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STEVE VAI

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Steve Vai biography
STEVE VAI is one of the greatest guitar players of all time, studied master classes under JOE SATRIANI, and student of the Berklee School of Music, Vai later was invited to join FRANK ZAPPA's band by ZAPPA himself. He was in ZAPPA's group, playing very complex pieces, sometimes even transcribing out ZAPPA's solos and music just to play them live (something he had done in his final year at university according to room-mate Happy The Man's Stan Whitaker). VAI was given the name "Little Italian Virtuoso" and sometimes "Stunt Guitarist" by ZAPPA, because of VAI's technical skill and sounds produced. VAI surely is an incredible guitarist. In 1984 VAI went out on his own and started creating his own albums. VAI also joined ALCATRAZZ and DAVID LEE ROTH to create hard rock music in the vein of VAN HALEN. VAI in 1993 created his rock unit called VAI featuring DEVIN TOWNSEND, T.M. STEVENS and another ZAPPA alumni TERRY BOZZIO. G3 tours also ensued, featuring VAI and SATRIANI and a new guitarist each year, notably ROBERT FRIPP and JOHN PETRUCCI. Since then other solo albums have been issued and VAI has continued to innovate and impress as a great composer and incredible guitar player.

He has guested on number of albums, e.g. along side Al DiMeola (reconstructing Al's "Race With The Devil On Turkish Highway") and on the critically acclaimed Indo jazz fusion album by Surinder Sandhu, 'Surang Orchestra', where Vai plays the closest you find to jazz, (e.g. playing duets with jazz saxophonist Andy Shepherd).

VAI's big albums are "Flex-Able", his first landmark debut album and the incredible "Passion and Warfare".

VAI is highly recommended to any guitar player (if somehow you don't already know him), and any fan of great guitar and rock composition in the vein of ZAPPA.



Why this artist must be listed in www.progarchives.com :
Progressive guitar composer and Zappa alumni.



Discography:
Flex-Able (1984)
Passion and Warfare (1990)
Sex & Religion (1993)
Alien Love Secrets (1995)
Fire Garden (1996)
Alien Love Secrets [Video] (1997)
Flex-Able Leftovers (1998)
The 7th Song (2000)
Alive in an Ultra World (2001)
Real Illusions: Reflections (2005)
The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1 (2002)
Mystery Tracks Archives, Vol. 3 (2003)
The Infinite Steve Vai: An Anthology (2003)
Live at the Astoria (2003)

Steve Vai official website

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Modern Primitive / Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)Modern Primitive / Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)
Sony Legacy 2016
Audio CD$10.27
$9.47 (used)
Passion And WarfarePassion And Warfare
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2010
Audio CD$2.82
$2.80 (used)
Fire GardenFire Garden
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2008
Audio CD$2.86
$1.86 (used)
Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A.Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A.
Multiple Formats
Sony Legacy 2015
DVD$12.67
$6.79 (used)
Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A.Stillness in Motion: Vai Live in L.A.
Sony Legacy 2015
Audio CD$7.49
$6.92 (used)
The 7th Song - Enchanting Guitar Melodies (Archives Vol. 1)The 7th Song - Enchanting Guitar Melodies (Archives Vol. 1)
SBME SPECIAL MKTS. 2007
Audio CD$3.98
$11.76 (used)
Sex & ReligionSex & Religion
Relativity
Vinyl$59.99
$159.00 (used)
Mystery Tracks - Archives Vol. 3Mystery Tracks - Archives Vol. 3
Favored Nations 2003
Audio CD$3.33
$2.06 (used)
Archives, Vol. 4Archives, Vol. 4
Import
Favored Nations 2005
Audio CD$20.59
$14.99 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Passion and Warfare Steve Vai Good Used CD Relativity Label USD $10.00 Buy It Now
Steve Vai ** GUITAR TABS * Lesson Software CD- (132 Songs) USD $6.95 Buy It Now
AS AN AM BY FRANK ZAPPA (CD-1991 FOO-EEE/RHINO) WITH STEVE VAI/RAY WHITE USD $47.99 Buy It Now
CD STEVE VAI Fire Garden MINT USD $5.00 Buy It Now
JOE SATRIANI/ERIC JOHNSOIN/STEVE VAI - G3 LIVE IN CONCERT (EU CD) USD $4.83 [0 bids]
Frank Zappa Tinseltown Rebellion Cassette Tape Holland CBS 1981 88516 Steve Vai USD $19.99 Buy It Now
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Steve Vai Where The Wild Things Are CD album (CDLP) Japanese promo SICP-2374 USD $26.85 Buy It Now 1h 36m
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2h 58m
Steve Vai-Mystery Tracks Archives Vol. 3 CD NEW USD $15.73 Buy It Now 3h 25m
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Alcatrazz -Disturbing the Peace[1985](Japan Import CD,1995 Capitol)Stev USD $40.00 Buy It Now 5h 43m
Real Illusions: Reflections by Steve Vai (CD, Feb-2005, WK) USD $9.99 Buy It Now 5h 48m
LEARN TO PLAY STEVE VAI VOL 3 GUITAR LICK LIBRARY DVD USD $30.69 Buy It Now 6h 52m
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CD Japan 2016 Steve Vai Modern Primitive / Passion And Warfare 25th Anniversary USD $48.60 Buy It Now 6h 58m
Steve Vai - Alive In An Ultra World (Cassette) Russia SEALED USD $24.50 Buy It Now 7h 19m
Steve Vai Passion And Warfare CD Epic 1997 USD $3.99 [0 bids]
7h 50m
Steve Vai - The 7th Song: Enchanting Guitar Melodies Archives Vol.1 (MC) Russia USD $16.50 Buy It Now 8h 2m
ERIC SARDINAS Treat Me Right JAPAN CD Johnny Winter Hubert Sumlin Steve Vai USD $31.80 Buy It Now 9h 20m
Steve Vai ?Flex-Able Leftovers Japan CD USD $19.99 Buy It Now 10h 16m
Steve Vai Alien Love Secrets Japan CD USD $19.99 Buy It Now 10h 16m
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STEVE VAI FLEX-ABLE LEFTOVERS 1998 JAPAN CD OBI 2520yen 1ST PRESS USD $29.99 Buy It Now 12h 55m
Joe Satriani Surfing with the Alien LP vinyl record sealed reissue steve vai USD $34.95 Buy It Now 17h 57m
Flex-Able by Steve Vai (CD, Jun-1997, Sony Music Distribution (USA)) USD $10.57 Buy It Now 18h 23m
Steve Vai - Alive In An Ultra World (2 x CD, 2001) USD $7.48 Buy It Now 20h 33m
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Steve Vai - Passion and Warefare - 1990 Relativity - 88561-1037-2 USD $3.99 Buy It Now 21h 34m
Steve Vai : 7th Song: Enchanting Guitar Melodies USD $1.24 [0 bids]
22h 43m
JOE SATRIANI - The Extremist RARE OOP 10Trk 1992/1997 CD EX Remastered Steve Vai USD $0.99 [0 bids]
23h 10m
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1 day
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1 day
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USD $3.84 Buy It Now
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STEVE VAI discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

STEVE VAI top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.60 | 63 ratings
Flex-Able
1984
3.59 | 127 ratings
Passion And Warfare
1990
3.15 | 88 ratings
Sex & Religion (as Vai)
1993
3.88 | 88 ratings
Fire Garden
1996
3.64 | 75 ratings
The Ultra Zone
1999
3.88 | 76 ratings
Real Illusions: Reflections
2005
4.18 | 55 ratings
The Story Of Light
2012
3.75 | 8 ratings
Modern Primitive / Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)
2016

STEVE VAI Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.77 | 40 ratings
Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Vai - G3 Live In Concert
1997
3.96 | 26 ratings
Alive in an Ultra World
2001
2.95 | 24 ratings
Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen- G3 Rockin' In The Free World
2004
3.64 | 16 ratings
Live In London
2004
3.30 | 35 ratings
John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani- G3 Live In Tokyo
2005
3.79 | 24 ratings
Sound Theories Vol. I & II
2007
4.71 | 22 ratings
Where The Wild Things Are
2009
3.32 | 9 ratings
Where The Other Wild Things Are
2010
3.12 | 7 ratings
Stillness In Motion: Vai Live in L.A.
2015

STEVE VAI Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.06 | 15 ratings
G3: Live in Concert
2000
3.91 | 24 ratings
Live At The Astoria
2003
4.56 | 21 ratings
Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Yngwie Malmsteen- G3 Live In Denver
2004
4.24 | 15 ratings
G3: Live in Tokyo
2005
4.58 | 12 ratings
Visual Sound Theories
2007
4.96 | 19 ratings
Where The Wild Things Are
2009
5.00 | 2 ratings
Stillness In Motion: Vai Live in L.A.
2015

STEVE VAI Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.45 | 20 ratings
The 7th Song: Enchanting Guitar Melodies - Archives Vol. 1
2000
3.33 | 17 ratings
The Elusive Light And Sound Vol. 1
2001
3.50 | 10 ratings
The Infinite Steve Vai - An Antology
2003
3.20 | 5 ratings
Archives, Vol.3: Mystery Tracks
2003
3.77 | 7 ratings
Archives Vol.4: Various Artists
2003

STEVE VAI Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.53 | 26 ratings
Flex-Able Leftovers
1984
3.50 | 43 ratings
Alien Love Secrets
1995
2.14 | 3 ratings
Without Me
2010

STEVE VAI Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Infinite Steve Vai - An Antology by VAI, STEVE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
3.50 | 10 ratings

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The Infinite Steve Vai - An Antology
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

3 stars It always seems a little redundant writing reviews for compilations, but what the heck. They serve a purpose, after all. A good compilation should serve as a broad overview of an artist's output, with all their most popular hits, while also acting as a bit of teaser, enticing you to explore their back catalogue a little deeper. And this anthology does each of these quite well.

With two full discs of music, there's plenty of material for newfound Vai fans to sink their teeth into here. The tracks included were compiled from the bulk of Vai's career, with songs included from each of his studio albums from 1984 to 2003. That isn't all, of course, with a few live cuts ("Giant Balls of Gold", "Whispering A Prayer") thrown in for good measure, as well as the hair metal rocker "Kittens Got Claws" by Whitesnake, and "Lighter Shade of Green", a solo instrumental Vai recorded during his stint with Alcatrazz.

As far as Vai's solo career, I'm generally satisfied with the inclusions. All of his most famous material, like "For The Love of God", is included. There's also quite an exhaustive representation of the many different sides to his career. There are hard rock shredder tracks, succulent prog material like "Liberty", "The Riddle" and "Fire Garden Suite", a handful of ballads, and even the vaguely Zappa-like "Salamanders In The Sun". There are some questionable exclusions, of course, such as the shred-tastic, humorously autobiographical "The Audience Is Listening", as well as other less famous but still notable tracks, such as "Juice", "Hand On Heart", or "Erotic Nightmares".

For potential buyers, it's worth noting that in 2011 Sony BMG re- released this two-disc set, with the same track listing, as "The Essential Steve Vai". In all, this is a solid release as far as compilations go. I'd recommend this as a good introduction to Vai's music. And even then, it's not just "Vai 101"; this anthology includes some bonus-y material that established fans may not have been able to get their hands from the studio releases.

 Fire Garden by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.88 | 88 ratings

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Fire Garden
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars If you're a fan or electric guitar, it's hard to do better than Steve Vai's signature sound of artsy and playful hard-rock. If you're already a fan of Vai, it's hard to do better than Fire Garden. This record is a total package: it's got memorable songs filled with slinky cool jams and savage riffing, guitar virtuosity that's unabashedly complex and weird and energetic, and an overall style that just plain cooks.

Vai opens the album with three fantastic hard-rock songs. The rip-roaring "There's a Fire in the House," solo-heavy "Crying Machine," and many-textured "Dyin' Day." Great stuff, busy and personality-filled, with a crisp production. A few heavy, experimental, and romantic moments follow this completely instrumental first half, culminating in the massive "Fire Garden Suite." It's the album's showcase, and may be the most 'prog' sound that Vai has yet produced. It sprawls across sounds and influences rapidly and with gusto, cramming tons of wonderful moments into its 10-minute running time. One of the best song's that Vai has recorded, which is saying something.

The second half is slightly more "normal," with Vai handling vocal duties, quite well, with the ballads "All about Eve" and "Brother" standing out. Instrumentally this album is pretty much flawless. Vai's supporting band is great, but stick to the background, while the songwriting varies. This is especially apparent in the second-half, which strikes me as being the left-over ideas. However, even the more conventional songs are completely energized by Vai's guitar playing and the band's overall feel.

By the end of Fire Garden you'll be a believer. A great starting place to discover this exceptional musician.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 The Ultra Zone by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.64 | 75 ratings

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The Ultra Zone
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Guitar-virtuoso Steve Vai sends us another collection of excellent, personality-filled, artful hard rock jamming with Ultra Zone, his 5th release. More so than his other works that I've heard, this one is all about Steve's fingers doing crazy things to his guitar. Half of the songs on this album are instrumental set pieces, each with a distinct vibe and varying shred-factor. Vai is a killer player, and if you're into guitar and rock, it's hard to be disappointed. Each of these instrumentals (which take up the entire first side of the album), are crisp, modern, and filled with personality. While none of it is especially daring or experimental from a songwriting perspective, Steve's playing makes them a lot of fun; great for some rocking background grooves, but also creative enough to reward careful listening. Some make more of an impact than others, but all are solid. Vai handles vocals for the remaining songs, which are also great. There's an inherent likability when it comes to Vai's playing that makes this work easy to enjoy.

For many listeners, Ultra Zone will be a fun rock album with crazy guitar effects; for musicians aficionados, it could be an academic experience. I sit somewhere in the middle. I had a lot of fun with Ultra Zone, but was left wanting more in terms of scope or composition. That seems crazy to say, given Vai's pedigree, but I didn't feel a sense of build or drama with this release; each song could be taken on its own, and while a great experience when taken in isolation, the album as a whole doesn't drive home a musical message beyond a sense of playfulness. This isn't a bad thing, just something that makes Ultra Zone a good but not great release for me. Lots of fun when the mood strikes.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

 The Story Of Light by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.18 | 55 ratings

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The Story Of Light
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Under rated guitar virtuoso and solo artist Steve Vai offers us an exceptional listening experience with the diverse, thoughtful, and exciting Story of Light. It's ambitious without feeling bloated, artistic without pretense, and enthusiastic without instrumental excess. While Vai is perhaps best known to readers here at the Archives as a supporting player during Zappa's final era, he's earned is place as a solo artist to our attention thanks to a collection of consistently fine - to outstanding - solo releases, and this one may be his best to date.

Story of Light opens in grand, dramatic fashion with the highly layered and impeccably produced title track. While I can't find a translation to the Russian narration that drifts in and out of the foreground, we can assume that they're dealing with the album's concept of enlightenment and truth (per interviews with Vai). What's more interesting to me is the stellar guitar and synth playing. Vai's soloing is complex, crisp, snappy, and highly polished. For many, this kind of playing is the reason for listening, and Vai doesn't disappoint.

We get more balls to the wall guitar showcases during the heavy chugging and thoughtful tempo breaks in "Velorum," and in the heavy, sassy, "Gravity Storm." Vai will crush you with walls of sound that are complex and engaging and thoughtful all at once. Some of the best playing on the album and pure guitar bad-assery.

The boogie-woogie-metal-rock-gospel combination of "John the Revelator" and "Book of the Seven Seals" is an unexpected surprise, and is just plain a blast to listen to. It's an eclectic diversion that is just perfect; it makes you say, "what the heck is this... holy cow, what's happening... holy cow this is amazing!" It lasts just long enough to leave you wanting more, which, when combined with a handful of lush, down-tempo jams that round out the album, is exactly how I feel about Vai's music in general.

Story of Light is a ton of fun and shouldn't be missed by any guitar fan interested in some artistic razzle-dazzle the spice up their hard rock!

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 5 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

 Fire Garden by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.88 | 88 ratings

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Fire Garden
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

4 stars This album is so close to being a 5 star one that it really pains me to give it anything lower, especially considering it's probably one of my 20 favourite albums, but I will make my case.

With a close second of "Passion And Warfare", "Fire Garden" is Steve Vai's best work; at least of those I've heard, anyway. A progressive smorgasbord with eclectic styles, virtuoso performances and unparalleled songwriting in Vai's catalog, this is stellar album, plain and simple. Well, maybe not so plain and simple, as the complexity of the music would suggest.

The first half of the album hits the ground running with the heavy metal "There's A Fire In The House". A thrilling start! Not only is the song a shredding showcase, it also features a blistering drum solo from Chris Frazier and begins to hint at Steve's production talents with its seamless use of effects. "The Crying Machine" and "Dyin' Day" are both two more emotive pieces that follow, the former a Santana-esque world fusion latin rock groove and the latter a stirring ballad co-penned by Ozzy Osbourne.

Following some raw-yet-sophisticated rock numbers, "Hand On Heart" begins, providing what is likely Steve Vai's most emotionally powerful ballad. A slow-building, cathartic spectacle, it is the one song on "Fire Garden" that is not to be missed by anyone. But just as soon as it ends, it is matched in quality by the progressive epic "Bangkok/Fire Garden Suite".

"Bangkok" offers humble but riveting beginnings with its minute-long crescendo of mosquitoes and development of Eastern music themes before seguing into the uptempo hard rock "Bull Whip", which starts off the title track suite. The oriental motifs continue with the Indian- style "Pusa Road" and "Angel Food" continues to build the piece with its playful piano and acoustic guitar trade-offs that eventually build into a spirited united musical force. If Vai ended the song here, I would have been completely satisfied. But instead he chooses to round out the suite with its finest movement, the metal "Taurus Bulba". This is probably the finest piece of music in Steve's catalog, offering his trademark fretboard mastery while following in the 70's symphonic tradition with seamless time and key changes. And it never descends into self-indulgence, either; it is an artfully balanced work on par with "Close To The Edge" and other greats from the classic prog era.

After "Fire Garden Suite" comes to an end, the album's only flaw avails: the fact that it continues. Had Steve chosen to end the album with the instrumental "phase 1" and save "phase 2" for another day, it would have greatly improved the album overall. Phase 2, while not terrible, isn't nearly at the same caliber of musicianship. The album's last 9 tracks are mostly vocal numbers and while Steve is a pretty good singer, most of the songs included here are just typical rock or metal numbers and "When I Was A Little Boy" is the sort of quirky silliness that I wish he had left on "Flex-Able".

There are some exceptions, though; "All About Eve" is another slow, moving ballad with good lyrics, "Warm Regards" is another solid instrumental ballad and "Genocide" is the best vocal track on the album. With a solid, mechanical drum beat and chanting vocals that build to a stunning coda, this is another work not to be missed in Vai's discography.

So while the first 9 tracks of "Fire Garden" are 5 star material, the 2 to 3 star second half drags this down to just a very, very good album. It is one that I would still highly recommend to any prog fan, whether they're a fan of classic or modern prog. This is a gem not to be missed!

 Alien Love Secrets by VAI, STEVE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1995
3.50 | 43 ratings

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Alien Love Secrets
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator 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.

 Flex-Able Leftovers by VAI, STEVE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1984
2.53 | 26 ratings

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Flex-Able Leftovers
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Magnum Vaeltaja
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

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.

 Flex-Able by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.60 | 63 ratings

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Flex-Able
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Flex-able is under-rated guitar virtuoso Steve Vai's first solo album, featuring a enjoyable mash-up of song styles and instrumental playing. While it's not exactly a guitar clinic or instrumental showcase, it is completely fun, infectious, and energetic.

Zappa's influence on Vai is all over this album; in fact, if one didn't know better, the album's opener "Little Green Men" could be mistaken for a lost Zappa track. It's a jaunty, highly complex and orchestrated song with diverse instrumentation like flutes and vibes. There's even an enjoyable send up of the Close Encounter's melody. This and the rapidly shifting time signatures and playful vocals/characterizations make a great first impression. It's a fun track that is cheesy enough to enjoy at a superficial level, but such a dense composition that there's actually a lot going on behind the surface. This description goes for much of the album.

That's not to say that Vai is just ripping off Zappa. There is a distinct guitar signature that we hear throughout on later songs. There are numerous instrumental transitions that show off Vai's ambitious and almost vocalized guitar sound. There's no shredding or in your face solos, just a lot of nice axe work incorporated into the fun vibe of these songs. I guess I'd call Vai's guitar playing as being sassy, as we hear in the apply named "Attitude Song". The Zappa influence acknowledged, I actually found just as much Fripp influence as well, as Vai's creativity comes across as the sort of tangled guitar sound we hear on Crimson's excellent Discipline album. Even Flex-able's "pop" songs, "Lover's Are Crazy" and "The Boy/The Girl Song" are too weird for most casual music fans to enjoy.

The lengthiest song on this album, "Junkie Song" is hilarious. It sounds like a send-up of a musical, or film score, and features an open-ended solo filled with crazy effects, bends, time changes, etc. A great song.

With Vai's excellent playing, a great supporting band, fun mix of songs, and hilarious exuberance, Flex-Able comes highly recommended for rock fans in the mood to have a good time enjoying experimental, warm, and eclectic music.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay:5

 Stillness In Motion: Vai Live in L.A. by VAI, STEVE album cover Live, 2015
3.12 | 7 ratings

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Stillness In Motion: Vai Live in L.A.
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars With 30-some years under his belt since his remarkable debut with Frank Zappa's band, Steve Vai has developed a lot of consistency in his albums and live performances. You know you are going to get guitar pyrotechnics of the highest order, sounds that very few other guitarists can even dream of matching. And on this live album, he does not disappoint.

The problem is that I must compare this album to his previous live releases, "Where The Wild Things Are" and "Where The Other Wild Things Are". The most obvious change in the bands is that the dual violinists on the 2009 albums have been replaced with the extraordinary harpist and keyboard player Deborah Henson-Conant. And while I love her playing on her own albums, The harp, for the most part gets lost under the barrage of Vai's metal fusion. At most times the only way the harp can be heard is through headphones, and even then what she is actually playing is barely, if at all discernable.

Nonetheless, the album is a good set of Vai's music, expertly played.

Highlights are:

Gravity Storm, that uses heaviness and wildly bent guitar and bass that makes you feel like you are getting sucked into the core of a black hole.

John The Revelator a call-and-response gospel song, that even impresses this atheist.

An acoustic set on disk 2, beginning with Rescue Me or Bury Me shows that Vai is just as impressive without his electric tools.

Frank gives Vai a chance to solo in the style of his late mentor. And he does it beautifully.

If any other guitarist had created an album of this quality, I would give it four stars, but since this one is a half-step down from what I think is Vai's best, I must rate it 3.5 (rounded down).

 The Ultra Zone by VAI, STEVE album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.64 | 75 ratings

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The Ultra Zone
Steve Vai Prog Related

Review by Chicapah
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This is the third of Steve's albums that I've had the pleasure to know. My other reviews of his records will inform you of the immense respect I have for him and musicians of his caliber who are able to transcend the label of being merely "pretty damn good" and soar into the realm of "holy crap incredible." To say that Vai is that kinda guy is to venture into the area known as the blatantly obvious. His mastery over the guitar frequently causes my stubbly jaw to drop. And he ain't just doing slight-of-hand studio tricks. I caught one of his concerts not long ago on the boob tube and I sat in amazement at the sounds he was coaxing out of his instrument in a live setting. Having said that, it's one thing to be proficient and another to be creative. A typical first chair violinist can play a difficult concerto by Mozart with his eyes closed yet not be able to conjure up an original musical idea on the order of "Wild Thing" even if his life depended on it. So, in order to be a complete package of skill and imagination, one must be gifted in both camps. Steve Vai is and his impressive "Ultra Zone" stands as proof positive.

He opens with the Indian-tinged "The Blood Tears," a curious blend of female spoken and sung segments weaving over, under and around a basic rock beat. The intriguing platform this song stands on promises that surprising things are in store for the listener. Steve's playing is clean and somewhat reserved throughout the tune, as if he were warming up in the bullpen. "The Ultra Zone" is next whereupon metallic, percussive thuds precede the number's launch into an up-tempo pace. Here Vai is adventurously dabbling into world rhythms and I commend him for it but it's his stunning guitar virtuosity that rivets my attention over all else. "Oooo" follows and it's a killer cut. Growling guitars are always a plus in my book but the witty and highly enjoyable Zappa-esque interludes push the song into the territory of the sublime. It has a strange arrangement (in a good way) while it wisely retains its melodic charms from beginning to end. Speaking of the late, great bearded wonder, Steve honors FZ with the heartfelt "Frank." His playing in this heavy ballad is quite beautiful without ever becoming wearily saccharine. The regal subtleties in Vai's performance add a touch of grace and class rarely found in Progland, making this tune the highlight of the record.

Steve pays tribute to Stevie (another icon taken from us too soon) on "Jibboon" by building the number upon a simple blues progression and then proceeding to blast a hole in the studio wall with a stream of spectacular six-string salvos. Even a novice guitarist can appreciate that this is a mad genius at work who has few peers. It sizzles. "Voodoo Acid" is next and its expected weird vibe suggested by the title doesn't disappoint. Thank heavens Vai's rhythmic narration stops short of falling into a rap trap. It's more along the lines of poetic story-telling than that. All in all it comes off as a fun experiment that turned out to be comprehensible and, since it never tries to become "scary," it's a loopy trip into surrealism. "Windows to the Soul" is a bright gem. Its semi-mellow groove in 6/4 time supports Steve's stratospheric guitar manipulations perfectly. This song efficiently displays the profound emotions that can be expressed through even the simplest of instruments when wielded by a maximally talented artist. "The Silent Within" follows and it succeeds in capitalizing on the momentum generated by its predecessor. It's another Indian-influenced piece but Vai adds an engaging vocal track that sets it apart from the album's curtain-raiser. The tune's clever harmony schemes and smartly orchestrated spurts of aural color add undiluted excitement.

"I'll Be Around" doesn't fare as well. It's a love song and, understandably, is inherently conservative and predictable. It's akin to what Dream Theater sounds like when they chill out but it pales in comparison to the other tracks. "Lucky Charms" is next and it does a superb job of allowing the record to quickly regain its traction. Possessing an incurably uplifting melody line delightfully augmented by sharp brass, it really spotlights Steve's versatility and willingness to shift gears at a moment's notice. After a thrilling start it morphs into a syncopated funk segment and then evolves into a movement involving stirring symphonic passages that'll keep you wondering where he's going next. This number is a truly impressive example of ingenuous prog rock done right. "Fever Dreams" is another of my favorites. Its smooth but zippy pace sustains the abrupt changes in mood that arise over and over. With Vai the tones he produces are so extraordinary that sometimes I forget it's a guitar he's playing and this is one of those instances as his innovative forays flourish and thrive. "Here I Am" is little more than an old-fashioned rawker with a decent lead vocal supplied by Mister Vai (who's no slouch in that department). Unfortunately, the song lacks the strong hook required to make it memorable. The vocal-heavy "Asian Sky" is the caboose on this train, a hard-hitting tune with a big, Styx-styled chorus that falls far short of inducing the intended goose bumps. Luckily for us Steve tosses in a spirited head-cutting sequence wherein he duels with himself to blazing results but I'm glad that he put this one last.

Face it, Steve Vai is a freak of nature who received a lion's share of the guitar-playing genes in his DNA design. I and 99.999% of the axe men in the world have no earthly idea how he does what he does so well but we can't deny the fact that what we hear him do so consistently is the real McCoy. He can play like an angel or a demon depending on what's required and he makes music that appeals to both aficionados of the genre and the most naïve of its adherents at the same time. No easy feat, that. "The Ultra Zone" is a stellar work created by a remarkable savant. 4.2 stars.

Thanks to dick heath for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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