(Sony Music Entertainment)
Guitar virtuoso, solo instrumentalist, guitar instructor, founding member of Chickenfoot and onetime member of Deep Purple, releases his 15th solo album, two years after his 'Unstoppable Momentum' opus.
Quite a multi-instrumentalist, Satch plays occasional keyboard, bass and harmonica in addition to lead guitar, and the album also features keyboardplayer Mike Keneally, drummers Marco Minnemann and Vinnie Colaiuta, bassists Bryan Beller, Chris Chaney and Bobby Vega.
Satriani's solo work has sold ten million albums world-wide making him one of the most successful solo guitarists in rock and as a teacher in his early days, students including Kirk Hammett, Steve Vai and Alex Skolnick have all gone on to find fame. Add to that 15 Grammy Award nominations and that's quite a career.
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Growing up in New York, Satriani was inspired to learn to play guitar when he heard of Hendrix's death, and studied under Jazz musicians guitarist Billy Bauer and pianist Lennie Tristano, whose technically demanding greatly influenced his style. While studying music, he ventured into tuition, Steve Vai an early student of Satriani's.
On moving to California, he continued teaching and also worked with the Squares, then The Greg Khin Band, before recording his debut album 'Not Of This Earth' in 1985 (released the following year).
It was only when he released his second set 'Surfing With The Alien' in 1987 (which charted well) and Vai's success with Dave Lee Roth, during which time Vai was openly praising Satriani, that Steve found success and became a recognised name. 'Flying In A Blue Dream' rounded off the 80s, which also saw Satriani working with Mick Jagger, Possessed, Crowded House and Blue Oyster Cult.
Photo credit: Chapman Baehler
During the 90s Satriani continued to release strong and successful instrumental solo albums, including 'The Extremist', 'Joe Satriani', 'Time Machine' and 'Crystal Planet', while session work included Alice Cooper (on the mega successful 'Hey Stoopid') and Spinal Tap. Notably, Satriani founded the G3 concert tour, which featured (at various times) Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Schenker, Steve Morse, Steve Lukather and Uli Jon Roth. Then there's the tour with Deep Purple, replacing the recently departed Blackmore. Live shows from this period are to be sought out.
'Engines Of Creation' opened the new millennium and his solo work continued with aplomb. Between 'Strange Beautiful Music', 'Is There Love In Space', 'Super Colossal', 'Professor Satchafunkilus', 'Black Swans' and 'Unstoppable Momentum', Joe Satriani also recorded with Chickenfoot (including Van Halen's Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Chad Smith). And not forgetting session work with Ian Gillan. Appearing in films as well as their soundtracks, and designed and endorsed guitars, amplifiers and effects pedals for Ibanez and Marshall. No mean feat.
This album, 'Shockwave Supernova', is classically Satriani, the title track opens with some blistering guitar and a solid crunchy riff, and then some very fluid guitar work. The transition from squeaky technical work to crunchy and back encompasses a wide range and is very smooth.
Photo credit: Duncan McGlynn
'Lost In Memory' follows and it more atmospheric, and has a soft yet tribal rhythm section, the guitar work here is reminiscent of Uli Jon Roth. 'Crazy Joey' is a funkier number that edges on James Brown, while 'In My Pocket' is slightly blusier (the harmonica a good touch here).
'On My Peregrine Wings' soars highly, while 'San Francisco Blue' is a standout solid blues number that gets you nodding. In contrast 'Keep On Movin'' is smoother rock number with fusion hints, and 'All Of My Life' is easy (not quite lounge but a nod in that direction). 'Scarborough Stomp' is catchy as heck and is going straight on my playlist.
'Butterfly And Zebra', running at just under two minutes, is a perfect interlude; a few notes in the right places, some thoughtfulness, makes a LOT of difference (so many shredders can learn from that).
'If There Is No Heaven' is a good driving number, a serious nod to the 80s rock/pop, it's rhythmic and there's some fantastic guitar work. Superb!
'Goodbye Supernova' closes the 15 track album with solid feeling and the keyboard/guitar is good.
What struck me about this album is that it's not as blistering guitar fronted as I'd expected from the world's bestselling solo guitarist, nor anywhere near as heavy beginning to end (it does have some moments). Equally, over 15 instrumental tracks, at no time was it boring either. While there's a nod to fusion and shred (aka fretboard wank-fest), neither are fully embraced (thank heavens for that, as an album full of either is a boring waste of everyone's time).
So once I'd got my head round the limit of out-and-out rock or Metal (after the opening title track) yet just how good this album is (the talent comes through in abundance with the merest hint of shred bursts).
For me, personally, when Satriani does rock or blues, I'm one happy bunny.
JOE SATRIANI NOVEMBER 2015 UK TOUR
Sunday 1st November: MANCHESTER O2 APOLLO
Monday 2nd November: BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY HALL
Tuesday 3rd November: GLASGOW ROYAL CONCERT HALL
Wednesday 4th November: SHEFFIELD CITY HALL
Thursday 5th November: CARDIFF ST. DAVID'S HALL
Saturday 7th November: SOUTHEND CLIFFS PAVILION
Sunday 8th November: BRISTOL COLSTON HALL
Monday 9th November: PORTSMOUTH
Tuesday 10th November: LONDON EVENTIM HAMMERSMITH APOLLO