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Steve Vai Modern Primitive album cover
3.30 | 14 ratings | 1 reviews | 14% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 - Modern Primitive
1. Bop! (5:38)
2. Dark Matter (3:53)
3. Mighty Messengers (3:57)
4. The Lost Chord (4:09)
5. Upanishads (4:38)
6. Fast Note People (5:54)
7. And We Are One (5:22)
8. Never Forever (5:17)
9. Lights Are On (6:27)
10. No Pockets (4:54)
- Pink And Blows Over:
11. Pink And Blows Over, Pt I (3:21)
12. Pink And Blows Over, Pt II - Mars Attack (13:14)
13. Pink And Blows Over, Pt III (3:31)

Total Time: 70:14

CD 2 - Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)
1. Liberty (2:03)
2. Erotic Nightmares (4:15)
3. The Animal (4:01)
4. Answers (2:56)
5. The Riddle (6:25)
6. Ballerina 12_24 (1:43)
7. For The Love Of God (6:04)
8. The Audience Is Listening (5:30)
9. I would Love To (3:41)
10. Blue Powder (4:44)
11. Greasy Kid's Stuff (2:58)
12. Alien Water Kiss (1:11)
13. Sisters (4:08)
14. Love Secrets (3:41)

Bonus Tracks:
15. Lovely Elixir (5:08)
16. And We Are One Solo #2 (3:31)
17. As Above (2:03)
18. So Below (2:15)

Total Time: 66:14

Line-up / Musicians

Modern Primitive:
- Steve Vai / performer, producer

- Devin Townsend / lead vocals (4)
- Jazz James / lead vocals (11-13)
- Mike Keneally / keyboards (8)
- Tony Mars / keyboards (11-13)
- Dave Weiner / sitar (8)
- Mohini Dey / bass (1)
- Stuart Hamm / bass (3-6,9-13)
- Philip Bynoe / bass (7,8)
- Jeremy Colson / drums (2,7)
- Chris Frazier / drums (3-6,9-13)
- Mike Mangini / drums (8)
- Alvin Chea, Antonio Sol, Fletcher Sheridan, Mandy Vejar, Nayanna Holley / backing vocals (3,6-8,10-13)

Passion and Warfare:
- Steve Vai / guitars, keyboards (3-5,7,11), bass (8,9,11)

- Bob Harris / keyboards (10), backing vocals
- David Rosenthal / keyboards (2,9,13)
- Pia Vai / keyboards (4), backing vocals
- Eventide / synth, Fx (6,12)
- Stuart Hamm / bass
- Chris Frazier / drums (1,2)
- Tris Imboden / drums (7,9)
- Chris Lord-Alge / drum sound (11)
- Nancy Fagan / hysteria vocals (8)
- Jamie Firlotte / boy vocals (8)
- Pam Vai / backing vocals
- Lillian Vai / backing vocals
- Julian Angel Vai / backing vocals
- David Coverdale, and others / backing vocals
- Jeremy Colson / drums (15, 16)
- Philip Bynoe / bass (16)
- Niels Bye Nielsen / orchestration (18)

Releases information

The music on Modern Primitive was either written or recorded in between 1984 and 1990

2xCD Epic ‎- 88985309092 (2016, Europe) Bonus CD with "Passion And Warfare" 25th Anniversary remaster, plus 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to alienshore for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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STEVE VAI Modern Primitive ratings distribution

(14 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

STEVE VAI Modern Primitive reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars For true STEVE VAI fans who have kept up with his output since the beginning, one of the most amazing transmogrifications in music history occurred between his debut album "Flex-Able" and his second "Passion And Warfare." So much so that for much of the time both albums seem to have been recorded by completely different artists, however that's somewhat of an exaggeration since both albums contain more than enough of the trademark VAI-isms that transcend compositional style as well as exhibiting his Zappa roots however the debut was more experimental whereas the sophomore release showcased a much more developed technical shredding style.

This evolution makes more sense with the release of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Passion And Warfare which hit the market in 2016. While VAI has always been generous in the addition of bonus tracks when he re-releases an older album, this one was the greatest gift of all as it came out as basically a double album called MODERN PRIMITIVE / PASSION AND WARFARE (25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION). The unreleased album's worth of material covers those mystery years between his first two albums when he scrapped solo albums in order to work with David Lee Roth and Alcatraz.

A double album indeed as the double CD release contains two cardboard sleeves attached and in yin yang fashion with each side acting as an independent album albeit in Siamese twin fashion. This review will only cover the MODERN PRIMITIVE album since PASSION AND WARFARE will be covered in its own review however i will cover the four bonus tracks attached to the end of P&W. While MODERN PRIMITIVE is indeed technically a bonus album for P&W's 25th Anniversary release, it can also be thought of as an album in its own right since had destiny not intervened, this material very well could've been VAI's second album.

The title MODERN PRIMITIVE refers to the fact that these tracks were started but never finished. VAI wrote "Flex-Able" between the ages of 20-23 and PASSION AND WARFARE between the ages of 27-29. The material on MODERN PRIMITIVE was started when he was between 23-26 but were never finished. At the age of 55, STEVE VAI finally found the time and the excuse to finally complete these tracks and release them as bonus material. Some of the tracks were destined for P&W but didn't make the editing cut and thus sat in the vaults for two decades plus.

Many of these tracks emerged under the intent of being released in a period band called The Classified, a vocal jazz rock group that featured Sue Mathis on keyboards and vocals, Tommy Mars also on keyboards and vocals, Stu Hamm on bass and Chris Frazier on drums. This material was played live at many successful gigs but never recorded at all, so these recordings for the most part were written in the 80s and finally recorded in the second decade of the 21st century. While most of the musicians would return, Sue Mathis did not.

Like "Flex-Able," MODERN PRIMITIVE still exhibits a healthy dose of Zappa influences, especially from the "One Size Fits All" era which becomes quite apparent as the schizoid vocal jazz scat opener "Bop" bursts onto the scene. Belying its title, there is nothing one would consider hard bop in the least but rather immediately provides a link between VAI's first two albums as it retains all the quirky whimsical charm of the debut while developing the technical prowess of the second. How much of this resulted from its initial birth pangs and how much is the addition of VAI's modern perspective will probably remain the biggest mystery of his career.

"Dark Matter" shifts completely in a Hendrix type rocker with a lot more wah-wah and shredding techniques added. Not to mention the PASSION & WARFARE production magic. "Mighty Messengers" musters up the funk bass groove but ultimately becomes a rather by-the-books vocal rock track that exhibits some guitar wankery and sound effects. "The Lost Chord" is one of those cheesy ballads that i find underwhelming and this one is no exception although Devin Townsend is the vocalist. It indeed sounds like some mellow track off one of his albums albeit with VAI's sensual guitar antics. It's ok but seems like a waste of Townsend's dynamic vocal range. "Upanishads" is another chilled out progressive slow burner. It never really goes anywhere despite some guitar soloing. OK and that's it.

"Fast Note People" is yet another chilled out rocker with some snazzy instrumental backing. VAI's vocals turn me off but this has lots of backing vocals and turns into a more Zappa inspired fairy tale of sorts. "And We Are One" is once again a slow chilled out ballad with VAI and a female vocalist performing a duet. Yawn. "Never Forever" finally picks up some steam and sounds like one of those spacey P&W tracks with soaring guitar runs but VAI's weak vocals ruin it for me. "Lights Are On" is finally a true rocker with some real good VAI guitar action going on. It reminds me most of P&W and seems like it was destined for that album but got nixed. It would've fit in perfect and better than weak tracks like " I Would Love To." "No Pockets" sounds completely different and is more of a garage rock track which is a Bob Harris track where he is vocalist.

The final three tracks are the "Pink And Blows Over Suite" with the second part hitting over the thirteen minute mark. "Part 1" slowly fades in with pleasant sound effects and then becomes a female vocalist ballad with lots of smooth backing vocals. Obviously part of the vocal jazz group years. Even this short intro to the suite is rich and dynamic with lots of VAI-esque time signature deviations at his most extreme and a rich lush production that offers beautiful counterpoints to the vocalists. "Part II - Mars Attack" continues seamlessly with the music melody from "The Nutcracker" backed by a deep drone in key. It remains ambient with whistles and in jazzified classical mode with electronic overtures. In fact it sounds more like a show tune piece than anything VAI would have released. There are some stellar classical piano runs but no guitar really. The tempo remains slow and the mood darkened. For an attack from Mars i would expect more musical drama! The shorter "Part III" closer finally picks up the steam and turns into a more festive jazz-rock-funk mood with VAI's sizzling guitar soloing. It ends in the same vocal jazz style that began the three part journey. Probably the best part of the album.

PASSION AND WARFARE is included in its entirety. There was really no need for remastering since the album was cutting edge at its time of original release in 1990 and sounds modern even by today's standards however there are four bonus tracks tacked onto the end. "Lovely Elixir" is a slow guitar ballad. It's like many tracks distributed throughout VAI's musical career and rather uninteresting. "And We Are One (Alternate Solo No. 2)" is pretty much just another version of "And We Are One" from the MODERN PRIMITIVE album. This version is just as slow and uneventful as the original. "As Above" is a resurrected demo and has a military march percussive drive with VAI's soaring guitar sound. Sounds like something that may have been nixed from the original P&W lineup because it sounds a little like its opener "Liberty" but pretty decent overall. "So Below" is actually a Niels Bye Nielsen Orchestration and sounds more like a movie soundtrack in a classic John Williams fashion than a STEVE VAI track. Ok but nothing OMG.

It has to be remembered that this album is a combo package. Although i'm reserving my review for PASSION AND WARFARE on its own page, as a rating these two cannot be separated. P&W is a guitar classic but has some obvious flaws but one that i easily give four stars because the strengths far outweighs the weaknesses. The bonus material on this P&W 25TH ANNIVERSARY album is pretty much throwaway material but the MODERN PRIMITIVE does have some decent stuff on it although nothing that i would consider lost treasures therefore this disc really only deserves a two star rating but since this is a combo package i'll give it all a three. If you already have PASSION AND WARFARE, there's really no need to run and get this if you haven't already. But as a true STEVE VAI fan i feel obliged to have all this extra stuff because of the few interesting tidbits and for those who want some historical context then this one does deliver the goods.

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