I never was a huge Joe Satriani fan until I saw him in concert, sandwiched between King's X and Dream Theater back in 2002. That night, I became enthralled with the guy — even though the last thing I felt like doing before his set entered the stratsophere was watching a guy shred for 90 minutes. Sure, he's showoff. But what guitarist worth his record sales in the Eighties isn't?
The Electric Joe Satriani proves why Satch belongs in a short list of great instrumental-rock guitarists. His schizophrenic sense of groove and melody ring through loud and clear on these 30 tracks, chosen by Internet fans from more than 140 songs. They run in roughly chronological order beginning with 1986's Not of This Earth and wrapping up with 2002's Strange Beautiful Music. This two-disc collection may not improve upon 1993's double-disc compilation Time Machine, simply because that one contains live tracks and recognizes Satriani's self-titled 1984 EP. On this collection, though, listeners gain a broader spectrum of the man's music, as he has stretched into more atmospheric and techno playing in recent years. Plus, there's a previously unreleased track circa 2002 and a pair of Satch-sung songs back to back ("I Believe" and "Big Bad Moon").
Well-written and informative liner notes — especially for gearheads — round out this appealing package. But it's still not the same as seeing Satriani live.