Review Summary: Satch delivers a funky blues album that'll have your head bobbing and foot tapping. Essential for any Satch fan.
If you’ve ever heard someone discuss Joe Satriani you probably heard them say that though so and so can play faster (enter iconic ‘80s shredder here), they like Satriani better. There is a reason for this, and it’s the same reason that Rocky beat Apollo: That reason is heart. Joe Satriani plays with more heart than just about any other shredder you’ll ever listen to.
This is because the heart of Joe’s music comes from the blues, and the blues is all about heart, all about feel. Strip down his music to the core and you’ll hear the same licks that a thousand other blues musicians have used before (plus a few sweep picking and two hand tapping licks they haven’t). Steve Vai himself, the man who many consider to be the most technically proficient guitarist in the world, has confessed that he can’t play the blues (not to say Vai can’t play with heart).
This record is Satch’s jazz, blues, and funk record. It’s the album that shows where he comes from as a musician. Perhaps that’s why he opted not to give this album the typical science fiction inspired title (Not of This Earth, Surfing With the Alien), choosing instead to name it after himself.
The album has an overall laid back feel; sounding like most of it was played on a front porch somewhere or in some low-key jazz/blues club. This is not to say that it lacks energy, but it’s a record you want to put on when you feel the need to just sit back and groove.
The fact that every track on here is bluesy makes it a little repetitive. As a result the album tends a drag somewhat, and could probably stand to be a little bit shorter. Also, fans of Joe’s previous shred-work will be disappointed that his playing tends to be slow and shred-free, a result of the fact that this is blues record.
The standout tracks include Cool #9, Down, Down, Down, and Home. The first two are very jazzy with some very tasteful guitarwork. Cool #9 has a very cool (yep, cool, whodathunkit) groove to it that’ll have you bobbing your head and tapping your feet. Down, Down, Down on the other hand is very mellow, and remains to be the only truly sad song I’ve ever heard Satch do. It is, nevertheless, a lovely song.
Home is your typical Satriani ballad, beginning with a beautiful melody, building to a passionate solo before returning to the beautiful melody (very much in the tradition of Always With Me, Always With You, and Ten Words, though not as good). The rest of the album is mostly funky blues that, like Cool #9, will keep your head bobbing and foot tapping.
Although this is a guitar-centric record the drums really stand out, adding a lot to the music. The bass tends to remain in the background, but is very nicely done. Joe sings on one track, Look My Way, which while a fun little ditty makes you realize why he does instrumental records.
All in all this is an excellent album, one of Joe’s top three in my opinion. If you’re a fan of Satch, or a fan of blues/funk guitar then this album is a must-have.