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Joe Satriani - Surfing With The Aliens (1999) Retail CD
Joe Satriani is unquestionably one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. He influenced as many guitarists as he was influenced by, and manages to set the standard for creativity and technical prowess in the world of instrumental guitar rock. When this album was released back in '87, it was unique and unlike anything else being played at the time. Sure, guitar-shredding was fairly popular, with technicians like Yngwie Malmsteen, Tony MacAlpine, and Vinnie Moore receiving due credit in the world of neoclassical rock, but there was little variation between these artists and their lightningmore…-speed scales, arpeggios and clasically inspired licks.
Joe Satriani managed to release an album which was fresh, powerful and varied. Instead of sticking to one approach for every song the way Yngwie or MacAlpine did, Joe wrote each song as an individual piece of music with its own vibe, message and unique quality. He shows a great deal of restraint, tying his songs together with strong, well-constructed melodies and riffs that can be soloed over or improvised on to create a fluid, progressive piece of music. Every song on this album is a winner, and what makes them work so well together is their differences of style but consistency of quality. No track is alike or could be mistaken for another, but they are all incredible in their own way.
1) Surfing With the Alien - Awesome track that's all over the place. It features some of the album's flashiest playing, with especially exciting tapping and bluesy riffs. It isn't the absolute greatest song on here, but it makes for a fine introductory piece of what's to come. (8/10)
2) Ice 9 - A funky, infectious song with lead guitar playing somewhat reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, only more futuristic-sounding. As with much of his material, Satch starts out slow and builds up to balls-out shredding. Satch loves to experiment with a variety of guitar tones and sounds, and this song is the perfect showcase for his creative abilities. (8.5/10)
3) Crushing Day - This could be my favorite song on the album, and is definitely one of my favorite Satriani songs of all time. The main melody/lead riff in this song is simply perfect. It's emotional yet driving, and filled with energy that only Satch could deliver. The song also features some awesome soloing and great rhythm guitar. Satriani's tone sounds simply amazing here. (9.5/10)
4) Always With Me, Always With You - Here is another excellent, trademark Satriani song which has become a favorite among listeners, including myself. It's more subdued than some of the faster songs on here, and features a "brown sound" lead guitar tone comparable to Van Halen, soloing with lush melodies over a clean rhythm section. The overall feel of it is warm, passionate and electrifying. (9.5/10)
5) Satch Boogie - This isn't my favorite song on the album, but it's still quite cool. It's very energetic and filled with rapid-fire blues bends and artificial harmonics. The rhythm section, as the title suggests, is pure boogie blues. The way Satch soloes over the rhythm section is what makes this song appealing--he uses finger-tapping, neoclasiscal sounding scales and phrasing, along with straight ahead blues-rock to give the song a sense of immediacy and impulsivity. It's a fast, ruthless song which fits in well with the collection. (8/10)
6) Hill of the Skull - Here is the album's first most unique song, and also one of its two shortest. Clocking in at under 2 minutes, the song is a brief foray into brooding, atmospheric territory. It actually would have been cool if the song were more progressive and lengthier, but it works well as a miniature experiment, all the same. It features some of the most heartfelt, classically influenced melodies on the album, but still manages to sound incredibly original. No shredding here, just slow, dirging guitar melody and a similarly grave rhythm section. (8.5/10)
7) Circles - A cool, laid back rhythm intro erupts into pounding, distorted riffs and frenzied lead guitar work. Joe Satriani's lead guitar tone sounds in fine form here. The song switches back to the mellow vibe that it started out with. (8.5/10)
8) Lords of Karma - Kind of a strange, mysterious song which sounds deliciously 80's, but has that trademark space-age Satriani sound to it which is present through this album. Here is a great example of why Satriani was so ahead of his time with this album--there is no other song or artist that I can think of to compare this particular song to. Even the name is original. The soloing is, of course, pretty similar to other shred-fare seen during the 80's, only slightly more fluid and progressive. Satriani knows what he's doing. (9/10)
9) Midnight - The shortest track on the album, this song starts out a bit like Eddie Van Halen's Spanish Fly. The clean tapping sounds amazingly smooth and bell-like. After the Spanish Fly reminiscent intro, the song gets slightly more brooding with the addition of keyboard and rhythm section. It returns to the classical-sounding guitar tapping. Awesome little track. (8.5/10)
10) Echo - As the album's closer, this one is expected to be great, which it is. It's one of the album's highlights, and manages to incorporate just about every element which makes Satriani's playing excellent. It's more serious and contemplative than something like the title track of Satch Boogie, but is still a showcase for Joe's technical abilities. It's the album's longest song, and the most progressive, giving a real sense of journey and evolution over the course of 5 and a half minutes. As expected, it sounds fresh and futuristic, combining simple elements in an unusual and amazingly skilled manner to produce a completely original work. (9.5/10)
This is a must-have album, and despite its short length, is still one of the best values for anyone willing to spend money on a cd these days. In 37 minutes, Joe covers more ground than most guitarists cover in their entire careers. The album has been around for 20 years and it doesn't sound a bit dated.
1. Surfing With The Alien
2. Ice 9
3. Crushing Day
4. Always With Me Always With You
5. Satch Boogie
6. Hill Of The Skull
8. Lords Of Karma
- Joe Satriani - Surfing With The Aliens (1999) Retail CD
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- 24/09/16 by coverheat
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