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Thread: Steve Vai - His First 30 Years Documentary

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    Steve Vai - His First 30 Years Documentary




    This is the first documentary covering Steve Vai's life from 1960 to 1990. (Co-written by Steve Vai.)
    The documentary has hundreds of Vai-centric facts and stories that even the most ardent fan will not have known. Complete with a Vaiíesque quirky sense of humor, the video covers Vaiís life growing up, attending Berklee College, playing with several artists like Frank Zappa, Alcatrazz, the David Lee Roth band, and Whitesnake, the recording of both his solo albums Flex-Able and Passion and Warfare, plus Vaiís role in the movie Crossroads, and how he helped create the JEM guitar.

    Other information, photos, etc. can be found here: https://bit.ly/3B9P0ZH
    Link to Arlen Roth's SoundCloud https://bit.ly/3cLQHTL
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    00:00:00 - Intro to Steve Vai documentary
    00:00:36 - Steve Vai growing up in Carle Place, and his family
    00:01:20 - His first musical revelation
    00:01:53 - His love for the musical Westside Story
    00:02:35 - His first musical instrument
    00:03:11 - His first records
    00:04:09 - His first band is formed
    00:04:57 - His second band
    00:05:11 - He is introduced to Led Zeppelin
    00:05:52 - Steve Vaiís first guitar
    00:06:23 - Vai tells his Dad he wants to play the guitar
    00:06:54 - Taking lessons from Joe Satriani
    00:08:29 - Vai meets Bill Westcott
    00:09:08 - Vai plays the Tuba
    00:11:51 - Vai has one last blow-out before college
    00:12:19 - Vai almost gets busted by the cops
    00:13:04 - Vaiís ritual of the tuna melt
    00:13:46 - The worm had turned
    00:15:45 - One last drive around Carle Place
    00:16:27 - Steve Vai heads off to Berklee College of Music
    00:17:40 - Via meets his future wife, Pia
    00:18:16 - The first time he tried to connect with Frank Zappa
    00:18:51 - He talks to Zappa
    00:20:04 - Vaiís first mention in a music magazine
    00:20:29 - Vai considers leaving Berklee
    00:21:01 - Moving out to California
    00:21:47 - Transcribing Zappaís music
    00:22:18 - Trying out for Frank Zappaís band
    00:23:00 - Frank Zappaís thoughts on Vaiís guitar playing
    00:23:37 - Vai goes on his first Zappa tour
    00:23:51 - Vai asks Zappa for an honest appraisal of his playing
    00:24:34 - Onset of Vaiís depression
    00:25:41 - Vai finds some help
    00:26:53 - Vai reclaims his mojo
    00:28:11 - The Palermo, Italy riot
    00:29:44 - What Vai learned from Zappa
    00:30:10 - The ethic he learned from Zappa
    00:31:43 - SYVA studio and FlexAble
    00:32:21 - Trying out for Alice Cooper
    00:33:12 - Building Stucco Blue Studio
    00:34:34 - Why the name FlexAble is the name of his first album
    00:35:44 - Why he said no to a record deal
    00:36:33 - The birth of Akashic and Urantia Records
    00:37:55 - FlexAble is released
    00:39:08 - Joining Alcatrazz
    00:40:14 - Alcatrazz works on their album
    00:40:54 - Alcatrazzís God Bless Video
    00:41:58 - The movie Crossroads
    00:42:20 - Arlen Roth
    00:42:38 - The original duel
    00:43:29 - Ry Cooder calls Guitar Player magazine looking for talent
    00:43:52 - Vai is hired for the movie Crossroads
    00:44:20 - Vai did not want to be in the movie Crossroads
    00:44:51 - Shuggie Otis plays in the duel
    00:45:04 - Another Frank Zappa connection
    00:45:27 - Vaiís recycle riffs for Bad Horsie
    00:46:04 - Eugeneís Trick Bag and who played what
    00:46:26 - Niccolo Paganiniís connection to Crossroads
    00:47:09 - Steve Vaiís other acting gigs
    00:47:50 - Vai gets a call from David Lee Roth
    00:48:28 - David Lee Rothís acting career and movie
    00:49:12 - Billy Sheehan steps in
    00:49:24 - Rothís first choice of guitarist
    00:51:19 - Eat ĎEm and Smile
    00:52:04 - Guitar makers want Steve Vai
    00:52:42 - The creation of the Flame guitar and the Monkey Grip
    00:52:58 - Vaiís guitar is stolen
    00:53:09 - Vai goes to Performance Guitar
    00:53:23 - The prototype JEMs before Ibanez
    00:53:44 - Ibanez needs their own Eddie Van Halen
    00:54:39 - Vaiís request to all guitar companies
    00:55:35 - Steve Vai signs with Ibanez
    00:55:46 - Unveiling the Ibanez JEM
    00:55:56 - Why Vai named it the JEM guitar
    00:56:33 - David Lee Rothís Skyscraper album
    00:57:58 - Billy Sheehan leaves the band
    00:58:32 - Just like Paradise and the show 90210
    00:59:06 - Vai turns in his resignation to Roth
    00:59:30 - Whitesnake comes along
    01:01:58 - The influence the Ibanez 7-string had over music
    01:02:42 - Vai turns his attention to Passion and Warfare
    01:03:59 - What was Passion and Warfare written around?
    01:05:47 - Sound effects on Passion and Warfare
    01:08:42 - The melody Vai has reused several times
    01:09:32 - Vaiís mastery in the studio
    01:10:55 - For the Love of God backstory
    01:13:22 - Finding a record deal for Passion and Warfare
    01:14:46 - Releasing Passion and Warfare
    01:15:16 - Critic response to Passion and Warfare
    01:15:44 - Why did he not tour for Passion and Warfare
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    Vai's tech Elwood Francis is now the bassist in ZZ Top...
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    I remember when Steve Vai wrote for Guitar Player magazine several years before he worked with Roth. He was a talented transcriber who transcribed a lot of guitar music into notation and tab.
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    I liked how it went when Dave went solo. Dave had a unique band and it was no Van Halen copy. It was definitely it’s own thing and how Sheehan and Vai played off each other was great. Nobody did anything like that before or since.

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    It says Walmart refused to stock Passion and Warfare because of the cover.

    I had to go back and look, I guess it was the porn of the angels/sprites? They don't even have nipples.

    Fucking nuts...


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    Vai never became a legend like EVH, Hendrix or SRV. That level of uniqueness is so rare. Vai was a gun fire hire and one talented enough to satisfy the hard to satisfy Frank Zappa. Vai replaced Yngwie and had to be good enough to play in Roth’s post VH band. Vai never was a rockstar. But what Vai was successful at was taking the resources he made from working for other people and doing his own thing as an independent artist. He has his niche and has made a good living doing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro Express View Post
    Vai never became a legend like EVH, Hendrix or SRV. That level of uniqueness is so rare. Vai was a gun fire hire and one talented enough to satisfy the hard to satisfy Frank Zappa. Vai replaced Yngwie and had to be good enough to play in Roth’s post VH band. Vai never was a rockstar. But what Vai was successful at was taking the resources he made from working for other people and doing his own thing as an independent artist. He has his niche and has made a good living doing it.
    Agreed. And thats a pretty remarkable thing to accomplish. Even by today's standards to still be relevant and able to draw in great crowds in theatres etc.
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    And actually still makes Dave early solo stuff still relevant among the millions of metal guitar players out there who are still learning and playing stuff from EEAS and Skyscraper.

    For that reason I think an EEAS band tour would sell better than a Dave solo tour at this point and there is room for it to be tuned down a step or two to help with Dave's vocals since it was originally recorded higher than Van Halen.

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    The difference with Vai compared to Hendrix and EVH is most of his music didn't gain the commercial and especially broad pop appeal to a wide range of audiences.

    Technically Steve is right up there in unique playing ability with the legends... but outside of his stint with EEAS his music has been limited to smaller niche realms of rock with his time with Zappa and most of his solo work. Bottom line... he can play the strings off a guitar and compose masterful, scorching guitar wanking pieces... he just can't write catchy pop songs.
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    Just like Kenny Wayne Shepherd!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro Express View Post
    I remember when Steve Vai wrote for Guitar Player magazine several years before he worked with Roth. He was a talented transcriber who transcribed a lot of guitar music into notation and tab.
    That was the first tab for Eruption I saw, that Vai one in Guitar Player magazine in either 1983 or 1984.

    Never heard any of the stuff he did with Zappa I don't think. I've only listened to a small amount of what Zappa recorded.

    I remember reading that Vai was tapped to replace Malmsteen in Alcatrazz, so I assumed he had to be good.

    A bud of mine back then got the Flexible album, and I listened to it once or twice.

    The first real exposure I had was the EEAS album. Back then, several years into playing myself and still totally into that 80s flash/EVH style of playing, hearing EEAS was a jaw dropper. Perhaps not quite as jaw dropping as when I first heard Yngwie on the Steeler album, but that combination of Vai and Sheehan on EEAS was a "holy shit!" reaction. Particularly since EEAS came out a few months after 5150, which was a disappointment to me. Honestly, EEAS to my ears was much more in the spirit of CVH than the totality of what Van Halen did with Hagar.

    Think I saw Crossroads on HBO/Cinemax/Showtime/The Movie Channel later in 1986, or maybe early 1987...whenever it was. An okay movie. Having the Karate Kid came across a bit lame even back then, but the guitar duel at the end was cool.

    Skyscraper was good. Not as good as EEAS. Felt that way back then, still feels that way today. Skyscraper did have a few great Roth solo tracks, no doubt. Wasn't start-to-finish great, though.

    Didn't much care for the album Vai did with Whitesnake.

    Listened to Passion And Warfare a few times when it first came out. By the time the 1990s began, I wasn't really listening to shred rock anymore and was working on other aspects of guitar playing-wise besides the Totally Bitching Everything And The Kitchen Sink Ultimate Flash Guitar Solo. Haven't listened to anything Vai has done since Passion And Warfare was released.
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    I hesitate to call Vai a 'technician' or a 'flash guitar shredder for hire' because it probably wouldn't be fair to sum up the entirety of his abilities that way, especially since I haven't heard anything he has done since 1990.

    Fantastic player, though. I think the one thing that is sort of along the lines of what ZahZoo said, is that Vai never was adept at writing catchy pop songs...or particularly catchy rock songs, either. I don't really know the breakdown of who did what musically on EEAS far as the writing went other than the published songwriting credits, but as far as the tunes went, the ones that were original and stand out to me today are Ladies' Night In Buffalo? and Goin' Crazy! Mostly because with those tracks they seem to have a purpose both beyond being merely skeletons for Vai to lay down (yet another) blistering speedy solo and the solos themselves are memorable and melodic. In other words, both have something other than Vai merely showing off his considerable ability.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristy View Post
    Just like Kenny Wayne Shepherd!
    Ugh.

    That kid came off like a Banana Republic version of Steve Ray Vaughan to me from the get-go. Too white, too milk-fed, too pretty and too safe to be anything other than a practitioner of the blues at best. Doubtless he knows all the 'right' blues scale notes. Doubtless he knows just when the cameras are on him so he can soulfully close his eyes in an expression of 'emoting' while he kills those blues pentatonic runs.

    He's the type of blues player acceptable for fans of bands like Train, Dave Matthews, Matchbox 20 and the like when they feel like getting 'down and dirty' by listening to some 'blues'...a culture appropriator before the term was even coined.

    I mean, Elvis Presley ripped off blues guys, too. But at least Elvis went on to get wasted on pills and bloated on fried peanut butter and bacon sandwiches and experience some real-life blues. Without knowing much of anything about Shepherd's career post mid-1990s, I'd be willing to wager his lifestyle still reflects his music: safe and soothing as a glass of unsweetened iced tea or 2% milk. And that's totally understandable, because addictions and depression are something a reasonable person would want to avoid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Ugh.

    That kid came off like a Banana Republic version of Steve Ray Vaughan to me from the get-go.

    And when KWS toured with VH the last time around, he had SRV's rhythm section backing him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twonabomber View Post
    And when KWS toured with VH the last time around, he had SRV's rhythm section backing him.
    Not a shock, I suppose. Good work for SRV's rhythm section, too.

    Yeah, that kid rubbed me the wrong way the first time I saw him on tv in the mid-1990s and heard phrases like 'blues prodigy' attached to him...the kid wasn't even old enough to drink legally yet, and his upbringing hardly sounded like it was on 'the wrong side of the tracks'...SRV at least went through some shit in his life to get blue about and paid some dues along the way before he made it.

    Nice for KWS that he still has whatever career he has. Doubtless he comes off as an authentic bluesman to whoever still reads Guitar World magazine these days.

    I see he had married one of Mel Gibson's daughters. I'm sure his love for a style of music rooted in the experience of Black America made for many an interesting conversation at the Mel Gibson house around the holidays...

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    No mention of the album Vai played on just before joining the EEAS band??

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZahZoo View Post
    The difference with Vai compared to Hendrix and EVH is most of his music didn't gain the commercial and especially broad pop appeal to a wide range of audiences.

    Technically Steve is right up there in unique playing ability with the legends... but outside of his stint with EEAS his music has been limited to smaller niche realms of rock with his time with Zappa and most of his solo work. Bottom line... he can play the strings off a guitar and compose masterful, scorching guitar wanking pieces... he just can't write catchy pop songs.
    I remember watching Steve Vai play his set at the 1992 guitar Expo from Spain on the little portable TV in my girlfriends apartment and it remains one of the most amazing pieces of guitar playing ever recorded by anyone ever.

    At the same time as being utterly moved and astounded part of me was still troubled by the fact that he was wearing an outfit with little segments cut out of the material where his tattoos were. Hendrix or EVH would never have even thought to do that because it's overthinking to a horrible degree.

    Steve Vai is a musician not a rock star. As for the writing of catchy songs I kind of agree but it's more about writing music that Roth could add catchy melodies to which is what EVH did and Vai sort of did?

    I think the biggest issue with Skyscraper is they should have kept an outside producer. There are some hidden gems in it, Hina and Two Fools may be the highlights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro Express View Post
    Vai never became a legend like EVH, Hendrix or SRV. That level of uniqueness is so rare.
    Because he doesn't really write songs...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    Because he doesn't really write songs...
    EVH really didn't write songs either. He wrote riffs. The songs were more of a result of the whole band working things out. Wolfgang actually is more of a full spectrum song writer than his dad was but his dad just had the magic. Extremely innovative and creative to the level it grabbed people and blew them away and on top of that, the guy was great live. Some people call it stardust. Whatever it is very few people have it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    I remember watching Steve Vai play his set at the 1992 guitar Expo from Spain on the little portable TV in my girlfriends apartment and it remains one of the most amazing pieces of guitar playing ever recorded by anyone ever.

    At the same time as being utterly moved and astounded part of me was still troubled by the fact that he was wearing an outfit with little segments cut out of the material where his tattoos were. Hendrix or EVH would never have even thought to do that because it's overthinking to a horrible degree.

    Steve Vai is a musician not a rock star. As for the writing of catchy songs I kind of agree but it's more about writing music that Roth could add catchy melodies to which is what EVH did and Vai sort of did?

    I think the biggest issue with Skyscraper is they should have kept an outside producer. There are some hidden gems in it, Hina and Two Fools may be the highlights.
    Vai is an eccentric technician. He admits he's not a rock guitar god. He's extremely good though and I think you appreciate him more if you play.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZahZoo View Post
    The difference with Vai compared to Hendrix and EVH is most of his music didn't gain the commercial and especially broad pop appeal to a wide range of audiences.

    Technically Steve is right up there in unique playing ability with the legends... but outside of his stint with EEAS his music has been limited to smaller niche realms of rock with his time with Zappa and most of his solo work. Bottom line... he can play the strings off a guitar and compose masterful, scorching guitar wanking pieces... he just can't write catchy pop songs.
    Yup. You have to have great songs. Hendrix had a few and he could write great lyrics. Van Halen was a magical combination. What's often overlooked is David Lee Roth's lyrics. Sure some of it is about partying and T&A but they just are great lyrics. He was the man for that stuff. People need something to grab them and that's songs. Fancy guitar tricks are actually quite forgettable. You need more than that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vinnie Velvet View Post
    Agreed. And thats a pretty remarkable thing to accomplish. Even by today's standards to still be relevant and able to draw in great crowds in theatres etc.
    I know a lot of great musicians who are no longer working in music. It's hard to make a good living in it. You really do have to be willing to starve for your art. Vai was and it it worked out good for him but he took the risks, he put the effort in and he used his brain to make it happen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    I hesitate to call Vai a 'technician' or a 'flash guitar shredder for hire' because it probably wouldn't be fair to sum up the entirety of his abilities that way, especially since I haven't heard anything he has done since 1990.
    Try listening to the first 4 or 5 songs on Passion and Warfare, we usually like the same kind of stuff so you might like it. If nothing else there is a lot of music going on.

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    This is pretty fucking ghey and retarded but Ease was the best solo Vai ever did.



    And all you cretins should be thankful Ghrol hasn't corrupted Vai...yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristy View Post
    And all you cretins should be thankful Ghrol hasn't corrupted Vai...yet.
    I would pay to see that! A good symbiotic relationship. Grohl’s songwriting and singing skills matched up to Vai’s skills would have to be ripping. Add Taylor Hawkins’ 16 year old son Shane on the drums! That kid killed it at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert.
    Hey Jackass! You need to [Register] or log in to view signatures on ROTHARMY.COM!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mushroom View Post
    I would pay to see that! A good symbiotic relationship. Grohl’s songwriting and singing skills matched up to Vai’s skills would have to be ripping. Add Taylor Hawkins’ 16 year old son Shane on the drums! That kid killed it at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert.
    Jesus, has rock music finally become another vanilla Bring Your Kid To Work Day?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Jesus, has rock music finally become another vanilla Bring Your Kid To Work Day?

    Hah! Itís the Las Vegas-ification of rock and roll. Family friendly!


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    Quote Originally Posted by Seshmeister View Post
    Try listening to the first 4 or 5 songs on Passion and Warfare, we usually like the same kind of stuff so you might like it. If nothing else there is a lot of music going on.
    I did as you instructed.

    Hadn't heard that record in...32 years.

    Without a doubt a LOT of music going on! I kinda found the backing non-guitar music more interesting than much of the lead guitar over the top of it, whereas thirty years ago I probably would have been concentrating much more on what Vai was doing.

    I think a lot of my attitude still reflects my general feelings of the time, which is to say by the end of the 1980's I was just burned out on Bitchin' Hard Rock Guitar Solos. The music I have the earliest memories of, much of which was supplied by hand-me-down records from older relatives, was more song-oriented even when guitar was one of the primary instruments. Someone like Jimi Hendrix excepted in terms of 'guitar hero' type stuff, most of those records I listened to in the 1970's were along the lines of The Beatles, or The Stones or The Who. Along with K.C. and the Sunshine Band, The Monkees, The Bee Gees...Blondie, The Cars. With most of those bands, the song was the thing. Even my favorite band of the 1970's, KISS, were a guitar-oriented band and Ace Frehley had the image to be sure. Even as big a Frehley fan as I was, what Ace was doing wasn't any massive detraction from that blues pentatonic based thing every other rock guitar player back then was doing. Even with Black Sabbath, to me when I listen to those early Sabbath records it is still the songs that stand out rather than the solos.

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    Hearing Van Halen in 1980, THAT was the type of playing that actually inspired me to take up the instrument. But my first few years of playing was also learning songs from all the other bands I listed above. Well, maybe not so much K.C. and the Sunshine Band, but the first couple of years were largely learning songs from start-to-finish, including solos.

    Vai was sort of in the middle of the pack for me in the 1980's, mostly because I didn't hear about him until the middle of the decade. After Van Halen, after Randy Rhoads, after Yngwie Malmsteen, after Vivian Campbell, after George Lynch, after Warren DeMartini. After Vai broke big, then it was Satriani, then Paul Gilbert: a decade of shred wore me out. More than a few of those players I listed were just as flash-in-the-pan as their fretwork in the long haul. The ones that still resonate for me, it's usually the tunes that continue to do it, with a great guitar solo being icing on the cake. I can still listen to Van Halen or the first two Ozzy records or the first two Dio records and select tracks here and there from the others because the songs still hold up.

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    The thing with Vai for me...

    Technical ability in spades. More technical ability 32 years ago then I have today. Fantastic ability.

    Listening to those first several tracks off of Passion And Warfare...it's not for me to say what a musician should be doing in terms of expressing themselves. Once the music is created and heard, like any other art form it is going to be interpreted by whoever is experiencing it as they will.

    Vai's playing STILL comes across to me largely as a technical exercise. As a player, he seems uncontrollable or lacking self-control. He starts off a solo picking a melody - he had several moments in those tracks I re-listened to where he was doing stuff that sang and cried - then almost as if he can't help himself it's yet another lightning blitz all over the fretboard. Couple this with that overdriven, plastic-sounding tone of his...it still becomes tiresome to my ears rather quickly. There's no sense of pacing or dynamics or tension. There's no sense of emotional release when he blazes fast because it's his stock, go-to move.

    Again, I would hesitate to say that represents the entirety of him as a musician, because I haven't listened to him since 1990. However, by 1990, I was Steve Vai'd out. It was the same thing with Yngwie by his third solo album, in that when that came around I was Yngwie'd out: he'd already told me everything musically that he was going to.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mushroom View Post
    Hah! It’s the Las Vegas-ification of rock and roll. Family friendly!

    I'd lament the passing of the rock music form to where it is today, but clearly I'd be late to the party, because that Las Vegas-ification of rock has been underway for a quarter-century already.

    I'm just a perturbed old codger wistfully reminiscing about when rock and roll actually 'meant something, man!'...even though I'm probably looking at the distant past through nostalgia glasses with a crack in them.

    At least the stuff I listened to in the early 1980's drove my parents up a wall. Contrast that with that Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, which is as kiddie-safe as safe can be. A pointless display to keep the various brands onstage economically viable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mushroom View Post
    I would pay to see that! A good symbiotic relationship. Grohlís songwriting and singing skills matched up to Vaiís skills would have to be ripping. Add Taylor Hawkinsí 16 year old son Shane on the drums! That kid killed it at the Taylor Hawkins tribute concert.
    Lay off the dope, old man. The Yellow Tooth Monster has zero songwriting skills. Exactly why that asshole keep on doing other people's songs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    I'd lament the passing of the rock music form to where it is today, but clearly I'd be late to the party, because that Las Vegas-ification of rock has been underway for a quarter-century already.

    I'm just a perturbed old codger wistfully reminiscing about when rock and roll actually 'meant something, man!'...even though I'm probably looking at the distant past through nostalgia glasses with a crack in them.

    At least the stuff I listened to in the early 1980's drove my parents up a wall. Contrast that with that Taylor Hawkins tribute concert, which is as kiddie-safe as safe can be. A pointless display to keep the various brands onstage economically viable.
    Everything comes and goes. Some people got to see jazz in itís heyday. Some got to see the big bands play. Some saw Elvis. Some saw The Beetles. We got to see Van Halen and other great bands. Every century has a magical decade or two. We missed the roaring 20ís but high school and college landed right in the 80ís. I knew it was a magical time then. When people started to wipe their ass with the 80ís in the 90ís and call it the decade of greed I just laughed. There has been far more greed now than there was in the 80ís. Some people actually went to jail for banking and securities fraud back then. If you are politically connected, you get a free pass now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    I did as you instructed.

    Hadn't heard that record in...32 years.

    Without a doubt a LOT of music going on! I kinda found the backing non-guitar music more interesting than much of the lead guitar over the top of it, whereas thirty years ago I probably would have been concentrating much more on what Vai was doing.

    I think a lot of my attitude still reflects my general feelings of the time, which is to say by the end of the 1980's I was just burned out on Bitchin' Hard Rock Guitar Solos. The music I have the earliest memories of, much of which was supplied by hand-me-down records from older relatives, was more song-oriented even when guitar was one of the primary instruments. Someone like Jimi Hendrix excepted in terms of 'guitar hero' type stuff, most of those records I listened to in the 1970's were along the lines of The Beatles, or The Stones or The Who. Along with K.C. and the Sunshine Band, The Monkees, The Bee Gees...Blondie, The Cars. With most of those bands, the song was the thing. Even my favorite band of the 1970's, KISS, were a guitar-oriented band and Ace Frehley had the image to be sure. Even as big a Frehley fan as I was, what Ace was doing wasn't any massive detraction from that blues pentatonic based thing every other rock guitar player back then was doing. Even with Black Sabbath, to me when I listen to those early Sabbath records it is still the songs that stand out rather than the solos.
    I still get a kick out of playing Ace’s stuff to this day. Played Shock Me last night. I have a JMP-1 in my bass rack and it’s been there for years to use as a backup if needed. I have it programmed to get the Ace vibe which it does real well. But I plugged into it and did the Ace thing.

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    For me it’s tone and feel. I love great vibrato and doing things to make things more interesting while staying in the pocket. I love people who have their own tone.

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    Good interview with Mr. Vai on his Eat em and Smile amps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitro Express View Post
    I still get a kick out of playing Ace’s stuff to this day. Played Shock Me last night. I have a JMP-1 in my bass rack and it’s been there for years to use as a backup if needed. I have it programmed to get the Ace vibe which it does real well. But I plugged into it and did the Ace thing.
    Ace was always a fun player, which made sense or was fitting because KISS were basically (and solely) a fun band. That's not a dig at them, either. They were just a fun, entertaining rock band.

    Shock Me always stood out as the quintessential Frehley solo, far as the KISS studio stuff went. Closely followed by Calling Dr. Love. Frehley's solos were punchy and sang. Memorable solos to me are like micro-songs within the song themselves.

    And as you say, Ace had the tone, feel, vibrato: the Ace thing. That it is all elementary on a technical level matters not: it works precisely because it IS stripped down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry View Post
    Ace was always a fun player, which made sense or was fitting because KISS were basically (and solely) a fun band. That's not a dig at them, either. They were just a fun, entertaining rock band.

    Shock Me always stood out as the quintessential Frehley solo, far as the KISS studio stuff went. Closely followed by Calling Dr. Love. Frehley's solos were punchy and sang. Memorable solos to me are like micro-songs within the song themselves.

    And as you say, Ace had the tone, feel, vibrato: the Ace thing. That it is all elementary on a technical level matters not: it works precisely because it IS stripped down.
    When the guys in Rush say they learned a lot from KISS that's a pretty damn good compliment. I saw Ace not too long ago. Had a good time. My daughter thinks he's unique. He pretty much let's his band carry him for most the show but his solos were spot on. He played those great and he was in a pretty good mood that night cracking a few jokes here and there. The thing is, nobody plays Ace like Ace he's got that vibrato and cool chicken picking thing he does. Ace can tell a story with his fingers. Most guitarists can't.

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    I bought two amps from a sound engineer that goes by the name Nite Bob. He grew up in NYC and he's worked with a lot of big names. He does a bit of guitar trading as a side hustle. Anyways we shoot the shit now and then and he was telling me about Ace. He said if Ace needs him as a front of the house guy, he will always do it if he can. He said he always loved working with Ace. The same with Eddie Kramer. The guy speaks highly of Ace. Sure we all know Ace is eccentric and has had substance abuse problems most his life but guys that have worked with him in a creative sense dig the guy.

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