STEVE VAI

Hard Rock / Non-Metal • United States
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Steven Siro Vai (born June 6, 1960) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and producer who has sold over 15 million albums. After starting his career as a music transcriptionist for Frank Zappa, he recorded and toured in Zappa's band from 1980 to 1982. He began a solo career in 1983, and has released eight solo albums and won three Grammy Awards.

Vai has recorded and toured with Public Image Ltd., Alcatrazz, David Lee Roth, and Whitesnake. He has been a regular touring member of the G3 Concert Tour, which began in 1995. In 1999, he started his own record label, Favored Nations, intending to showcase "artists that have attained the highest performance level on their chosen instruments".

Biography

Born in Carle Place, New York as a descendant of Italian immigrants, Vai began playing guitar in 1973 at the age of 13. In 1974, he took guitar lessons from guitarist Joe Satriani and played
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Passion And WarfarePassion And Warfare
Legacy 2010
$6.62
$4.89 (used)
Steve Vai: Where the Wild Things Are [Blu-ray]Steve Vai: Where the Wild Things Are [Blu-ray]
Multiple Formats · Blu-ray
Favored Nations 2009
$22.36
$17.86 (used)
Modern Primitive / Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)Modern Primitive / Passion & Warfare (25th Anniversary Edition)
Sony Legacy 2016
$12.85
$9.99 (used)
Flex-AbleFlex-Able
Extra tracks
Epic / Akashic / Sony 2011
$15.55
$4.48 (used)
The Elusive Light and Sound Vol.1The Elusive Light and Sound Vol.1
Favored Nations 2002
$7.24
$1.57 (used)
The Story of LightThe Story of Light
Favored Nations 2012
$8.99
$2.94 (used)
Alive In An Ultra WorldAlive In An Ultra World
Sony Legacy 2001
$25.84
$3.95 (used)
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STEVE VAI Discography

STEVE VAI albums / top albums

STEVE VAI Flex-Able album cover 3.50 | 10 ratings
Flex-Able
Hard Rock 1984
STEVE VAI Passion And Warfare album cover 4.13 | 22 ratings
Passion And Warfare
Hard Rock 1990
STEVE VAI Sex & Religion album cover 3.36 | 13 ratings
Sex & Religion
Hard Rock 1993
STEVE VAI Fire Garden album cover 3.84 | 12 ratings
Fire Garden
Hard Rock 1996
STEVE VAI The Ultra Zone album cover 3.55 | 11 ratings
The Ultra Zone
Hard Rock 1999
STEVE VAI Real Illusions: Reflections album cover 3.79 | 8 ratings
Real Illusions: Reflections
Hard Rock 2005
STEVE VAI The Story Of Light album cover 4.00 | 5 ratings
The Story Of Light
Hard Rock 2012
STEVE VAI Modern Primitive album cover 3.17 | 2 ratings
Modern Primitive
Non-Metal 2016

STEVE VAI EPs & splits

STEVE VAI Flex-Able Leftovers album cover 2.58 | 4 ratings
Flex-Able Leftovers
Hard Rock 1984
STEVE VAI Alien Love Secrets album cover 4.04 | 10 ratings
Alien Love Secrets
Hard Rock 1995

STEVE VAI live albums

STEVE VAI Alive In An Ultra World album cover 2.75 | 2 ratings
Alive In An Ultra World
Hard Rock 2001
STEVE VAI Live In London album cover 4.00 | 3 ratings
Live In London
Hard Rock 2004
STEVE VAI Sound Theories album cover 2.83 | 3 ratings
Sound Theories
Hard Rock 2007
STEVE VAI Where The Wild Things Are album cover 3.88 | 4 ratings
Where The Wild Things Are
Hard Rock 2009
STEVE VAI Stillness In Motion: Vai Live In L.A. album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Stillness In Motion: Vai Live In L.A.
Hard Rock 2015

STEVE VAI demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

STEVE VAI re-issues & compilations

STEVE VAI The 7th Song (Archives Vol. 1) album cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
The 7th Song (Archives Vol. 1)
Hard Rock 2000
STEVE VAI The Secret Jewel Box album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
The Secret Jewel Box
Hard Rock 2001
STEVE VAI Mystery Tracks (Archives Vol. 3) album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Mystery Tracks (Archives Vol. 3)
Hard Rock 2003
STEVE VAI Various Artists (Archives Vol. 4) album cover 2.50 | 1 ratings
Various Artists (Archives Vol. 4)
Hard Rock 2003
STEVE VAI The Infinite Steve Vai: An Anthology album cover 4.00 | 2 ratings
The Infinite Steve Vai: An Anthology
Hard Rock 2003
STEVE VAI Original Album Classics album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Original Album Classics
Hard Rock 2008
STEVE VAI Playlist: The Very Best Of Steve Vai album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
Playlist: The Very Best Of Steve Vai
Hard Rock 2010
STEVE VAI The Essential Steve Vai album cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
The Essential Steve Vai
Hard Rock 2011

STEVE VAI singles (2)

.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
I Would Love To
Hard Rock 1990
.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
John The Revelator
Hard Rock 2012

STEVE VAI movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
3.62 | 3 ratings
LIVE AT THE ASTORIA
Hard Rock 2003
.. Album Cover
3.67 | 3 ratings
VISUAL SOUND THEORIES
Hard Rock 2007
.. Album Cover
4.25 | 2 ratings
Where The Wild Things Are
Hard Rock 2009
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Stillness In Motion: Vai Live In L.A.
Hard Rock 2015

STEVE VAI Reviews

STEVE VAI Modern Primitive

Album · 2016 · Non-Metal
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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.

STEVE VAI Flex-Able Leftovers

EP · 1984 · Hard Rock
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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 #[email protected]! 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.

STEVE VAI Flex-Able

Album · 1984 · Hard Rock
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STEVE VAI hardly needs an introduction after having played with Frank Zappa, Alcatraz, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake not to mention achieving a stellar success in his own right but while he would become the rock world’s undeniably most unique and proficient guitar shredder, his early years displayed a much deeper and experimental young VAI whose ties to progressive rock were at the forefront more than any pretensions of rock god status that would take place in a few short years as he would become one of the most technically adept shredders of the 80s.

Fresh out of several years as Zappa’s premiere “stunt guitarist” having played on albums like “You Are What You Is,” “The Man From Utopia” and “Jazz From Hell” as well as a string of successful live recordings from the “You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore” series, VAI managed to scrape enough money together to buy a small house in the LA suburb of Sylmar and with a mere 5000$ put together his first home studio where he would record a slew of goofy and off the wall music that initially was made for friends but was destined to become STEVE’s first album FLEX-ABLE along with the supplemental companion EP titled “Flex-Able Leftovers.”

Much of this was due to the fact of his fear of becoming famous and opted to simply make music that he wanted to instead of pursuing any commercial endeavors. Having stated he was simply living in the moment, he created new music to distribute amongst close friends with no preconceived notions of any sort. Released in 1984, FLEX-ABLE may come as a shock to anyone who encountered this zany album after growing to love STEVE’s more technical instrumental albums such as “Passion And Warfare.” This album in many ways sounds like a completely different artist with few clues as to the direction Mr. VAI would detour but it was this first album that made STEVE VAI a star in the rock and metal world for its unorthodox and hyper creative guitar playing.

VAI was inventive from the very start and FLEX-ABLE displayed a plethora of disparate ideas ranging from creative uses of the whammy bar, advanced hammer on abuse, alien sounding musical scales, compositional mastery as well as a healthy love of extraterrestrial life and all things spiritual, esoteric and eclectic. Add to that, VAI showed a mastery of the business aspects of music as well. FLEX-ABLE was innovative in becoming one of the first truly independent albums (another Zappa trait). While the album was deemed too personal for public consumption, VAI was convinced to release it but found that record companies not only wanted to usurp his publishing rights but would only pay mere pennies on the dollar in royalties. VAI opted to self-release and off this one album alone that has sold around 300,000 copies to date, STEVE has made millions.

As is commonly known, STEVE VAI was the ultimate nerd guitarist having studied at the Berklee School of Music and played with the late great Frank Zappa. FLEX-ABLE displays even more Zappa connections with fellow band members drummer Chad Wackerman, trumpeter Bob Harris and bassist Stu Hamm as well as a large extended guest list that make FLEX-ABLE the ultimate musician’s party album. Like any given Zappa album, the instrumentation was wide and varied and included not only guitar, bass, drums and keyboards but also more exotic instruments such as bell lyre, vibraphone, piccolo xylophone, clarinet, flute, sax and violin amongst other various chimes and bell-like percussion.

While originally conceived as gag gifts for friends, the idea was to press up a limited run of flexi discs (also known as phono sheets, Sonosheets or Soundsheets, a flexible vinyl sheet with a molded-in spiral stylus groove that played like a normal record). You know those think little bendies that are often attached in the middle of magazines and the like, thus the origin of how FLEX-ABLE got its title. A combo of a changed plan with the spirit of a can-do attitude and thus the ultimate description of one of rock’s most innovative guitarists indeed. After turning down the exploitative record labels, VAI created his own Akashic Records, found a distributor in the form of Important Records and received an unheard of amount of 4$10cents for each album sold.

And the album become a hit in the underground guitar world not only for VAI’s guitar playing technical prowess but for its sheer audacity to take the listener into VAI’s own universe designed by his own warped sense of humor. The album has since become a cult classic. It has been released with two album covers. Firstly with a cover donning a jet black background and a pink/purple hand tugging on an elastic pink/purple heart and then again with a cartoonish caricature of STEVE on an orange stage alongside an alien and rubbery guitar. The latter contained bonus tracks that would find their way onto the “Flex-Able Leftovers.” (these tracks include: “So Happy,” “Bledsoe Blvd,” “Burnin’ Down The Mountain,” “Chronic Insomnia” and was my intro to the album.

And the music! This album contains some of the wildest tracks ever! While STEVE’s virtuosic guitar shredding does debut here, it is limited in small doses with the highlight on the metal rocker “The Attitude Song,” which would eventually be included on the Guitar Hero video game series. However the rest of the album is completely different. One of my favorite VAI tracks of all time opens in the form of “Little Green Men,” the ultimate Zappa tribute complete with a frenetic off-kilter jazzified parade of whimsical satire and adroit virtuosity runs of vibraphones and time signatures run amok but also conveys a sophisticated yet playful story about how aliens are amongst us and kept from our knowledge through careful control of perception. Perhaps one of the most hilarious tracks of all time :P

“Viv Woman” displays hard rock attitude but also a healthy horn section whereas “Salamanders In The Sun” is another Zappa inspired flirtatious flute driven melodic track that is light and fluffy but also incorporates some stellar guitar playing. “Call It Sleep,” one of the most experimental tracks sounds like a sleepy guitarist waking up and having a hard time getting it together but ultimately prevails in a stunning guitar workout. This one has cool guitar slides and what sounds like tuning manipulations. “Junkie” begins like a music box, a vocal driven sorta jazzy track about a drug addict and includes some extraordinary unorthodox guitar weirdness. “Bill’s Private Parts” is a tiny snippet of percussive bombast whereas “Next Stop Earth” debuts VAI’s unique ability to make the guitar “talk.” It is 34 seconds of two guitars having a conversation, a technique fully utilized on future releases.

“There’s Something Dead In Here” is an atonal, non-melodic horrific sounding progressive rock on acid type of recording. This is probably the most “out there” track which is only for the most hardcore. The only two tracks that i’m not really found of are the corny combo of “Lover’s Are Crazy” and “The Boy/Girl Song.” These two tracks are prominent because they appear near the beginning of the album and are the most commercial sounding which for better or for worse debut another aspect of VAI’s music, my least favorite, the schmaltzy ballads with stupid lyrics. While i can understand the desire to keep the album from getting too wild, these two tracks just seem out of place.

While my first experience of the album was with the four bonus tracks which are some of my favorites on the whole album and some of the most creative, i’ll have to save criticism for them on the “Flex-Able Leftovers” album which is where they made their first appearance. FLEX-ABLE is a nerdy album through and through and will probably fly over the heads of non-musicians. There is nothing “normal” about this album. This was the creation of a highly developed musician making music on his own terms with little regard for public consumption. Luckily, this sort of music had a cult following with yours truly being a part of.

This was definitely a grower but perhaps the most consistent of VAI’s many lopsided albums save a couple tracks. While often cited as his low point, if you can get past the fact that this is not shredder’s paradise (and i’m a shredding fan for sure), you can experience a fantastically creative album unlike anything else ever made even by VAI himself. Historically speaking, FLEX-ABLE is a brief moment in time between the adventurous Zappa years and VAI’s metal god status with David Lee Roth and Whitesnake. It displayed ALL of VAI’s musical talents far beyond the lightning speed fret abuse he has become more known for. This is the dawn of not only a talented guitarist, but also a producer and business entrepreneur as well as composer and arranger of talents. A one of a kind album that deserves its cult status.

STEVE VAI The Story Of Light

Album · 2012 · Hard Rock
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Earendil
I have mixed feelings about Steve Vai. Some of his material is the most technically amazing stuff I've ever heard; I consider him to be the greatest guitarist on the electric guitar of all time. That being said, much of his material (like his critically acclaimed Passion and Warfare) left me unsatisfied. Despite the high level of technical proficiency, in the past he has had a tendency to compose some straight-forward and (in my opinion) boring music. That's not to say all of his material before this album falls into this category; each album I've listened to by him has some great and some incredible tracks, but he has not been consistent. Anyways, I put on The Story of Light and it blew me away. It's a continuation of Vai's previous album Real Illusions: Reflections (and it's the sequel to it as part of a planned trilogy) but musically it perfects what was only sometimes reached on that album. The focus is not on shredding guitars but on moving music. The Story of Light is a beautiful, layered, textural, and eclectic collection of tracks that show Steve at his best compositionally. It's also (perhaps not coincidentally) his most progressive album that I've heard. I highly recommend The Story of Light, and it may just be the most skilled guitarist of all time's best album to date.

Rating: 9/10

STEVE VAI Sex & Religion

Album · 1993 · Hard Rock
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Earendil
Sex & Religion is technically an album by a band called Vai, distinct from Steve's solo work. The album features Devin Townsend on vocals, which is what initially made me excited to listen to this album. However, the actual music, while played by talented musicians and a talented vocalist, remains at the lower end of Steve Vai's output. I think the main problem that prevents this album from moving beyond "passable" is how over-indulgent it is. In many songs, Townsend nails a vocal section and then goes all over the place, mindlessly doing vocal runs, screaming too much, or simply over-selling it. The song-writing is average, with no real inspiration but an abundance of screeching solos that are often musically unrelated to the rest of the song.

Sex & Religion is an overly ambitious album by talented musicians with one foot in the 80's and the other sliding all over the place. If my review sounds more like a 2 star than a 3 star review, it's because despite these flaws that I mentioned, the album still intrigues me. The fact that two now legendary musicians like Vai and Townsend played together makes this worth checking out. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that for someone who is more than a casual fan of both of them, this album is essential. In any case, it's interesting to see the immature but undeniable attempt at greatness on the album, and at some points, the band Vai pulls it off.

Rating: 6/10

STEVE VAI Movies Reviews

STEVE VAI LIVE AT THE ASTORIA

Movie · 2003 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
AtomicCrimsonRush
Shhhh... Genius at Work!

I caught this live DVD on a mate’s shelf when I visited him. He is a guitarist and happens to love Vai and I had to see for myself what the fuss is all about. I was gobsmacked by Vai’s dexterity as a guitarist and he loves his axe’s, even licks them and Hendrix style plays them behind his back or with his butt and of course the teeth.

He swings the guitar around his waist, rapes it, slaughters it and then exhumes it only to kill it again. The thing screams in pain and there is no mercy from Vai’s attack. He does double handed sweeps, massive riffing with speed picks, classical arpeggios and monstrous squeals.

The man is a guitar genius and is perhaps the best I have seen. The live DVD captures all that is great about the virtuoso guitarist. His lead breaks are killer and will force your mouth open in awe at times.

The crunching scratchy riff on Bad Horsie is perhaps the most unforgettable part of this DVD for me. He literally makes his axe sound like a whinnying horsie, and even at times gallops like hooves. The wah wah pedal is overkill but you gotta love that grinding riff.

Little Wing is one of the best Hendrix covers I have heard, almost as good as the original. The passionate performance Vai exudes is inspirational.

Whispering A Prayer has one of the most impressive examples of how to make a guitar cry in ecstasy or is it agony.

For The Love of God is beautifully played and has a memorable melody. There are other members of the band but they disappear when Vai hits the stage. He is indeed a virtuoso and one of the greatest guitarist on the planet.

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