Today, as the snow falls here in Nebraska, (they are forecasting 5 to 8 inches) I have become acutely aware that I have been lax in my blog postings lately. I have also fallen behind in my music reviews, so today I will review an album that was given to me by a good friend who also plays guitar. The artist is a common favorite of ours and a popular guitarist in the minds of many who appreciate killer guitar compositions. The artist is Joe Satriani. If you have never heard of him and you like great guitar then you have been living under a hard rock all your life. I first heard the riffs and screaming guitar sounds of Joe Satriani, or “Satch” as he is known in more appreciative circles, from a guitarist who was teaching me lead guitar many years ago. When this teacher found out that I was a Randy Rhoads (original Ozzy guitarist) fan he turned me on to “Surfing With the Alien” by Joe Satriani. The jaw dropping reaction I experienced after hearing this incredible guitarist was much like my reaction in 1978 after seeing and hearing the hammer-on and pull-off storm known as “Eruption” performed by Eddie Van Halen at St. Johns Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Who is this guy?
Since that blessed day I have been listening to the music of “Satch”. Among his guitar playing he has also found the time to help instruct others in the art of axe wielding. He helped create the talents of axemen such as Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Larry LaLonde of Primus, Marty Friedman of Megadeth, and David Bryson of Counting Crows who are now great guitarists in their own right. But they can’t compare to the master Satch. In 1995 Satch came up with an awesome idea to put together something of a guitar festival which became known as the G3 tour. Along with Satch, the tour has included many guitar greats like Steve Vai, Yngwie Malsteen, Eric Johnson, John Petrucci (Dream Theater) and Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big). Satch has become notorious for odd song titles like “Surfing With the Alien”, “The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing”, “Flying in a Blue Dream”, and “Is There Love in Space”. Along these lines comes the new album released by Satch.
The new album by Joe “Satch” Satriani is called “Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock” and is his 12th studio album. It was released April 1st, 2008. The title has Greco-Biblical connotations. The first part is merely and extension of his nickname Satch, and the second, namely the word Musterion, is a Greek word meaning “Something which cannot be known until it is revealed.” I must admit that I had not given the album a serious listen until my friend Chris handed it to me at church. But when I plugged it into my car CD player on the way home the familiar guitar sounds and riffs came pouring out of my speakers. I now have the music on my mp3 player and listen to it regularly. The first track is “Musterion”. It begins with a moody and mysterious series of clean guitar chords and progresses to a melody similar to tracks found on his first album “Not of This Earth“. The next track is called “Overdriver” and begins with just that, a riff with an overdriven effect. The song vacillates between instrumental melody and hard driven rock solo. It features much of his speed and prowess. The next track called “I Just Wanna Rock” is probably the lamest track I’ve heard from the Satchman in a very long. The song actually has lyrics which are unintelligible at first. The song title is recognizable alright, but the repetitive garbled effect leading up to it is not. I had to Google it and found out he is saying “What is your purpose?” “I just wanna rock.” The fourth track is called “Professor Satchafunkilus”. It begins with some eerie saxaphone which is played by Satch’s son ZZ. The tune is a funky composition with some very cool guitar effects.
Highlights on this album include the first set minus the lame IJWR along with “Revelation” which was a song Satch originally wrote for his friend and fellow guitarist Steve Morse in memoriam of his father’s death. It has been said that while Joe was writing this song he realized he was once again writing about the loss of his own father. “Revelation” is definitely a thoughtful composition of guitar melodies as only Satch can create. “Out of the Sunrise” is a jazz flavored piece that reminds me something off of his album “Engines of Creation”. The song bridge mixes in some Latin flavoring as well. It is a well done piece. “Diddle-Y-A-Doo-Dat” is the eighth track and probably my favorite on the album. The keyboards remind me of classic Deep Purple or as my wife thought, Grand Funk Railroad. Of course the guitar riffs and solo melody are much more contemporary effects-wise then to be from that era. I just like the sound of the organ and guitar playing in harmony. “Andalusia” begins with traditional quiet Latin looped hand clapping with Satch playing Spanish stylings on nylon strings before he launches into a full bore soaring melodic solo that is the epitome of his talent. This is definitely another fave on the album.
As a musician who appreciates the talent of Joe Satriani, I would have to say that this album is very good. Not some of his greatest, for he has some great stuff. But it kicks the butt of most instrumental albums out there now. Joe is always experimenting which makes for some interesting, and never boring pieces. Satch has redefined instrumental rock in my lifetime that is for sure. It is quite the task to come up with inventive music all the time but Joe Satriani does it each and every time he picks up his signature Ibanez JS series and pushes record. I give this album four out of five Ibanez JS Series guitars.
Please check out the video shot in Paris of the song “Revelation”.