Crystal Planet (Joe Satriani ‘Crystal Planet’)
On this album Satch seemed rejuvenated by the success of the G3 tours. It was definitely his best effort for a number of years. Obviously with a Satch record there’s a lot of great guitar playing but in 98 we were wondering whether he had anything new to offer. He’d attempted to deliver new directions on his previous records and hadn’t quite hit the mark. Crystal Planet kind of went forwards and backwards at the same time. He went back to the Surfing song based formula, just doing what he does best, melodic instrumentals with incredible guitar but took his tone, licks and image into a brand new direction. And it worked very well indeed!
Azzura / Big Sky Azzura (Al Di Meola ‘The Infinite Desire’)
This is one of my fave pieces of music. The live version on the DVD One Of The Nights is absolutely incredible and literally chokes me to tears. That’s one of the best music DVDs money can buy. Al Di is on extremely fine form, like always, so it’s no surprise to find some incredible rhythm playing dotted with some absolutely stunning runs. The rest of the album has some amazing guitar work too, with Steve Vai joining Al Di on another Race With Devil On Spanish Highway update, Race With Devil On Turkish Highway! As Di Meola matured so did his composition. This is truly wonderful music.
Suddenly Spring (Warren Cuccurullo ‘Road Rage’)
After the phenomenal Thanks To Frank, Warren released the record Machine Language in 97. I bought it without hesitation. However, it was not what I had been hoping for. It was not more Thanks To Frank but was some very ambient stuff all created with a rather spectacular effects setup. It wasn’t a bad album, it just wasn’t full of melody and awesome guitar solos. It was spectacular but in a totally different kind of way. So when Road Rage was released I again bought without hesitation hoping for more Thanks To Frank! The formula is similar … maybe Warren’s a little more off-the-wall throughout and there’s a lot more jamming. Not as good as Thanks To Frank but at times it’s absolutely blinding. Suddenly Spring is a fantastic little acoustic piece that you could be forgiven for thinking is Jimmy Page!
Prelude to April (Yngwie Malmsteen ‘Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra’)
It had to happen eventually. Eventually Yngwie was gonna get to play with an orchestra. And the strange thing is that he fits right in, even when his Stratocaster is screaming out of his 2 Marshall 4x12s! But it’s when he gets chance to grab the neck of his nylon acoustic he really shines. And my fave is Prelude to April, which is a wonderful example of exactly that!
Sugar (System of a Down ‘System of a Down’)
One of the best bands of modern times in my opinion and quite possibly one of the finest debut records. This is relentless from start to finish!
Have a great weekend! It’s snowing here, I may well have to get the valves humming to keep warmed up, get some great music in my ears, fire up the DAW and try some christmas carols drop tuned to C (for Christmas of course!).