Both the Marino and Cuniberti masters are superior to the original Grundman version and fans of this record really should have one of them. The leap in quality from the original pressing to these subsequent releases is a quantum improvement. Careful listeners will find Cuniberti's master is an upgrade over Marino's but only by a step rather than a leap.
When all the studio sorcery and after-the-fact tinkering has been done, 10 songs and 38 minutes of the most amazing guitar-based instrumental music remain. For all that has been written about his extraordinary gifts as a player, his concept of melody has gone underappreciated. What separates Satriani from virtually every other guitarist is that he is a capable composer, that his songs are more than a collection of licks and solos.
He would progress as a player, composer and compose great pieces of music over the next 20 years, but he has yet to craft a collection of songs that feel this interconnected.
This is the real treat for diehard fans who have already purchased one or two copies of the album. The bonus DVD is comprised of three parts: a spoof interview with Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel, music videos for "Always With Me, Always With You," and a previously unreleased live set from the Montreux Jazz Festival. The Tufnel interview is amusing, but most viewers won't watch it more than once. The videos are not vital visual experiences but belong on a package like this that strives to be the ultimate expression of what the album was about.
The Montreux performance captures a set he, drummer Jonathan Mover, and bassist Stu Hamm played at the famed festival on July 15, 1988. The hour-long set is not a blazing performance, but the story behind it – retold hilariously in the liner notes – probably explains why there are occasional lacks in precision by the band.
The set mixes a few songs from Not of This Earth as well as Surfing. Both Hamm and Mover are given brief solos. I never get tired of hearing Stu Hamm play Beethoven on the bass, nor do I tire of marveling at the two-hand technique that produces it even if it is a little disheartening to see he's been playing more or less the same bass solo for all these years.