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Steve Vai - Various Artists - Vol. 4 Review
by Morley Seaver

This is the fourth volume in a collection of CDs that Mr. Vai has released. The series contains a variety of guest appearances Steve has made with other artists, or it could be from his vault of b-sides, bootlegs, revamped classics and more.

There is no denying that Vai is one of the world's most gifted guitarists as he proves on this widely varying set of songs. "Sweet Lady Luck" by Whitesnake is first up, throwing the banner high for '80s rock. You change gears violently with the second cut which is some jazz from "The Songs of West Side Story". Here Vai does some lead breaks (over Chick Corea's band) that are just amazing. He definitely has some other metronome in his head that is attuned to a rhythm that the rest of us do not subscribe to. His old mentor Frank Zappa would be proud with this one.

Johnny Rotten and Steve Vai. Right. "Ease" and "Home" come from a collaboration with John Lydon's post Pistols outfit Public Image Ltd. Bill Laswell plays bass on both cuts, which also feature Ginger Baker on drums. The weird "Western Vacation" is kind of strange with a campfire cowboy song off the top but it slides into an amazing solo that proves Vai is not real. Nobody can fingerboard like that. And then just to laugh in your face at that, he follows up with the next cut "Noah's Ark" that just blows off the previous cut. Think lightning x 50. Just jaw-droppingly amazing.

"Drifting" and "Bold As Love" are two Hendrix tunes that have great arrangements set against a backdrop by the London Metropolitan Orchestra. Two songs by Bob Harris feature some tasty Vai noodling along in the backdrop on one and on sitar in the other. "Feed My Frankenstein" has Steve playing with Joe Satriani and Nikki Sixx. How cool is that? Changing gears again has Steve playing in a project called Der Holle Rache (Queen of the Night) which had some symphonic rock bits and operatic vocals.

The record closer is "Gone" a song co-written and sung by someone called Lily. It's a nice piece and the vocals sound remotely like Tracy Chapman. It's amazing that for a fourth volume of assorted bits and pieces, Steve Vai's closet songs are better than a lot of artists' main records. Having said that, there are better places to start if you're a casual listener. For fanatics, however, who don't have some of these songs in other forms, you'll love this.

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Steve Vai - Various Artists - Vol. 4

Label:Favored Nations

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