This review was originally posted on the first Toorak Times web site where publications ceased on that site in March 2017. The old site will be permanently closed in 2020 and these reviews are being re-published in order to preserve them on the current Toorak Times/Tagg site.
Cream Of The Crate Reviews 1 to 50 were vinyl album reviews. The following fifty reviews (51 - 100) were originally marked as CD Reviews 1 - 50 and this numbering has been kept to keep consistency with the published CD reviews.
This is number thirty three in the series of retro-reviews of Cd albums in my collection.
The series is called, “Cream of The Crate (CD’s)”, and they represent CD albums that I believe are of significant musical value, either because of their rarity, because they represent the best of a style or styles of music or because there is something unique about the group or the music.
This is a single CD and in terms of physical presentation, has little going for it, but then we look at the list of guitarists and . . . .
This single CD is simply titled “The Ultimate Guitar Survival Guide” and was released on the Relativity label in 1993. Its code is 88561 – 1161 -2.
The Cd has a total of 10 tracks ten outstanding guitarists. In some ways it is a companion to a vinyl album released in 1981 and titled Guitar Wars which is an album I will ‘retro-review” in a future “Cream if The Crate”, when I return to vinyl LP’s.
So, who are these top ten guitarists? The track listing will also show the guitarists featured, so here it is.
||Crazy|| Joe Satriani
||The Audience Is Listening|| Steve Vai
||Meltdown|| Vinnie Moore
||Turbulence|| Steve Howe
||Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers|| Jeff Beck
||Scuttle Buttin’|| Stevie Ray Vaughan
||Lone Star|| Stuart Hamm
|| Richie Kotzen
||Big Girl Blues|| Scott Henderson
||Anu|| Adrian Le
First “cab” of the rank is in fact, track # 1 – Joe Satriani with Crazy.
Satriani was born in 1956, and it is reported that upon hearing about the death of Jimi Hendrix while playing American Football, he quit and declared he was going to become a guitar player.
Well, if he played football as well as he can play guitar, then he would have become a football hero. This guy can play!
Learning jazz guitar meant that Satriani was very well versed in the technical aspects of guitar playing, but when we listen to his work we know that he has that special “spark” that the greats have.
He played with David Lee Roth in 1986, and in 1988 was invited to play with the Stones, and his career was off and running.
This what he has to say when discussing the track, Crazy. “The goal is to try and write a melody that stands on its own, without any style or social affectation. Then you’ve done something right, and lots of people will be able to enjoy it and use it for their good times and bad times.”
Joe Satriani – Crazy
I can’t go past Track #2 – Steve Vai with The Audience.
This is a very amusing track with what can only be described as some blistering guitar work.
Now the ability to play notes really fast on a guitar is not a measure of the quality of the player, but Steve Vai can play blisteringly fast and yet his pedigree is unquestionable.
You know that any guitarist who has sold over 15million albums must be doing something right.
Among the guitar cognoscenti he is spoken of in the same terms as Joe Satriani. Personally, while I believe Satriani deserves his accolades, Steve Vai appeals more to me – we all have our own tastes!
Any musician who played and toured with the late and great Frank Zappa, must not just be the best at what he does, but be able to learn to do better.
Frank was a hard task master, but what a learning environment! Like Satriani, Steve Vai also played with David Lee Roth, joined Whitesnake and recently joined the cream of Zappa’s old band, with Dweezle – Frank’s son, in a show in Paris about 12 years ago.
I love this track because apart from showcasing Steve Vai’s ability, it is a clever piece of composition.
In it, Steve plays a young boy who takes his guitar into Elementary School (Primary School for us in Oz), and has his teacher introduce him as a nice boy, only to turn that opinion on its head once he begins to play.
A great track, but what does Mr Vai have to say? In fact he says, “…in ‘The Audience Is Listening’, the woman who’s the teacher, Nancy Fagen, is actually my 8th grade teacher from high school. She was a cool lady, a Woodstock refugee type…..All my friends respected me for what I did. They thought I was weird, but they never made fun of my guitar playing. (This track) is a conglomeration of the image of what i would have liked to have done when i was a kid for my friends.”
Steve Vai – the Audience Is Listening
The third track, which is track #6 – Scuttle Buttin’.
This track chose itself because there is one undeniable thing associated with all lead guitarists, they have ego’s whose size is only matched their love of long, very long tracks featuring their solo’s.
So when we see that Stevie Ray Vaughan has contributed a track that is only one minute and forty-nine seconds long – THAT really grabbed my attention.
Sadly Stevie is no longer with us.
Born in 1954 he passed away in 1990 and should be considered as one of the most influential electric guitarists responsible for the blues revival in the 1980’s. He generally, although not exclusively, tended to favour a clean ‘dry’ guitar sound supplemented HIGH volume on his amps.
In 1984, the Blues Foundation named him Entertainer of the Year and Blues Instrumentalist of the Year, and in 1987 Performance Magazine honored him with Rhythm and Blues Act of the Year.
Earning six Grammy Awards and ten Austin Music Awards, he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2014. Rolling Stone ranked Vaughan as the twelfth greatest guitarist of all time. [Wikipedia]
Heavily influenced Clapton and Hendrix, he often also paid homage to T-Bone Walker, Buddy Guy, Howling Wolf and Albert Collins.
He had a Special affinity for Lonnie Mac. In fact he is quoted as saying, “…Lonnie Macks’ (track) The Wham was the first record I ever bought. Scuttle Buttin’ is dedicated to Lonnie mac. It’s pretty much taken off his style.”
Stevie Ray Vaughn – Scuttle Buttin’
The final track is significantly different to the others I have discussed, and is actually one of two really nice “gentle” guitar tracks.
I could have chosen Jeff Beck’s track, Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers, but I have gone with track # 10 – Anu featuring the guitar work of Adrianne Legg.
Like Beck, Legg is English and he is a very tasteful guitarist. His guitar work might be considered out of place on this album, which really is filled with “power” guitar playing. Then again, this sums up Adrianne Legg who is known for playing hybrid acoustic/electric guitars.
Born in 1948 in London’s East End, his career kicked off with him writing for music mags, like the defunct “Guitar” Mag and a range of music mags.
Then he spent 3 years in the late 70’s/early 1980’s working as a guitar technician. Not exactly the ‘arse-kicking’ start we expect from ace guitarists.
Legg’s first US release, Guitars and Other Cathedrals in 1990, pleased guitar fans. Over the years, he’s played at the Montreux Jazz Festival and toured with Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson and as part of the G3 Tour featuring Satriani, Johnson and Favored Nations founder Steve Vai.
When he recorded this track in1992, he said of his music, “Each piece has a character or an incidental something in it that produces a particular mood. Some images are dearer at sometimes than others. Somehow in the title I have to trigger myself into that subject so that I can deliver it on stage. Anu is a favorite and will be for quire a while, because its simple. I like the woman that inspired it.”
Adrianne Legge – Anu
There is little doubt that what this CD represents is the diversity of style, energy and what is described in the liner notes as, ” of (an) eloquence the guitar can speak with, when technique is guided imagination, unbridled energy and heart.”
There is little doubt the choice of tracks to describe and demonstrate each of the featured guitarists skills and style are well chosen.
It is a good album to have in your collection for those times when you want to be seduced, or ravaged, your artists guitar playing. A good album if you are looking for a variety of styles.
The album isn’t rare, isn’t hard to find and can be purchased for around $10.00.
I am kicking off with a Steve Vai track, despite featuring him in the review. This is a stunning performance.
Steve Vai – I’m The Hell Outta Here
Vinnie Moore – Meltdown
Scott Henderson – Big Girl Blues
Jeff Beck – Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers
Previous Cream of The Crate Albums:
To view/listen the first 50 vinyl album reviews just click the image below –
Click to open the following CD reviews:
#21. 2nu – Ponderous