I came under Steve Vai’s spell when a lot of people did – when he was Zappa’s “Little Italian Virtuoso.” Frank. Zappa. Called. Him. A. Virtuoso. We’re done. Goodnight. folks!
There were legends – I mean like Greek myths – of how he came to work for Zappa – stuff that involved mysterious cassette tapes, phone numbers and double time guitar solos. Whatever.
Steve is the best guitarist in music. Sure, there’s Malmsteen, who is unreal, Steven Taranto (youtube him and hold on), Marty Friedman, Buckethead, John freakin Petrucci, Govan, Gilbert, Holdsworth, Beck, etc. But Steve Vai is the king of the heap, because I always his playing was more melodic than a lot of other super-shredders. His bends are amazing, better than EVH, his melodies aren’t limited to his ability to play them.
I remember watching him in one of my favorite movies, “Crossroads,” starring Ralph Macchio and Joe Seneca, for the music he supplied, the amazing virtuosity required by the movie to seem authentic. They had to use Steve Vai as Jack Butler. Imagine – eternal damnation or a stay of execution is at stake. It all depends on who wins a guitar duel. In steps STEVE VAI.
Me: “Let’s cut to the chase. Light your torches, let’s start this thing.”
My previous band considered covering “Firegarden Suite” but couldn’t obtain free sheet music (I think that was the reason) while we had the music to Dream Theater’s “Metropolis Part I.” So that’s what we did.
I always wanted to play the Vai – so here is “Bull Whip” from “Firegarden Suite”:
I asked Facebook friends for a Frank Zappa cover, and “Dirty Love” won out – so here it is. This isn’t especially difficult, technically – the real hard part is not laughing while you’re playing it. This is from his “Over-Nite Sensation” album, and is hysterical.
What was it with FZ and poodles?
UK was one of the best bands in the world – Eddie Jobson, Bill Bruford, Alan Holdsworth and John Wetton. Their first album is incredible, and this is the first song on the album, and I wanted to do a heavy bass cover of this great song.
Another favorite UK song is from their second album, “Danger Money,” which had two Frank Zappa alums – the aforementioned Eddie Jobson and Terry Bozzio on drums (UK’s lineup changed after the first album, with Holdsworth and Bruford departing, and Bozzio joining Jobson and Wetton. I saw them on the “Danger Money” tour opening for Tull’s “Stormwatch” tour in Nashville. Mhm. Yeah.
Well, “Danger Money” has some great songs including this one, “Rendezvous 6.02.” Wetton explained at least once that it is a ghost story, but how it’s a ghost story is beyond me. Fantastic chorus-d up piano (sounds like rainy piano, sort of dark and melancholic – Tony Banks used it to great effect at this same time and I wish it would make a come back).
Here it is: Rendezvous 6.02:
I have wanted to hear “The Only Thing She Needs” played with a bit more vigor, so I covered it this weekend, doubling a number of crazy things that I’ve always thought should be there. It is a fantastic song, and has only a couple of slightly difficult sections, but just POUNDS it out. So here is my hyper-bass UK cover – “The Only Thing She Needs” – with lots of dark aggressive overdrive and crunch!
Today I learned “Carrying No Cross” – a favorite – but it is so easy to play I doubt I will make a video of it, and the bass seems like it should be in a more supportive role.