I Am a Victim
Sunday Night Journal — May 27, 2007

Music of the Week — May 27, 2006

Joe Satriani: Flying in a Blue Dream

This one is probably of interest mainly to lovers of flash guitar, but to these it offers a lot. Satriani is by reputation one of the wizards, and there’s plenty here to justify the reputation. I didn’t find it particularly appealing at first listen, and if not for a recent reversal of audio fortunes that has me listening to cassettes that I was on the verge of discarding a few months ago I might have missed it. I had picked it up for a few dollars several years ago when cassettes were disappearing from the stores, half-listened to it once, didn’t particularly care for its general sound, which I would loosely describe as ‘80s hard rock, and had never gone back to it.

I’m glad I did; I would have missed some truly wild and spectacular guitar. Knowing only a little about rock guitar, I can’t imagine how he gets some of those sounds, especially as he seems in this video to get them without using a lot of effects (at any rate he isn’t using a bunch of pedals).

Roughly half the album is instrumental, and these are my favorite tracks. The more conventional songs tend to be, well, more conventional: musically more complicated than most, perhaps, but to my taste not all that engaging, and lyrically so-so. My favorite of these is “Big Bad Moon,” not so much for the song itself as for the fact that, unlike most of the rest of the album, it’s very bluesy and the combination of the blues vocabulary and Satriani’s wild technique and imagination is compelling.

You could buy the first track and the last five from iTunes and have a great instrumental EP. But you really ought to throw in “One Big Rush,” too, at least. By then you’re halfway toward the cost of the whole album, and if, as noted, you’re a guitar freak, you’ll find something worth hearing on every track, so go ahead and buy it.

I kind of think he looked better with hair, though, as dated as the 1989 rock star look may seem now.



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