Tuesday, 22 September 2015

CD Review - Joe Satriani Shockwave Supernova

I forgot to include this one in my recent round-up of latest CD purchases....

Whilst there are a plethora of hugely talented guitarists out there who produce great instrumental music there are few that break through from just a niche market dominated by other guitarists who are there to be dazzled by the skill rather than the tunes and fewer still who maintain a long term career from it.   Jeff Beck is one obvious example who has continued to forge a path where each release seems to get more plaudits than the last.  Steve Vai - maybe is in this illustrious group with Al Di Meola in there too maybe.   But without a doubt one for who there is no argument is Joe Satriani - since his sophomore release of Surfing with the Alien in the 80s Joe has continued to produce great albums.  I'll be honest for me he did lose his way - or at least not go in a direction I totally bought into for a while but his last 5 releases since 2006's Super Colossal have placed Joe firmly at the top of the tree.  Shockwave Supernova is a continuation from that maintaining the momentum in that this is clearly a Joe S album from the first riff in the opening title track.  There is new stunning playing throughout and a hint at times to the more stripped out relaxed Chickenfoot material he has produced with Mr Hagar et al in recent years like on Crazy Joey which then has one of the best "tapped" passages you'll hear anywhere.  Several great tracks but the stand out for me is Keep on Movin'.  From a great piano intro Joe plays a catchy riff via a cocked wah wah - indeed the break down and wah solo on this remind me of the aforementioned Jeff Beck greatly and I mean that in a hugely complimentary way not in an accusation of plagiarism since as the track develops over some great support playing from the band this is as near to jazz rock (or whatever cross over you want to name it) as Joe has ever got and it sounds flipping brilliant.  Other tracks worthy or note include the exquisite On Peregrine Wings pounded along after a crashing start by a stonking riff this is almost the defining track of his career to date for me with a searing and soaring lead part that nods back to the Extremist and Surfing albums.

Finally - I read an interview where Joe says the album is a concept about the "other persona" he adopts when he heads to the stage since being a "shy retiring" type he needs to play a part to be the rock God on stage people pay to see.  He tried through these tunes to take that persona the more showman side of him into the studio.  I can attest to that shining through on tracks like On Peregrine Wings.


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