Steve Vai - Appreciation and Album thread *

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by mark winstanley, Feb 4, 2020.

  1. Fonz

    Fonz Forum Resident

    Both my sisters got married in '06.

    I took a load of photos of the occaisions, and made slideshows (just for the family) which I put on disc. Don't tell anyone, but I used Sisters (from P&W and Piano Reductions vol.1) as the background music.
    Perfect music for my nearest and dearest.

    Another great example of Steve at his 'non-flash' best (though 30 years on I still can't play it!).

    I agree with you about the JEMs. Such wonderful instruments.
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  2. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Love Secrets
    The percussion at the start is very Zappa-ish. We move into this layered, almost confused sounding piece of music. Then we move into a section that is guitar and percussion that really exemplifies this confused sound ... and I reckon that may be the point of the track really, love is very confusing in just about every way. It has an almost soundtrack, almost nightmare type of feeling, and a melody tries to break through the confusion.
    This is one of the tracks that is probably closer to one of the Flex-able tracks in its somewhat experimental nature.
    A really interesting way to end the album.

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  3. Anthrax

    Anthrax Forum Resident

    I find Love Secrets to be a perfect closer for this album. It's not just another guitar track, but a cauldron of sensations in a cosmic rollercoaster that could go off the rails any second. In itself it's music as an experience, but at the same time it's an expression of experiences all condensed to form a piece of music, and the form Vai gives it, this whirlwind of sounds, is an appropriate frame serving as more than mere function. The vertigo this piece gives you is something akin as to what one's supposed to feel the closer one is to the mysteries of life, the universe and everything. The more attention you pay, the more it takes your breath away.

    When it ends, you're left reeling. What did just happen?

    Indeed. The first time I heard Zappa's G-Spot Tornado, that percussion intro reminded me immediately of the percussion intro to Love Secrets. I'd bet the similarity isn't just coincidence.
  4. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Nice run down mate. I was kind of at a loss as to what to say.
    Miles1968 likes this.
  5. tlake6659

    tlake6659 Forum Resident

    Are you going to cover the bonus tracks on the recent release/remaster of Passion and Warfare?
    mark winstanley likes this.
  6. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    I have never heard any of them, but tomorrow we'll start looking at those
    Miles1968 likes this.
  7. Fonz

    Fonz Forum Resident

    I think Anthrax nailed ‘Love Secrets’ perfectly.
    It’s never been my favourite track on the album, but where there’s so much going on, I discover something new each time I listen to it, which makes it a ‘grower’, and as you say, the perfect way to end the record.
    mark winstanley likes this.
  8. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Lovely Elixir
    Wow, the opening already makes me wish I had known about these tracks.... These are totally new to me. I wasn't aware of an extended issues, and this is my first listen.
    I love that opening, powerful, musical and instantly draws me in.
    I like the somewhat straight guitar that we go to after that. Also the musical backing is very well balanced and suits the beautiful melancholy melody that the song rests on.
    I am glad I didn't have to choose the tracks to go on this album, because this is great, and I would have been hard pressed to leave it off.

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  9. Fonz

    Fonz Forum Resident

    Yeah, Lovely Elixir is a splendid melody. Very definitely worthy of inclusion on P&W.

    I'm not sure when exactly it was recorded. It wouldn't surprise me if the basic tracks were contemporaneous to the others on P&W, but to my ears Steve's tone is 21st century...
    mark winstanley likes this.
  10. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    And We Are One (alt. solo #2)
    Again completely new to me, but this instantly rings with a beautiful melodic lead guitar. The playing is of course second to none, and this is no shred fest although there are certainly some sensational bits of playing.
    This track really shows why Vai is the master of the Whammy/Vibrato bar. The control and the melodic usage of the bar here is probably among the most controlled and accurate uses I have ever heard.
    This is really just a nice backing track with Steve playing some amazing guitar. I can see why it wouldn't have ended up on the album, but I can also hear why it could have ended up on the album. In spite of it's lead break basis, the melodic structure is quite beautiful and I really like this.
    I believe we get a vocal variation of the track much later in the catalog on Modern Primative.

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  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    As Above (demo)
    This starts with a thumping kick and some sfx. Then it surprisingly moves into a piece of music that sounds like it could have been put together by Brian May.
    This has an orchestral feel, and an almost pomp and ceremony thing going on.
    For just some left over piece of demo it is quite remarkable

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  12. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    So Below (Niels by Nielson Orchestra)
    This sounds like a piece of soundtrack music, and the arrangement is very involving, and the melodic themes entwine beautifully.
    I would certainly be interested if any of you guys have any back story/information on this one.

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  13. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Steve Vai - a rough history
    The JEM guitar
    Talking about Zappa
    Some guitar techniques

    Stevie's Spanking with Zappa 1981

    May 1981 Zappa Tinseltown Rebellion
    Fine Girl
    Easy Meat
    For The Young Sophisticate
    Love Of My Life
    Ain't Got No Heart
    Panty rap, Tell me you love me, Now You See it now You don't, Dance Contest, Blue Light, Tinseltown Rebellion, Pick Me I'm clean
    Bamboozeld By Love, Brown Shoes Don't Make It, Peaches 3

    1981 - Shut Up And Play Yer guitar - Frank Zappa Guitar Book

    sept 1981 Zappa You Are What You Is

    Teenage Wind
    Harder Than Your Husband
    Doreen, Goblin Girl, Theme From the 3rd movement of sinister footwear
    Society Pages, I'm A beautiful Guy, Beauty Knows No Pain
    Charlies enormous mouth, Any Downers, Conehead, You Are What You Is
    You Are What You Is - video
    Mudd Club, The Meek Shall Inherit Nothing, Dumb All Over
    Heavenly Bank Account, Suicide Chump, Jumbo Go Away, If Only She Woulda, Drafted Again

    NYC Palladium 1981 - with Zappa

    May 1982 Zappa Ship Arriving Too Late to Save A Drowning Witch
    No Not Now
    Valley Girl
    I Come From Nowhere
    Drowning Witch
    Teenage Prostitute

    Mar 1983 Zappa Man From Utopia
    Cocaine Decisions
    The Dangerous Kitchen
    Tink Walks Amok
    The Radio Is Broken
    The Man From Utopia Meets Mary Lou
    Stick Together
    Jazz Discharge Party Hats
    We Are Not Alone

    Jan 1984 Zappa Flex-able + leftovers
    Little Green Men
    Viv Woman
    Lovers Are Crazy
    Salamanders In The Sun
    Boy/Girl Song
    The Attitude Song
    Call It Sleep
    Bill's Private Parts
    Next Stop Earth
    There's Something Dead In Here
    Flex-able Leftovers
    You Didn't Break it
    Bledsoe Blvd
    The Beast Of Love
    Burnin' Down The Mountain
    So Happy
    Details At 10
    Little Pieces Of Seaweed
    Chronic Insomnia

    Oct 1984 Alcatrazz - Power Live dvd

    Oct 1984 Zappa - Them Or Us

    The Closer You Are
    In France
    Ya Hozna
    Sinister Footwear II
    Truck Driver Divorce
    Stevie's Spanking - live Vai and Zappa jam
    Baby Take Your Teeth Out
    Marque-son's Chicken
    Planet Of My Dreams
    Be In My Video
    Them Or Us
    Frogs With Dirty Little Lips
    Whipping Post

    March 1985 Alcatrazz Disturbing The Peace
    God Blessed Video
    Mercy - actual song
    Will You Be Home Tonight
    Wire And Wood
    Desert Diamond
    Painted Lover
    A Lighter Shade Of Green
    Sons And Lovers
    Breaking The Heart Of The City - live

    Vai Live at the Spirit Club 1985

    Nov 1985 Frank Zappa - Meets The Mothers Of Prevention
    We're Turning Again
    Alien Orifice
    Yo Cats
    What's New In Baltimore
    Little Beige Samb
    Porn Wars
    Aerobics In Bondage
    I Don't Even Care
    One Man One Vote

    Jan 1986 Public Image Limited (PIL) - Album

    Western Vacation

    July 86 Eat Em And Smile
    Yankee Rose
    Shy Boy
    I'm Easy
    Ladies Night In Buffalo - correction
    Goin Crazy
    Tobacco road (Spanish)
    Big Trouble
    Elephant Gun
    Big Trouble
    Bump And Grind
    That's Life

    Live In Detroit 86
    Live In Montreal 86

    1986 The Crossroads dual

    1988 Skyscraper
    Just Like Paradise
    Bottom Line
    Damn Good
    Hot Dog And A Shake
    Stand Up
    Perfect Timing
    Two Fools Born A Minute

    Nov 1989 Whitesnake Slip Of The Tongue
    Slip Of The Tongue
    Cheap N Nasty
    Fool For Your Lovin'
    Now You're Gone
    Kittens Got Claws
    Wings Of The Storm
    Deeper The Love
    Judgement Day
    Slow Poke Music
    Sailing Ships
    b-side Sweet Lady Luck

    May 1990 Passion And Warfare
    Erotic Nightmares
    The Animal
    The Riddle
    Ballerina 12/24
    For the Love Of God
    The Audience Is Listening
    I Would Love To
    Blue Powder
    Greasy Kids Stuff
    Alien Water Kiss
    Love Secrets
    extra tracks - Love Elixir, And We Are One, As Above, So Below

    For The Love Of God -live with the Metropole Orchestra
  14. Anthrax

    Anthrax Forum Resident

    Those bonus tracks on Passion And Warfare... I don't know when they come from, but since the remastered P&W was released paired with Modern Primitive, and since Modern Primitive is made up of old pieces refurbished and finished only recently, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case with the bonus tracks as well. Personally, I think they belong on some other "leftovers" collection - P&W is so well constructed as it is that anything added at the end after Love Secrets will feel tacked on.

    And by the way, if anyone here is not sure about Modern Primitive, stop doubting. Get it now, thank me later.
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  15. Fonz

    Fonz Forum Resident

    Absolutely! P&W should have been left alone. Love Secrets was the perfect finale.
    mark winstanley likes this.
  16. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    I haven't got the anniversary edition or whatever ... I often don't listen to bonus tracks anyway
  17. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Post Passion and Warfare Steve did some tracks for movies and a track for someone called Rebecca called Super Girl.... and a lot of the movie stuff will be on Elusive Light And Sound when we look at it.

    The big hoo haa was when Alice Cooper's Hey Stoopid came out and there was much noise about Vai and Satriani playing together on Feed My Frankenstein..... I like Cooper, and have most of his albums, but I got rid of this album, and the Vai, Satriani thing just depressed me, because I guessed that the shark had not only jumped, but had been .... well this is a family site, so we'll leave it there.
    Listening now it sounds ok, but at the time I really really hated this.

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  18. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    On to bigger and better things
    Much bigger and much better

    Steve put together a great band after the Passion and Warfare album, and officially leaving Whitesnake.
    The band
    Vai got TM Stevens on bass. Terry Bozzio jumped in from the Zappa days on the drums, and a young Canadian called Devin Townsend came along as well.
    For anyone interested here is the Devin Townsend album thread (minus Strapping Young Lad)

    The industry desperately wanted a follow up to Passion and Warfare, because that's how the industry works ...

    Here are Steve's notes on Vai, the band and the recording

    "After the success of Passion and Warfare, there was pressure to make a more mainstream record. But, instead of touring to support PAW and developing a concert audience for the future, then going in and making another record, I opted to take a bunch of preadolescent kids and spend 18 solid months of 15-hour days on making a record. The band broke up shortly after the record was released.

    So now the next one was supposed to be so important. It turned out to be a hard record to make. There was the concept of putting this band together with all monster musicians. It worked in theory but not in practice. I was hoping everybody could contribute their performance expertise while I sort of guided the band in the direction that I thought the music should go. They were very talented people that had definite ideas of the music they liked to play, and it all clashed dramatically.

    I was not ready for a band. You see, usually the idea of a band is to get together with people who could contribute their ideas and talents in a healthy exchange. With players like Terry Bozzio, T.M. Stevens and Devin Townsend, in order to have a band there needs to be an unconditional acceptance of everybody else's contribution. I was not ready for that kind of commitment on my part. Although it may have seemed unfair to the others, there were definite ideas on which way I wanted to go with the music.

    It was a conscious decision to make such a radical departure from Passion and Warfare with Sex & Religion. Most fans were expecting another CD similar to PAW but...surprise! I'm still stunned from the whiplash and beating I received from the press.

    It's funny though because there are actually people who feel Sex & Religion is the most important record in their life and that it changed their world. From the letters we receive, it appears that more people each day are discovering it's mesmerizing peculiarity.

    It was a real physiological metamorphosing period. There were outside influences that I let get too close to my secret garden. It seemed that right after the success of Passion And Warfare, I found myself in an alien frame of mind as the wheels of karma were weaving their indefatigable voodoo.

    From the time I started the Bad 4 Good project, a sort of downward spiral started to transpire. Bogus and pathetic lawsuits, bad real estate investments with people who I could at best consider criminals, the disillusionment of the creation of a band, listening to negative type music and letting too many people get involved with my creative decision making, touring with people that were bored and miserable with the situation, the falling out of dear friends and the loss of Frank Zappa, were some of the situations that passed during this period. There are scars from those growing pains.

    Then there was that fateful day we played The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Nothing felt right and I went against my feeling on almost every issue. Right before we took to the stage I was on the phone settling a painful and costly litigation. That night I sat in my living room and watched the show. After our performance it all came to me. I saw every blunder I made and it all stemmed from me letting my ego go against my better judgment. I fell to the floor, curled into a ball and thought, "What have I done?" It was a low point.

    After that tour, I arrived home from the airport, sat in a chair and in some kind of symbolic ritual, cut off all those knotty and putrid dreadlocks that were pulling at my skull. Then got directly back on a plane and flew to Tahiti for 10 days, ahhhh!

    All was not catastrophic though. There are many elements of that whole period that hold merit. Sex & Religion contains intense emotionally manipulated sonic experiences that needed to be released. I always felt strongly about the music and I loved touring on it.

    There was the opportunity to work with some brilliant people too. Devin Townsend (singer on S&R) is one of the most amazing and uniquely talented tormented souls making music today. Very little of his true brilliance comes through on S&R. His solo music holds brutal treasures. Check out Strapping Young Lad or the ominous Ocean Machines. He is intense in the total meaning of the word. I believe he's a genius in areas that have not been discovered yet. He's quite grotesquely entertaining too (if your an instigator like me)....

    That period also saw the birth of my second son, Fire Vai. Like our first son Julian and my wife Pia, there are no words to describe their preciousness. A family's health and happiness is the most excellent blessing that the lords of karma can bestow."

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  19. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    Sex & Religion

    Studio album by
    July 27, 1993[1]
    Recorded The Mothership Studio in Hollywood Hills
    Genre Heavy metal, hard rock, instrumental rock
    Length 59:18
    Label Relativity
    Producer Steve Vai

    Sex & Religion is a studio album by guitarist Steve Vai, released under the band name "Vai" on July 23, 1993 through Relativity Records. The album features future Devin Townsend Project and Strapping Young Lad singer and guitarist Devin Townsend on vocals. Townsend also co-wrote the tracks "Pig" and "Just Cartilage", the latter of which was only released as a bonus track in Japan. Vai also co-wrote "In My Dreams with You" with Desmond Child and Roger Greenawalt.

    Sex & Religion reached No. 48 on the U.S. Billboard 200,[2] No. 17 in the UK albums chart and also charted within the top 60 in four other countries.[4] "In My Dreams with You" was released as a single, reaching No. 36 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.[2]

    The album's cover art appears to be a reference to the famous artistic depictions of Saint Sebastian.

    All tracks are written by Steve Vai, except where noted.

    1. "An Earth Dweller's Return" 1:04
    2. "Here & Now" 4:47
    3. "In My Dreams With You" (Vai, Desmond Child, Roger Greenawalt) 5:01
    4. "Still My Bleeding Heart" 6:00
    5. "Sex & Religion" 4:24
    6. "Dirty Black Hole" 4:27
    7. "Touching Tongues" 5:33
    8. "State of Grace" 1:41
    9. "Survive" 4:46
    10. "Pig" (Vai, Devin Townsend) 3:36
    11. "The Road to Mt. Calvary" 2:35
    12. "Down Deep into the Pain" 8:01
    13. "Rescue Me or Bury Me" 8:25
    Total length: 60:25
    Look I absolutely loved this album. This is a completely different animal to Passion and Warfare, in fact the only thing similar here is the relationship between the words in the titles.
    When I got this album I had no idea what to expect. When I played it it sat me back on my haunches for a minute. I played it a lot.
    I loved the songs, they, for the most part, were so different. Sure there were a couple of somewhat radio friendly tracks, but for the most part this album was reaching and stretching and changing the face of what Steve Vai could present.
    Then we had this amazing vocalist Devin Townsend ... I am not a fan of screamo, or anything like that, but the way Townsend uses his voice, still amazes me.

    On a side note ... Somewhere around 2012? I suddenly realised that I was completely out of touch with the music scene. Sure I had heard some stuff but essentially I had spent the period from about 2004-2012 going through a stack of personal situations that adjusted me personally from who I was into whatever I am now ... but anyhow. I had no idea of who was doing what, and aside from snippets of things played around the place, I had no idea if there was anything around that I liked anymore.
    I ended up discovering a few bands and artists that I liked, but I played this album, and pondered what had happened to this crazy vocalist. To be honest the Strapping Young Lad stuff certainly has its merits, but it is too focused in screamo to be of too much interest to me, but I noticed that Devin had also been releasing solo albums, The Devin Townsend Band and also the Devin Townsend Project albums .... I bought it all, and I absolutely love this guys work. Last years Empath album is absolutely wonderful, and the 5.1 is coming out in a month or two, and I am very much looking forward to it.... The album thread linked above is very short, 25 pages for a stack of albums, and he is worth checking out. Apparently not many folks know much about him, and have little interest, but there are a lot of us who think he is excellent on a whole other level.

    Personally I still think this is a great album, and I am hoping I am not alone. I guess there are some elements of commerciality, but most of this album really isn't, or at least at the time, wasn't particularly commercial to my ears.
    We get some great songs. We get a sort of prog-metal styling in some areas. We get unique and often amazing vocals, and In many places we get some stunning Vai guitar work.

    I love it, and am looking forward to a revisit, because it has been quite a while since it has received a spin.

    So please give us the low down on what you thought of this album.

    Miles1968 likes this.
  20. Anthrax

    Anthrax Forum Resident

    Sex & Religion is a difficult album for me, and Townsend is my main problem with it. I totally recognise he's an incredible talent, I heard that from day one, but what he does with that talent hardly ever connects with me. And it bugs me, because I appreciate powerful singers as a general rule, but for some reason his singing is something I can't take for long stretches. I admire his technique and incredible power (hell, I'd pay to be able to sing like that), but I don't quite enjoy the result.

    As it is, the vocals on this Vai album are just too much for me, and that makes Sex & Religion an album I hardly ever reach for. There are a few songs I do love, but outside of them I basically ignore the album. I don't even remember when was the last time I played the whole thing through, it must've been many years. I will revisit it later today or tomorrow, but I don't expect I'll ever fall in love with it.
  21. Miles1968

    Miles1968 Well-Known Member

    I like this album a lot, and saw the band on the supporting tour. I was excited because it was the first time I saw Vai live, but was also disappointed that Bozzio wasn't drumming (wanted to see him partly because of his work with Jeff Beck) and to be wholly honest I found Devin a bit overpowering in a live setting at the time. Overall, I enjoyed the show but enjoyed the next time I saw Vai 'solo' a lot more.

    Ironically, I'm now a big fan of Devin's thanks to Vai - I bought 'Synchestra' as Vai plays on one song, and have gone back and bought most of Devin's albums.
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  22. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    I get the impression that Steve and Devin are pretty good friends, they seem to pop up occasionally on different things together.
    I kind of also get the impression that working together for them is almost like too much spice in the Chilli or something along those lines
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  23. Miles1968

    Miles1968 Well-Known Member

    Ha, that might be true.
    Don't know if you've had a chance to listen to any of the album by album podcasts Devin is doing ? He's mentioned Steve a couple if times.
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  24. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Pick up a fast car, burn my name in the road Thread Starter

    I actually haven't seen many of the things folks have been doing with the Covid lock down. I have still been at work pretty much consistently
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  25. Miles1968

    Miles1968 Well-Known Member

    Hope work calms down a bit for you before too long !
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