Review Summary: Quite possibly Joe Satriani's best ever thanks to key tracks such as 'The Extremist', 'Why', and 'Rubina's Blue Sky Happiness'. A must have for any instrumental rock fan.
Joe Satriani is regarded as one of the best guitarists around, with his technical proficiency and unique style thanks to his "pitch axis theory". He also taught legends such as Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett to be the guitar heroes they are today (although Hammett is lacking in many areas). Satch's 1989 effort Flying In A Blue Dream
was a strong album, getting strong promotion in the southern states and even featuring a song on the soundtrack to the movie Say Anything
. However, in 1992 Satriani outdid himself, releasing The Extremist
, which would prove to be his most successfull album to date. Tracks like 'Summer Song' quickly received radio airplay, and it is still used on many car commercials even today. 'Cryin' and 'Friends' were also minor hits, and even 'War' got airplay on Power Rangers
advertisements. Overall this album is usually thought of to be Satriani's next to best effort, trailing behind the just about perfect Surfing With The Alien
Kicking things off is a very atmospheric and happy track, Friends
. It contains a very nostalgic feel for good times with one's good friends, and of course has strong lead guitar work. Joe Satriani always manages to put good melodies in every song of his, but one thing that makes him stick out is the rhythm work on his songs. Unlike other "shredders", the backing parts to his songs play a key role in the feel of the song, which is shown clearly on Friends. The Extremist
is one of my favorites thanks to the rhythm work of Satriani. A great guitar riff opens up the song, and his lead lines in the verse flow absolutely perfectly with the change in the riff behind it. A typical great track from Satch, this one also even features lead harmonica, performed by the man himself. But what puts this song above the rest is the way he changes the chorus at the end of the song, at 2:48 it begins like we had previously heard it, but the second time around he changes up the chord progression and gives the song a great climax.
is a very hard track, and quite possibly Joe Satriani's most aggressive ever. Once again he shows a display of solid rhythm guitar work and lead work, accenting the lead melodies with a good riff constantly. There is only flaw in this song, being that the track is relatively long and it is fairly easy to get lost in it. Now, why is that a bad thing? Because it feels like the verse gets constantly repeated, but that doesn't detract much from the quality of the song. Of course, no album is perfect. This is shown by Cryin'
, a slow ballad which suffers from a poor rhythm section, and not even Satch's beautiful lead guitar can save this one. Satriani can definitely do slow songs like we have seen before (especially on Surfing With The Alien), but this one feels like it did not get enough attention.
But we pick things back with a very upbeat and catchy track, Rubina's Blue Sky Happiness
. Very unique, even for Joe Satriani, as it features some strong acoustic guitar work which creates a perfect mood for the rest of the song. Things take a more serious turn a little further in the song when the lead guitar comes in, but once again we shown that happy acoustic diddly and life goes on. Anyone who tries to claim that Joe Satriani is a one dimensional guitar player and is just like those other "shredders" needs to listen to this album, and especially this song. They may even recognize Summer Song
, which was often played on the radio in the early 90s and is still featured in commercials. The title of the track says it all, as it really is another easy going song that reeks of good times. More catchy lead work is flashed on this one, and Satriani brings in one of his best solos in the middle of it to round everything off. A grade A track by every means, and not to be missed.
Up next is the lovely Tears In The Rain
, a classical guitar interlude that just features arpeggiated chords with a light keyboard background. For the longest time I thought this was the last track on the album, as I originally had the album burnt off of a friend. It served great purpose to me as the closer, and I feel like now that I know where it actually belongs it doesn't fit quite as well. Still, nothing amazing, but nothing bad. Next we once again see Satriani's versatility with a song that sounds completely different from everything else on the album, but still sounds like Satch. Why
is my favorite off the album, featuring doubled lead guitar throughout the song in a very heartbreaking melody that never ceases to amaze. Not one weak moment at all in this song, it continues to build up and comes to a climax right at the perfect time. Satriani delves into a guitar solo and comes to a peak in that, and sends things right down with a wah-infested tapping run that comes back with a single string lick that segues perfectly into the chorus-like theme we had heard earlier, only this time with an extra guitar added in for a bigger feel. Easily one of Joe Satriani's best songs ever.
can sometimes be overlooked, and it should not be. It is another rocker with a similar feel to Summer Song that is highlighted by the different lead style in the song. The best part of this track is Satriani's top notch outro guitar solo that sticks out like a 2007 BMW in a junkyard, except the rest of the song is by no means a junkyard. While one may forget about this song from time, it is still a quality Satch song. New Blues
is a very laid back song that is once again different from everything else on the album. Beginning with a very soft bluesy feel for a while, it jumps right out with a guitar solo and makes things nice and loud again, but yet eventually brings us back to the laid back blues that we love. While not the most standout track on the album, it is still a good one to close off the album.
Overall The Extremist
is one of Joe Satriani's best and most focused albums that should never be overlooked just because Surfing With The Alien
is simply amazing. It is infested with quality songs and serves as a benchmark in Satriani's career.