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Steve Vai Flex-Able Leftovers album cover
2.64 | 37 ratings | 6 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1984

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD re-issue track list:

1. Fuck Yourself (8:27)
2. So Happy (2:43)
3. Bledsoe Blvd (4:22)
4. Natural Born Boy (3:34)
5. Details at 10 (5:58)
6. Massacre (3:25)
7. Burnin' Down the Mountain (4:22)
8. Little Pieces of Seaweed (5:12)
9. San Sebastian (1:08)
10. The Beast of Love (3:30)
11. You Didn't Break It (4:19)
12. The X-Equilibrium Dance (5:10)
13. Chronic Insomnia (2:00)

Total Time 54:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Vai / electric & acoustic guitars, synthesizer, electric piano, sitar, lead & backing vocals

- Stuart Hamm / bass
- Chris Frazier / drums
- Robin Dimaggio / drums
- Deen Castronovo / drums
- Tommy Mars / violins, keyboards, vocals
- Pete Zeldman / percussion
- Larry Crane / lyre, vibraphone
- Bob Harris / vocals, backing vocals
- Suzannah Harris / vocals, backing vocals
- Lill Vai, Joe Despagni, Randy Coven / sound effects

Releases information

LP EP : Urantia Records IM777,(Vinyl, 10", EP, Limited Edition)
Side A referred to as In Side, side B as Out Side.
Comes with 10" inlay containing all lyrics and background information.
This is the first issue, limited to 1000 copies.
This 10" was re-issued with different Artwork later in 1984 on Akachic Records, once again limited to 1000 copies.

CD re-release: Epic 492858 2 (EU, 1998, Epic, The extra songs on this reissue are: Track 1, 4, 6, 9, 12, alternative cover)

Thanks to TheProgtologist for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy STEVE VAI Flex-Able Leftovers Music

STEVE VAI Flex-Able Leftovers ratings distribution

(37 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (38%)
Collectors/fans only (32%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEVE VAI Flex-Able Leftovers reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Steve Vai, despite my full collection of his solo albums, has never been in my attention because I typically do not like music which demonstrates the ego of the artist especially in playing his instrument. In the case of Vai, I do not like the over play of guitar throughout his compositions. This is not only to Vai, but also to other soloist like John Petrucci who also composed music based on his ego and do not let other musicians to perform their skills. I have the CD of this Flex-able Leftovers for years already and it has never been spun fairly from my players. I did try it some days ago and I find some interesting songs like the opening track "*&^# yourself" which reminds me to the music of Frank Zappa. No wonder because Steve was from Frank Zappa band previously. In terms of composition this song has weird style with unique grooves. There is interesting guitar solo which does not take that long (thanks God!).

Other track that I think is good as well is "Massacre". It demonstrates how Steve is an excellent musician with greak guitar playing skills. As this CD is containing leftovers you might imagine that some songs are probably not qualified to be included in the full fledge album.

Overall, it's a good album and it might satisfy those who like guitar-based music like Satriani, Johnson, Petrucci, etc. I consider this is a good collection for collectors.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars The original version of this album was a limited issue 10" EP. All of the songs from that EP are on this album, plus a few more unreleased tracks from Mr. Vai's vaults. Like any album of remnants, there are some good pieces and some bad pieces. But nothing spectacular.

There are some nods to Frank Zappa. #?@! Yourself is the most obvious, and very funny. San Sebastian, and instrumental, has a very Zappa-like feel. And Bledsoe Bluvd, with Tommy Mars, is very good. Details at 10, an indictment of newscasters, with it's pseudo- reggae beat, also has some Zappa-esque qualities.

A couple of songs, So Happy and Little Pieces of Seaweed, babble on too long before Vai starts showing off his guitar imitation of spoken word, and the pieces get kind of silly, then boring. And a few poppy songs at the end fall flat.

But Vai is just too creative for these leftovers to not hold some interest. So three stars.

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars A bizzare, eclectic and eccentric collection of some of Steve Vai's weirdest and most experimental musings. If you aren't already a Steve Vai fan, turn back now. If you've heard lots of his other material and want to get a better insight into the man behind the music, read on. "Flex-Able Leftovers" contains a wide range of musical styles, with some simpler, relatively melodic numbers interspersed with more abstract, sometimes humorous pieces. I'm not really a fan of the latter ones but there is good material to be found . Some of my favourites are the hard rock shredder "Massacre" and the acoustic "Burnin' Down The Mountain". There are some more complex songs that are also of interest, such as "Bledsoe Bluvd.", which reminds me of some Canterbury Scene music and "The X-Equalibrium Dance", which has such an erratic drum part that would give Bill Bruford a run for his money. I believe that the best song on the album is the primal hard rock "Natural Born Boy", which is a quality song that wouldn't be out of place on "Alien Love Secrets". The real prize that comes with owning this album are the CD's liner notes; Steve writes out little anecdotes, stories and descriptions about each of the album's songs, which makes for a riveting read.

"Flex-Able Leftovers" is a gold mine for any serious Steve Vai fan but will have very little allure to anyone not acquainted with his art.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars STEVE VAI's debut album "Flex-able" was the result of his time between several years as "stunt guitarist" for Frank Zappa and his future as a rock / metal guitar god once he joined David Lee Roth and Whitesnake which helped launch his career as one of rock's greatest solo shredders of all time. The material presented on his debut album which appeared in 1984 was the result of two years of recording (82-84) of which only eleven tracks appeared but STEVE's output was quite prolific. What started out as a project to record goofy nonsensical tracks only intended to be heard by his friends resulted in a debut album with the excess of eight more tracks appearing on the FLEX-ABLE LEFTOVERS EP that was released the same year.

This EP may be a source of confusion since it was released twice in 1984 by two record labels and then again in 1998 as a full length album with an additional six tracks recorded during the same period with all three releases sporting completely different cover art. Yikes! The first release of FLEX-ABLE LEFTOVERS appeared as a vinyl 10" with only 1000 editions appearing on the Urantia label which featured fairy tale cover art that had a yellow impressionist background with a hand tugging on a heart in water. The second pressing of also 1000 editions was released on VAI's newly created Akashic Records and featured a similar cover as the original "Flex-Able" album cover with a jet black background with a pinkish purple logo and in the EP's case a similarly colored VAI playing guitar. Both of these EPs had the exact same track order which was changed up for the 1998 re-release.

IN SIDE (aka Side One)

One "You Didn't Break It" Two "Bledsoe Bluvd" Three "The Beast of Love" Four "Burnin' Down the Mountain"

OUT SIDE (aka Side Two)

One "So Happy" Two "Details at 10" Three "Little Pieces of Seaweed" Four "Chronic Insomnia"

The EP was expanded to a full-length on Sony Records released in 1998 with a completely different track order which included six unreleased tracks that were recorded during the same period of 1982-84. This one was released on CD only and included one major change of recording live drums to replace the original drum machine on "You Didn't Break It." All the tracks received a complete re- editing and mixing. To make it even more confusing four of the tracks appeared as bonus tracks on the CD release of the "Flex-Able" album that appeared in 1988. These four tracks include: "So Happy," "Bledsoe Blvd," "Burnin' Down The Mountain" and "Chronic Insomnia." Whew! The 1998 track list is:

One "F.u.c.k Yourself" (Listed as #?@! Yourself) (Bonus Ed. 1998) Two "So Happy" Three "Bledsoe Bluvd" Four "Natural Born Boy" (Bonus Ed. 1998) Five "Details at 10" Six "Massacre" (Bonus Ed. 1998) Seven "Burnin' Down the Mountain" Eight "Little Pieces of Seaweed" Nine "San Sebastian" (Bonus Ed. 1998) Ten "The Beast of Love" Eleven "You Didn't Break it" (Bonus Ed. 1998) Twelve "The X-Equilibrium Dance" (Bonus Ed. 1998) Thirteen "Chronic Insomnia"

These tracks contained many but not all of the same session musicians as "Flex-Able" with Mike Keneally and Stu Hamm joining in from the Zappa crowds. The instrumentation once again ranged from the standard guitar, bass, keyboards and drums to the more exotic which included coral sitar, violin, piccolo xylophone, bell lyre and vibraphone. Also in the mix were various vocal effects from many guests as well. While "Flex-Able" was a stand alone eclectic moment in the rock universe, FLEX-ABLE LEFTOVERS has even more bizarre concoction which include some of the most foul mouthed profanities that STEVE VAI has ever uttered in his predominantly PG-rated career therefore this is the one album that received the Parental Advisory label most due to the 1998 add on "F.u.c.k Yourself," a shockingly hilarious critique on society and the world in general, guaranteed to either offend you beyond belief or have you rolling on the floor laughing so hard that tears are rolling out of your eyes!

FAVORITE TRACKS include: The opener "F.u.c.k Yourself" and the second track "So Happy." A very bizarre WTF spoken word oddity that shows VAI's uncanny ability to replicate spoken words in perfect pitch and tempo on guitar. "Massacre." A bitchin' guitar workout fretted over a techno beat that performs some of VAI's best guitar antics of this era. "Little Pieces Of Seaweed." OMG. This is just too much! This is INSANE!!! Yes, it's got Zappa written all over it but it is filthy, raunchy, brash and experimental as hell. VAI unleashes all the production techniques including backmasking, torturous fret abuse and freaky compositional liberties. Aspects of VAI's entire career can be heard in this one. The ultimate summary in one track. "The X-Equilibirum Dance" is a funky chunky bunch of proggy weirdness! The funk bass finds a guitar slinking in and out of sync with it and while the guitar goes to la-la land, so do the drums and bass join in offering a weird in-and-out-of focus strangeness. "Chronic Insomnia" is pure experimental guitar that would sound more at home in a no wave band like DNA. It's actually quite frightening as a bunch of guitar sounds emulate an exorcist or something. It's two minutes of pure mind f.u.c.k.e.r.y.

OK TRACKS include: "Details At 10." Despite a quite cool track. This is too much straight outa the Frank Zappa playbook. Perhaps a rejected track from the "You Are What You Is" album. Nice but it's not outstanding either. "Burnin' Down The Mountain" is a slow acoustic guitar track with shakers that offers a pleasant melodic development but never really gains steam. "You Didn't Break It" offers a Van Halen type of guitar riff. It was written by Bob and Suzannah Harris and features Bob on vocals. It's not bad and VAI's guitar adds some sizzle to an otherwise meh sort of rock song.

THROWAWAY TRACKS include: "Natural Born Boy." One of those boring rock instrumentals that has no memorable melody and displays a generic lead over rhythmic guitar. "San Sebastian" is another one of those boring melodic tracks that chimes along and never really goes anywhere. "Beast Of Love." One of those ballad type tracks with VAI's awful vocal style. I can handle his voice when the track is interesting but this one is rather bland.

Overall, a great bonus for true fans. There is some excellent material on here that i could not possibly live without however this one falls short of the essential tag. As expected the term LEFTOVERS implies material that didn't make the original cut for a reason. In many cases, it was because the material was obviously too weird and that's the material i love the best, but some as stated are rather meh while some are just ok. However, the cream of the crop on here means this is well worth checking out if you love the most weird Zappa influences of VAI's early work as well as his impeccable production and guitar playing skills.

3.5 but rounded down

Review by DangHeck
2 stars A decent compilation of early Vai, but... really just for the fans...

I guess I'm dealing with a different song order than what's listed above, as I'm listening to the 25th Anniversary edition.

And of course, being Flex-Able Leftovers, these are (please forgive me) the supposed leftovers from Flex-Able (1984), and we gotst plenty of quirk and ZAPPA-isms herein (see below).

"You Didn't Break It" nearly broke me: just terrible. Then... saved(!) by the beautiful "Bledsoe Bluvd", the first of many Zappa-esque likely-Zappa-homages, perhaps most reminiscent of Vai's own "Salamanders In The Sun" of the aforementioned release. This is followed by "The Beast of Love", a low-energy, silly lounge tune (not unlike some early-80s FZ repertoire--replete with *snork(s)!*). The bizarre hilarity continues on "So Happy", a strange rambling about "never being sad" and eventually featuring Vai-penned guitar-transcription (I can't believe he continued with this insanity after getting out from under "the whip"...).

Continuing on, "Details at 10" is quite the early-Vai tune. I really actually like his voice; sorta forgot how decent he is in this department, ya know... for obvious reasons. It is most apparent on this track that Suzannah "Thana" Harris (wife of Bob) is the main female vocalist on the album; she is most famous as the (I think excellent) vocalist on Zappa's Sleep Dirt's 1991 overdubs for CD (my preferred version). She delivers a very nice fake news report about... some admittedly awful things (this bit sort of reminded me of "Greggery Peccary", not in theme, but in effect).

"Little Pieces of Seaweed" was... okay...

"Chronic Insomnia" was... a lot... Atonality, discordance, noise. Take that as you will... [Not so] Strangely enough, this made the very handsome "Natural Born Boy" all the more satisfying. Great riff, great melody and some of the greatest (straightest) playing that we've been offered on this journey. Welcomed, to say the least...

Regardless of when it was actually recorded (even if it was recorded yesterday--the recording for this ended in 1998, by the way), "Massacre" is insane. Just another proof, if we needed one, of Vai being one of the greats (love him or hate him). And speaking of... taste... "Fuck Yourself" is... uhhh... well performed?... I really disliked it. This moment(?) and this compilation was saved(?) by the very, again, Sleep Dirt-esque "X-Equalibrium Dance". That weird alien guitar tone that shimmers and wavers. Hard to explain if you don't know it.

For my closing thoughts, see my opening thoughts.

True Rate: 2.5/5.0

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Flex-Able Leftovers" is an EP release (later re-released as a full-length studio album featuring additional material) by US, California based guitarist Steve Vai. The EP was released through Akashic Records in 1984, while the album re-release was released in 1998 by Epic Records. As the title also suggests the material on the EP/re-release album are leftover tracks from the recording sessions for Vai's debut full-length studio album "Flex-Able" from January 1984. Vai recorded 24 tracks during the sessions, but only picked 11 to be included on the original version of "Flex-Able". A further 8 tracks from the sessions were released as the "Flex-Able Leftovers" EP later that same year, while the 8 tracks from the EP and the remaining 5 leftover tracks finally was released as the "Flex-Able Leftovers" full-length studio album in 1998.

Stylistically the material on this release (both the EP and the album versions) is a continuation of the wacky, comedic, adventurous, and Frank Zappa influenced rock of "Flex-Able". It's actually a bit hard to figure out why Vai picked some of the tracks he did for the debut album, and left some of the tracks from this release out, as all tracks are of a similar quality and style. Some tracks are instrumental while others feature idiosyncratic vocals and quirky lyrics (in the case of opening track "Fuck Yourself" the lyrics are relatively offensive), and while the music on display are a far cry from the virtuoso guitar sound that Vai would be known for on subsequent releases, he still on occasion shows his skills and plays some pretty crazy things. As the material wasn't recorded at a professional recording studio there is an air of demo recording quality to the whole release, but Vai still manages to make the material sound relatively decent. A 3 star (60%) rating is warranted.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

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