zappa touches and multiple direct genres, creating a solid collection of music.

Beginning with the Highlight Bad Horsie, the pure funky wah-wah rock of this is enthralling. His wailing style with his Van Halen rocking makes for a great listen. As always, Vai's playing is well beyond standard. The songs follow a jazzy wailing rock. Juice has such a high power level, feeding off the first song.

The songs are great, but the album feels a bit shallow. Overall, the songs tend to remain within the hard rock vibe, and never venture much further, except for the tasteful and pretty close "Tender Surrender", which is one of Vai's best, and boasts such exceptional blues playing.

The songs lack a real sense of progression, and he does rely a bit too much on standard guitar solos and instrumental rock cliche, but the songs are enjoyable. Not essential, but definitely a fun listen. Three Stars

Report this review (#212050)
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Alien Love Secrets is 7 songs long Steve Vai EP CD. Usual heavy metal progressive guitar (almost) instrumental album, concentrated on Vai's guitar playing technique demonstration.

Don't expect there nothing connected with his work with Frank Zappa. Yes, Steve Vai has great technique but doesn't use Zappa legacy or experience for his solo works. Music is quite usual guitar heavy metal, nothing too much different from style standard.

To say more, the album is GOOD heavy metal guitar playing technique demonstration . Compositions are played by master, and there are elements of prog almost everywhere. ( Comparing with his future partner in guitar projects John Petrucci, Vai is great PROGRESSIVE guitarist of heavy metal). But whenever guitar instrumental heavy metal is style very limited by itself in it's possibilities, I believe, that this album is mostly oriented to guitar instrumental music fans. However, good work between style competitors. Strong 3,5. .

Report this review (#258693)
Posted Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I'm not usually one to quibble with which label an artist has been labeled with here, as long as the worthy are included, but Steve Vai in "prog related"? Really. Listen to this EP for starters. This is some of the heaviest heavy prog to kick your butt down the pike that you're going to find anywhere.

Never mind the wild sounds Vai comes up with on his guitar, the whinnies in Bad Horsie, the imitation of his son in Ya Yo Gakk, and the strange voice in Kill The Guy With The Ball, there are virtuoso twists and turns everywhere, symphonic chord progressions and wild arrangements.

Harrumph! Prog related. Yah. Sure.

Report this review (#557128)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
Magnum Vaeltaja
Eclectic Prog Team
4 stars This is a guitar lover's dream. A short but rich and cohesive album, "Alien Love Secrets" presents some of Steve Vai's most focused output.

The album's style ranges from heavy to melodic, bluesy to romantic and showcases flawless guitar technique with a healthy dose of creativity. The album is very close to a masterpiece but there are some slight pitfalls now and again. "Ya-Yo Gakk" comes to mind, which is a humorous hard rock song featuring Steve's 2-year-old son Julian on lead vocals and loses its novelty quite quickly. The metal-oriented songs, "Bad Horsie" and "Kill The Guy With The Ball", while initially quite exciting, do tend to wear a little thin after years of listening. That isn't to diminish from the other 4 songs on the album, though, as they have all stood the test of time or even improved with repeated listens.

"Juice" is the uptempo rock shuffle that southern rock would envy being, a highway boogie romp with impeccable trade-off style guitar licks. Though not progressive, it's certainly a classic. "The Boy From Seattle" is a classic, with gentler guitar textures and bluesy melodies. "Tender Surrender" is the emotional masterpiece of the album (and even Steve's career) and will leave you satisfied for years to come provided you don't have any qualms with its hyper-romantic nature.

"Alien Love Secrets" is heaven for guitar lovers and may just offer some great material to other listeners too, proghead or not.

Report this review (#1481098)
Posted Sunday, November 1, 2015 | Review Permalink
Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team
3 stars There is no doubt that Steve Vai is a huge influence for rock guitarists everywhere. There is no doubt that he is one of the greats. He has quite a history including being a part of Frank Zappa's band from 1980 - 1983. He was known by Zappa as the Stunt Guitar man because of his technique and playing of the nearly impossible passages written by Zappa. As a matter of fact, Vai transcribed "The Black Page" before Zappa even knew who he was. Vai sent Zappa a copy of the transcription and Zappa was so impressed he hired him to transcribe most of his music.

Other than this, Vai is mostly known for his solo work even though he has worked with many other bands and artists. Usually, as a rule, I tend to stay away from solo albums that feature guitar players, because they usually end up sounding all the same. Sure they are great to listen to a song at a time, but when they are played together in an album format, they tend to wear out their welcome. I already know you can play that guitar, how about showing us a little variety now and let's see how talented you really are.

This EP is just about the right size as far as I'm concerned for this type of music. Vai gets to show off, which is fine, he has every right to do so. But, with just barely over 30 minutes, this EP does not wear out it's welcome. And Vai even dares to add a little variety while he's at it, so I actually enjoy this album. Guitar greats that do this like Vai, Alan Holdsworth, Eric Clapton, and so on are the ones that dabble in other styles and are not afraid to try out new things. I can listen to these artists because they prove how diverse they are and don't have to rely on one style of music.

The EP starts off with "Bad Horsie" which is a good way to start things, no holds barred Hard Rock. Forget the fact that he can make his guitar sound like a horse, The Osmonds did the same thing back in the 70s. It's much more than that, it's a hard driving heavy metal song that lets out all the stops. The next 2 tracks are pretty much formulaic though and don't have anything unique about them. After this however, we are treated to "The Boy from Seattle", Vai's homage to Hendrix. This is an excellent track, with a completely different style, more bluesy along the lines of Hendrix without trying to be him with a little Stevie Ray thrown in for good measure. "Ya Yo Gakk" is a very innovative and playful number done with Vai's young son. I love this. His son sings and Vai answers back imitating his son with his guitar. "Kill the Guy with the Ball/The God Eaters" starts out fairly straightforward but eventually wanders into a bit of progressive territory but then around the 4:30 mark, things get really interesting for a little while, then the suite moves into more mellow territory when the percussion disappears. Not bad. The last track is a nice jazz-blues number called "Tender Surrender". This is very reminiscent of some of Santana's slower numbers, just with some different tricks. You can also tell that you haven't mistakenly put on a Santana song because it still has Vai's wild signature sound as it moves on.

The EP is nice to listen to on occasion and because there is some variety present, it also makes it more pleasing and not so traditional when it comes to guitar solo albums. There isn't much in the way of progressive rock here, but his technique can be so unique that you almost think you are listening to something progressive. No doubt that Vai is a guitar hero and that he can do more than grind an axe. He is also a master.

Report this review (#1940975)
Posted Saturday, June 23, 2018 | Review Permalink

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