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Live In San Francisco - Joe Satriani

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Genre: Rock / Artist: Joe Satriani / Live / Audio CD released 2001-06-19 at Sony

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      07.09.2001 07:19
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      I am so glad Joe decided to release this album, because as class as his normal albums are, it is certainly a rare treat to listen to him play live. This live performance in San Francisco is part of his Engines of Creation tour. I will probably refer back to when I saw him in Manchester last June, as it is, as far as I can remember the same set list. He has with him, as usual, his fantastic backing band, which consist of Stu Hamm on bass guitar, Eric Caudieux on keyboard and guitar, Jeff Campitelli on the drums, and Satch obviously on guitar, harmonica, and a few vocals. This a lot of people would class as an unheard line up, but believe me, for those who don’t know these musicians you could get a big surprise as they are all pretty much the best in their fields. Just beware of a killer bass solo track from Stu Hamm on the second cd ! Some people may find it strange to release a live album like this, as I suppose it’s not the norm, but in many ways this album could be classed as his greatest hits. Plus also the bonus of him performing them live, where he is most definitely at his best. One thing I was looking forward to was how he played his new Engines of Creation songs live, as I doubt it’d be the same as the cd. They are certainly as good on here as I remember them, and I reckon his live versions are just as good, if not better, than the cd versions. I am mainly talking about Devils Slide, as it is very much a studio track, but he makes it almost a new song, which is great. I must say, I am very much looking forward to watching the DVD of this, as the show was specially recorded with this in mind, so there are about ten million cameras, apparently ;-) Right then without further a do, I shall delve into the album tracks, as they are what the op is about :). This album is broken up into two cd’s, so here is the first. After the entrance of the great man, a barrage from the crowd, he bursts into Time, whic
      h is taken from his 1998 album, Crystal Planet. A very cutting three note opening riff, which is very prominent throughout, a very good starter. Very good tone variation in this, a little whammy bar lick or two before he gets into the main part of the song. The song has a general wah effect throughout. Not what would be classed as a jolly song, just very cutting and precise, a class solo, and much more whammying to come, almost a whammorama, if there is such a word :) Please excuse my grammar, but I can’t express his craziness with the locking tremolo arm any other way hehe. Very accurate to the album version, which I guess is very impressive as there are so many notes in the solos to recreate. Great bass in this song too, often while he is soloing, so unfortunately gets buried a little, but worth listening for the counter harmonies. Next up is the Engines of Creation (2000) album opening track, Devil’s Slide. As I mentioned earlier, a great, quite different rendition of this track. A pretty quick tempo to this one, with the now classic main tune played with a wah pedal, in very different style, but sounds great. Stays fairly faithful with the tune throughout, but even though the sections of the solo are pretty similar, I’m sure we can’t have a go at Satch for ‘going off on one’ a little. A lot of picking in there for the usual smooth sounding licks, but still great to vary your style from time to time. The guitar and drum crescendo’s between each section of the song, not quite as in your face as the standard track, but certainly get the effect across. Just starting to warm up now, and the third track is entitled The Crush of Love, taken from the Dreaming #11 (1988 I think) album. A fairly basic song this one, not a great deal to say really, a pretty high pitched main tune, with the wah-wah complimenting the tune nicely. Nothing too compelling, but pretty good all the same. Moving on
      to Satch Boogie, from Surfing With The Alien (1987). This is like a crazy Satriani version of a blues song. Originally, the Satch Boogies were a name given to his little blues tunes, by one of his friends. Like a lot of people he’d come up with a load of different riffs, and they got assigned different numbers of Satch Boogies, and it seemed he chose this one to develop. It is a quick song with a few distinct section, there is his speedy licks at the start, followed by a crazy solo, then goes into quite a long medium paced tapping section. Very well put arranged, and quite different from his usual. Satch now takes a quick little breather to introduce his band members, but probably just because he has cramp from playing so quickly, and needs to shake it off before the next song………. Which is Borg Sex, from Engines of Creation (2000). Another one like Devil’s slide, not the usual Satch tones, and backing for this, so very interesting to hear his rendition. He does actually get a pretty similar tone to the normal track, you just don’t quite get the ‘techno’ feel from these two tracks as on the studio versions, but some might say that isn’t a bad thing. There’s no point me dribbling on about this solo, as it is class, but something that you come to expect, so nothing too special for me this one, just another track. A good live performance, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the normal version either, so if you liked that one a lot, then you’ll love this one. I’m not even entirely sure what effect this song uses, as I’m not the effect master, and this is an opinion, not a Total Guitar magazine :) :) Finally, time for one of the old classics, both album wise, and live. Track six is Flying in a Blue Dream, from Flying in a Blue Dream (1989). The very familiar faint talking in the background, meshed in with his beautiful feedback. Some people could class it as
      just noise, but I love it. Then dives into the famous main tune, nothing breath taking, until obviously the solo, which is one of those great sounding legato Satch trademark ones, which takes you from the middle, right down to low notes, then playing nearly everything on the way up to the top, then a little tune, and of course finishing with the triplet feel lick back into the main tune again. One of my favourite Satch songs, I have heard quite a few live versions, and this certainly doesn’t disappoint, probably one of the albums better tracks. Next up is Ice 9, taken from Surfing With The Alien (1987). A little bit like The Crush of Love this one, in the sense that it is just a typical old style Satch song, with granted a fantastic solo, but nothing to really stand out that greatly, just a decent tune. Also, a little crazy harmonic whammy bar diving, which is always a bonus, hehe. Moving swiftly onto Cool #9, from his self entitled Joe Satriani (1995) album. I’m sure most people listening to this would have heard this many times before, and will notice his build up to the main part of the song seems to get longer and crazier every time, which is always good. I guess this is one of the few times Joe, and even Stu get the chance to just basically play there own things, and almost have a little jam before getting down to it. Some cheeky little licks and harmonics, combined with his famous whammy pedal go down very well. A main tune with some mild wah over it, with a general very chilled out feel to it, even when it gets heavier, it is just funky, much of this can be down to Stu Hamm’s great little bass riff’s. If you are watching the DVD, or if you’ve seen him play this live, remember to listen or watch out for the odd fast licks down the top strings, you know the ones where he’s just looking up at the crowd. All I think of when I hear the bits are him staring up with the lights reflecting of his trademar
      k sunglasses, as he effortlessly flies down the fretboard with a vast array of notes. Track nine is something called Circles, which originated from Surfing With The Alien (1987). This starts off with a really nice clean tone, with some nice delay and reverb, as the main tune this time is in the form of some very nicely arranged chords. Then bursts into a crazy solo which has no real basis, just a mad flurry of notes all over the place, but adds a good contrast to the main tune. It then goes back into the main tune, and plays a longer variation on the usual ending. Another track from Engines of Creation (2000) now, being Until we Say Goodbye. Quite different to the other two from the same album this one. Whilst still keeping the new sounding tone these songs seem to have acquired, almost a futuristic type tone, if you get what I mean. But this is different to the others in the way that it has more of the old style feel to it, more of a meaningful slower song, than an in your face type. Very nice. Track eleven is called Ceremony, from Crystal Planet (1998). Starts off with a quietish wah-wah intro, which builds up into the main tune, which is one of his familiar car driving type ones. A nice solo section, with generous use of his wah-wah pedal throughout, cramp must surely set in, in his calf muscles soon hehe :). Next, prepare to be treated to, in my opinion, one of Satch’s greatest. The track being The Extremist, taken from The Extremist (1992) album. Another class speedy driving song, this ditches the standard start of the studio version, where it plays the opening riff acoustic a couple of times first. This time, there is a few beats from Jeff, then bursts straight into the classic heavy opening riff, then moves into the main very bold energetic main tune. This song almost breaks up into two parts, the guitar bits, and the harmonica sections, almost like a duel between the two, except of course that Satch play
      s them both. It may not sound a great deal to a non guitarist, but watching him stood there playing the Extremist riff with his guitar, and also playing a harmonica tune on top of it is just breath taking. After this first harmonica section, the songs main solo comes in, which builds you up high with quick picking on the top strings, then hammers on and pulls off down the fretboard in the famous manor, then just ends up all over the place. Not a stupidly quick solo, but one with real purpose and feeling, and couldn’t suit the song any better. The rest of the song then has the main tune a bit more, and more harmonica. Almost my favourite, an absolute classic, one of the best guitar tunes you are likely to hear. Possibly only to be surpassed by the final track on cd one, which is Summer Song, taken also from The Extremist (1995). This is most definitely my favourite Satch song, and always has been, a great feel to the song, and of course fantastic guitar. Unusually for those who have heard this live before, he starts off with a snazzy little blues tune before getting into things. Maybe this has been done before, but I am new to it, and it is really good. Then down to the famous live only section where Satch extends the studio version opening harmonics, and has a little guitar exchange with Stu Hamm, which is a great way to start the song. After a few slides and the odd extra harmonic, he breaks into the very famous opening wah-splattered tune. You can tell this must be one of his favourites too, as he really starts playing with the crowd in parts. He then transcends into one of my favourite ever solo’s, very well known to the Satch faithful. Not his most breath taking ever, but one of his most tuneful, and couldn’t suit the style of the song any better, and then merges perfectly back into the main tune again. The outro is a little different to normal, as he plays a similar bit, but rather than ending, goes off on a great elabor
      ate ending, which perfectly brings the first half of the gig to an end. At this point, the listener should be diving for cd2, and that is where I shall go now :) After a little playing around, Satch moves into the first track, which is House Full of Bullets, taken from Crystal Planet (1998). This is a great example of Satch’s superb versions of a simple blues progression, I doubt he could play something easy if he tried. After a couple of bluesy sections, he breaks into one of his trademark solo’s, the very sparsely picked ones. I always find it amazing how he manages to merge so many notes together so clearly, without there being any pause. The solo is made up of a few different styles after the first part, before going back to the main tune. Next up is the very high tempo, aptly named One Big Rush, taken from Flying In a Blue Dream (1989). Just a good speedy tune this one, and being fairly high pitched throughout. Nothing really outstanding to say, good, but just plods along in a way. Track three is Raspberry Jam Delta-v, taken from Crystal Planet (1998). A great intro, which is just about all tapped with the left hand, this should definitely be on some car game :). A little subtle use of an octaver here and there. Actually I hope someone could correct me on that by the way, because I class it as an octaver, but many refer to it as a whammy pedal, but leave a comment if you can assist me, thanks. The typical Crystal Planet tone and feel is evident throughout, and this was one of my favourite when I saw him live. Uses a great variation of low and high licks. Moving swiftly on to Crystal Planet, being obviously the title track from Crystal Planet (1998). A nice piano intro, which isn’t present in the album version plays before the song starts, very contrasting to the actual song. Starts off with a great speedy high string riff, which then moves down a lower more hard hitting riff when th
      e drums come in properly. After a couple of harmonics, the main tune comes in, another futuristic toned one that captures the song mood perfectly. Then comes a great solo, where this tone he uses puts a great tinge on all the notes he plays. After playing the main tune again, once or twice he goes into some high up tapped licks, then into the outro, which is more left handed tapping, and finish the song of great, combined with the drumming. This is becoming a habit, as the next track is Love Thing, once again from Crystal Planet (1998). This is one of my favourite slower songs and really changes the mood of the gig fantastically. A slow, wah-infested moving song. Just basically a few licks played in different sections of the fretboard, and perfectly executed as expected, I am still striving to get this sound on my guitar, not achieved it yet :(. Track six is one I am so pleased to see on there, as there isn’t any Satch at all, it is a Stu Hamm bass solo. I remember coming away from the gig I saw, and apart from going on about how good Satch was, one of the things that stuck in my mind was an amazing virtuoso bass performance just before the last few songs. I searched furiously on the net, but couldn’t find anything like it. It comes in when Love Thing is ending, as the band walk of, Stu continues the song on the bass for a while, which is really nicely done. After he ends this, he breaks into the classic Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven. Sounds a little odd I know, but you just have to listen to it, this is followed by some other wonderful little tunes, some cheesy just to get the crown going. Some great slap bass chucked in just for the fun of it too, Stu Hamm I certainly salute you, a masterpiece. Then Satch announces the next song, allegedly picked by Stu Hamm, which is The Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing, from Flying In a Blue Dream (1989). No matter when Satch seems to play, he always seems to play all his son
      gs perfectly in the style of when they were recorded, so you can pretty much tell exactly what era they are from. A really well polished song that contains many interesting chords, rhythms, and notes. After the main tune, there is a little section where he plays a series of notes, tapped with his left hand, whilst muting with his right. For the life of me I’ve never been able to play this, and I stopped bothering after I was him play it live, as it looked like he was playing Come as you are, or something similar. Almost effortless. Track eight is many peoples old favourite, Always With Me, Always With You, from Surfing With The Alien (1987). Starting with a sweetly plucked intro, then into the main tune which is pretty slow, the equivalent of a love song on a guitar. For one song only, Satch uses his vocal chords on Big Bad Moon, taken from Flying In a Blue Dream (1989). A basic three chords span a fair amount of this song, and all I envisage when I see this is the music video with him creeping around with his long hair, looking quite scary, hehe. Some nice soloing in between the verses, not quite sure what he is banging on about on this song to be honest, he seems obsessed with the moon :). Definitely a big favourite with the older Satch fans. Satch then makes his blatantly fake exit from the stage, as if there wasn’t going to be a couple of extra songs in the encore. The first of these being Friends, from The Extremist (1992). Dedicated to his fans, his friends, a great good feeling song that couldn’t be more perfect to finish up a gig with. I love this track even more now I’ve experienced it live. The penultimate track is Surfing With The Alien, the title track from Surfing With The Alien (1987). Just to mix up the style with Friends, this 1987 classic certainly gets the crowd pumping one last time. Full of energy and life, a great example of his fine wizardry, with a fantastic solo to bo
      ot. After this he then has a final play with the crowd, getting them to sing back what he plays on his guitar. Track 12, the final one, which is a song written for Satch’s wife, taken from Not Of This Earth (1985), entitled Rubina. A class way to end the gig, another one of his slow moving meaningful songs. An extremely well known main tune, which breaks off into a slowish very nice solo. Just shows he doesn’t have to play amazingly well to make a amazing song. A great extended version, and one of the best slow songs. Some could class this op as a little excessive about one album, but Joe Satriani is one of the greatest musicians I have ever witnessed, and I think this no where near plays tribute to his amazing talents. This just merely gives you an incite into the gig, and my own personal views and experiences of it. I hope this tempts a few non Satch fans to go and buy this amazing album, or at least just listen to it. Enjoyable for all true musicians, and a guitarists dream, will forever stand tall in my cd collections :) If you did get this far without getting bored, I hope you enjoyed the op, and found my views useful, ‘Until we say Goodbye’ ………..

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Time
      2 Devil's Slide
      3 Crush of Love
      4 Satch Boogie
      5 Borg Sex
      6 Flying in a Blue Dream
      7 Ice 9
      8 Cool # 9
      9 Circles
      10 Until We Say Goodbye
      11 Ceremony
      12 Extremist
      13 Summer Song

      Disc #2 Tracklisting
      1 House Full of Bullets
      2 One Big Rush
      3 Raspberry Jam Delta-V
      4 Crystal Planet
      5 Love Things
      6 Bass Solo
      7 Mystical Potato Head Groove Thing
      8 Always With Me, Always With You
      9 Big Bad Moon
      10 Friends
      11 Surfing With the Alien
      12 Rubina