“Surfing With The Alien” – Legacy Edition by Joe Satriani

Artist: Joe Satriani
Title: “Surfing With The Alien” – Legacy Edition
Label: Epic/Legacy
Release Date: 8/7/2007
Genre: Instrumental Progressive
Rating: 5/5

In 1987 Joe Satriani proved to the world that a guitar-oriented album could be a blockbuster that everyone could enjoy even if they were not axe slingers themselves. It was only his second album but it was loaded with technical displays that made aspiring guitarists drool and even upgrade their practice regimen in order to better comprehend exactly what the instrumentalist was doing on the songs. The album was adorned with a striking cover of Marvel Comics’ Silver Surfer soaring through space and hence comes the title of the album and its opening track. Now as the album reaches a milestone in history, Sony Legacy has issued a digitally remastered version and included a bonus DVD that is loaded with unreleased material. As expected the sound with today’s studio contributions make it sound even better but there was clearly something else about it that stood out and that was its overall consistency. The fascinating thing about this recording when one looks back on it some twenty years later was how solid it has remained and how relevant the material still is when compared to other records of its type that are released today. One of the key appeals for me as the listener was how the albums guitar work actually sung to you at times like during “Always With Me Always With You” and at other times it just blasted you with technical prowess and acumen like during its title track. Satriani was already a noted player and had taught students who became guitar heroes in their own right. Some of his most famous pupils consist of Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Testament’s Alex Skolnick and Steve Vai. The album was almost entirely done by Satriani himself as well since he handled the guitars, the bass, and the keyboards along with some of the drum programming. This was before the days where Pro-Tools made a musicians life easier folks so it just adds to the levels of respect that Joe deserves.

As a drummer I I found that the album never seemed to bore me and while there are those who would scoff at me for even thinking of such a scenario I am sure that many can also agree that too many instrumental albums are out and out snooze fests. Satriani however was able to convert anyone, who played any instrument with his appealing style and clever compositions. My favorites remain in the tune that even found some MTV airplay at the time (“Satch Boogie”) and I also leaned favorably on “Ice 9” for no particular reason at all. Yet when it comes down to it all there is hardly a dull moment on the entire album and this is why it became the standard by which all others after it are measured by. The Legacy Edition also comes in a sweet packaging that folds out to reveal a couple of other photos. There is also a booklet which was excellent as it featured a track by track explanation of what the creation process was for each song. Joe also gives a great level of insight into the included Montreux performance.

DVD: Montreux Jazz Festival (7/15/1988): Ice, Memories, Rubina, Circles, Lords Of Karma, Bass Solo, Echo, Hordes Of Locusts, Always With Me Always With You, Satch Boogie.
** This never before released concert from the Montreux Jazz Festival finds Satriani as a relative unknown in some sense as he delivers a cooking set of material with an equally combustible band. Talk about a power trio because this band had found the venerated Stu Hamm on bass and Jonathan Mover on drums. The DVD also includes two of Joe’s videos “Satch Boogie” and “Always With Me, Always With You” and an interview with Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel.

If you are someone who has long ago purchased the album in its initial version well I have to inform you that a re-purchase of it in this expanded form is in your future. This really is a must have for any Satriani fans both new and old and especially those who are fans of instrumental music that might have never had a copy of their own in the first place.

Track Listing:
1. Surfing With The Alien
2. Ice
3. Crushing Day
4. Always With Me, Always With You
5. Satch Boogie
6. Hill Of The Skull
7. Circles
8. Lords Of Karma
9. Midnight
10. Echo

Official Website: www.joesatriani.com

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