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CD Review: Steve Vai – Archives Volume 4: Various Artists

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What’s the 4-1-1?
Steve Vai hasn’t always been the guitar virtuoso solo artist that you’ve come to know and love. Throughout the years Steve has been a member of several bands and contributed his signature guitar playing to numerous other rock acts. Various Artists takes a sampling of Vai’s contributions to those other artist’s projects and puts them together on one disc for this special compilation (originally only available as part of a limited edition Vai box set).

Genre
Hard rock / metal / hair metal / rock

The Good
The album starts off with “Sweet Lady Luck;” a lost B-side from Vai’s days in Whitesnake. The song is loaded with all the over-the-top production values from that era, as well as Coverdale’s signature delivery and some fiery licks from our fret master. “The Rumble” is an eight minute instrumental that Vai contributed to a West Side Story compilation. Vai really puts his stamp on a combination of songs from this classic musical. Two tracks come courtesy of the John Lydon fronted Public Image Limited project from 1986. “Ease” is more of a trippy nod to classic 70s prog-rock, while “Home” comes off more like a combination of a new wave/hard rock mishmash. Good stuff just the same.

“Drifting” is a great ballad that was part of a symphonic Jimi Hendrix tribute. The soulful vocals come courtesy of Living Colour’s Corey Glover. “Bold as Love” comes from the same album, only this time Vai is teamed up with Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers. Vai’s twangy tones fit well with Rodger’s strong pipes. Not only did Alice Cooper tap Steve Vai to contribute to “Feed My Frankenstein,” but so did Joe Satriani. Killer riffs all around. If you read the liner notes, you’ll see this song is stacked with a who’s who of hard rock.

The Bad
There are a few songs that disrupt the flow of the album due to their diversity; “Western Vacation” is heavy in dialogue and “Queen of the Night” is more operatic. And where are the David Lee Roth songs?

The Verdict
This compilation is certainly unique. How many other artists do you know that have been able to release something like this? With Various Artists, Steve Vai shows his diversity when it comes to his outside projects, but no matter what style, artist, or presentation the project may be, there’s no question that Steve Vai is the one laying down the guitar parts.

Did You Know?
The first song Steve learned on the guitar was Alice Cooper’s “Dead Babies.”

Rating: 4 out of 5

Originally posted by author at Rock-Is-Life.com

About George Dionne

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    Vai’s work on the two songs from the Jimi Hendrix tribute album “In From the Storm” are particularily good as is the whole album.

  • http://www.vaiworld.com T Vaifan

    Hey, I love the box set! I just posted NEW photos and real audio interview at the Steve Vai Fan site.

    Let me know what you think!
    enjoy!

  • http://www.rock-is-life.com George Dionne

    I thought the box set was horrible. First off, it started years ago and it’s still half way done. Second, if you bought early (3 disc set + box), you paid more to add to it, as Vai released a 5 disc box the next year. It just seems the newer stuff that’s coming out for it is really just scraps.