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Steve Vai - Alien Love Secrets CD (album) cover


Steve Vai


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3.49 | 52 ratings

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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.

TCat | 3/5 |


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