This is much much heavier than anything he has done with Nirvana, the Foos, or QOTSA, so be prepared for an aural assault if you’ve never listened to underground metal, doom metal, or similarly sense-pounding metal genres.
I love to read guitarist biographies/memoirs – for inspiration, for insight, for amusement, or just to enjoy a good yarn. Some of my favorites to date include Andy Summers’ excellent “One Train Later” and Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s “Relentess“.
I’m currently reading an unofficial biography of Foo Fighter‘s frontman Dave Grohl. As often happens when I read musician biographies, I’ll end up combing through a number of their influences and checking them out on Spotify.
Which brings me to Frank Zappa. I’ve of course been aware of some of Frank Zappa’s work for a long time, having bought several of his albums many moons ago during my teens (including the excellent Hot Rats, Over-Nite Sensation, and Apostrophe, among others).
I’m currently reading “Relentless”, the memoir of Yngwie J. Malmsteen, father of neoclassical metal shred guitar, and that has me digging back through some of his earliest recordings. Which leads to the 80s hair metal band Steeler – which Malmsteen joined when he moved to the US from Sweden as a 19 year old guitar wunderkind – and their 1983 debut album simply called “Steeler”.
Surprisingly, I find the music actually rather good! Malmsteen’s playing (both rhythm and lead) is of course excellent, even though he was at stated above, only 19 at the time. Most of the jaw dropping guitar pyrotechnics he is well-known for today, were already on full display back then, as was his brilliant phrasing, vibrato and note choice.
But the rest of the band, especially singer Ron Keel, put in strong performances as well and the song writing, at least for the hair metal style of that era, is very very good.
My favorite track is probably the 6 minute long stairway-to-heaven inspired “Serenade” which closes out the 9 song album. Apart from Malmsteen’s absolutely soaring lead lines, Ron Keel really shows his range and powerful voice on that moody minor key epic rock ballad as well.
In an early May 2018 interview, rock guitar legend Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple, Rainbow) made some comments about guitar wizard Joe Satriani that really are somewhat less than complimentary. I won’t repeat the whole thing here as the interview is linked below and you can listen to it yourself.
But basically after saying that Satch is a “brilliant guitar player”, he goes on to make the declaration that Satch plays it too safe (code words for “no feel”) and that “worries” Blackmore. He says he never hears Satch “searching for notes” and playing “wrong notes” – he always plays the right notes, going so far as to say “something is wrong” with Satch’s “playing from the head” versus from the heart approach.
Well in my humble opinion Blackmore, great player and composer no doubt, is WRONG about Satch.
Yes Satch is technically almost always perfect and polished, but that’s his style and the result of the fact that he has mastered the instrument in the ways that he wants to play. He could intentionally sound sloppy (to sound like a “feel” player as per Blackmore) if he wanted to, but that’s not his normal way of playing.
That said, take a listen to the outro solo on Revelation from Professor Satchafunkalis and the Musterion of Rock. You can definitely hear Satch on there searching for notes, almost veering out of control at places, gloriously so at times, producing a wonderful blend of safe melodicism and verging on chaos exuberance.
Or listen to Andalusia from the same album for more examples of Satch in “search of notes”.
Sorry Ritchie Blackmore, it is your opinion of course, but you are wrong – you probably haven’t heard enough of Joe’s catalog of music to make the statements you did.
I came across The Wizard of Shred recently, which despite the slightly cheesy name, turns out to be a site with really really good info.
The owner is Claus Levin, who has a popular YouTube channel and several paid and free guitar courses available. I really like his way of breaking down challenges into bite sized manageable chunks and providing detailed steps to conquer those challenges, whether it’s alternate picking, sweeping, legato or anything else you want to achieve on the instrument.
Unfortunately it appears that he stopped updating this site as of Nov 2013, probably to focus his efforts more on his YT channel and other sites he runs. Nonetheless there’s still quite the treasure trove of insights to be found on The Wizard of Shred. Do check it out!