Steve Vai, ‘Vai/Gash’: Album Review

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It is maybe no shock that Steve Vai was prepared to chop unfastened a bit of again in 1991. He’d established his guitar-virtuoso cred throughout a decade of working with Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Whitesnake – arduous, if completed, tenures accompanied by numerous levels of high-personality drama. He’d lately put his solo profession into excessive gear and was using excessive from popularity of his sophomore effort, 1990’s Ardour and Warfare. Amid all that, and what got here after, Vai/Gash is one thing of an outlier, a second of adrenalized abandon that is lastly being launched practically 32 years after it was recorded.

Gash was John Sombrotto, a Queens, N.Y., native who Vai met by mutual bike buddies. Gash, who died in 1998 (two days after Vai’s father), had survived a near-fatal accident when he was 21 and, although scarred (because the nickname suggests), obtained again on the bike and wound up in Los Angeles throughout the early ’80s. Vai gravitated to Gash’s “appeal and magnetic charisma,” and he had an inkling his new good friend may present the correct voice for some “biker-type songs” Vai had been demoing, a clutch of tunes totally different from the technically minded materials on which the guitarist had staked his repute.

They didn’t work collectively lengthy – about two weeks by Vai’s estimation, and through that point recorded a half-hour’s price of music. They had been, as Vai has described, “a selected form of music to take heed to after I was using my Harley-Davidson bike with my buddies” and likewise “paying homage to a sure kind of rock music I loved as a young person within the Seventies.” They’re less complicated, in different phrases, extra direct and fast and with a bash-’em-out high quality that we hadn’t heard from Vai as much as that time. Vai/Gash is about riffs and songcraft, in addition to a spirit of arduous rock that was on the time subsumed by the so-called grunge that was defining the second. If launched on the time, it probably would have failed, however greater than three a long time later, there is no questioning the authenticity and ferocious ardour behind these songs. As Gash sings on “New Sensation,” “I obtained the Rolling Stones and my wheel’s on fireplace, I do not want any extra.”

Vai/Gash kicks off with “Within the Wind,” using a Stones/glam-fusing guitar riff with piano pounding within the background and the stacked, in-your-face vocal harmonies that populate a lot of the album; it is an anthem for many who choose their trip sans helmet. “Let’s Jam,” “Hazard Zone” and “She Saved My Life Tonight” hew towards Sundown Boulevard heavy rock, whereas “Busted” boasts the galloping gait of Van Halen‘s “Scorching for Trainer.” Vai/Gash‘s change-ups, in the meantime, are the bluesy bounce of “Lady Fever” and “Flowers of Fireplace,” an influence ballad with majestic intentions that will be low-hanging fruit for a producer like Mutt Lange.

It is intriguing to consider the place Vai’s total profession could have gone if there was extra time to make music with Gash, and what sort of stability he would have struck between this sort of musical meat-and-potatoes and his artier pursuits. We’ll by no means know, and although Vai/Gash is unlikely to be anybody’s first selection in his canon, it is actually a worthwhile different.

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