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Vai, Steve: Various Artists-Archives Vol. 4

Guitar maestro Steve Vai has a plentiful back catalog of solo releases, but he has also guested on many other artists records as well in all sorts of different genres. Volume 4 in his Archives series sees Mr. Vai running the gamut from hard rock, jazz fusion, blues, new wave, prog, and plain old rock n roll with a host of well-known groups and projects. While much of the material on this volume is not what you would normally expect from the guitarist, his unmistakable tone and technique is easily apparent on each of the thirteen cuts.

You get some real winners here, like "Sweet Lady Luck", a b-side left off the Slip of the Tongue album from Whitesnake. Vai's guitar licks played the perfect foil to David Coverdale's husky vocals, and it's a shame that this song never made that album. "The Rumble" is perhaps my favorite tune on the CD, a boiling fusion "rumble" between Vai's group and the Chick Corea Elektric Band. This track is from "The Songs of West Side Story" and sees the two line-ups doing battle in typical 70's fusion flair, with guitars, keyboards, basses, and drums ripping dueling solos against each other. Simply brilliant.

Other highlights include the two songs that Vai did with Public Image Limited, "Ease" and "Home", both oddball new wave/prog tracks featuring some stinging lead work and textured rhythm playing from the guitarist. The funky fusion of "Noah's Ark" could easily have come off one of his early solo albums, and this one is actually a collaboration with the Bissonnette brothers on bass and drums. Two songs from the Symphonic Hendrix collection are also here featuring Steve, those being "Drifting" and "Bold As Love", and each one gives a unique take on two lesser known Hendrix songs. And who can forget the rousing metal anthem from Alice Cooper "Feed My Frankenstein", a crunchy and dramatic vehicle with plenty of Vai fireworks and gutsy vocals from Cooper.

For the Vai collector, this is a must have compilation of various appearances that he has made on others recordings over the years. It shows how his talents have been applied to many types of music, not just hard rock & metal. My one gripe is the booklet that comes with the CD. The lettering is so small and the background color so dark it makes for near impossible reading, which is a shame as there is a wealth of information given for each track. Get out your magnifying glasses!

Track Listing
1. Sweet Lady Luck
2. The Rumble
3. Ease
4. Home
5. Western Vacation
6. Noah's Ark
7. Drifting
8. Bold as Love
9. There's Still Hope
10. Autumn in Nepal
11. Feed My Frankenstein
12. Queen of the Night
13. Gone

Added: October 19th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Steve Vai Website
Hits: 2426
Language: english

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