The meteoric and stunning rise of shred based guitarist Steve Vai was outstanding for all in the music scene. Notably, he had just finished working with Frank Zappa as a guitarist in his touring band by this time, and Steve Vai himself was ready to make his own path through the world of music. Steve Vai had built a home studio for himself in his garden shed and recorded this album there after his gig with Frank Zappa ended in 1983. Although this is often not seen as Steve Vai’s best effort, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction for him. Let’s take a listen to this album regardless, and we shall judge whether (or not) this is a good step ahead for Steve Vai as a musician.
Little Green Men begins the album with some wooshing sounds, funky guitar and bongo beats. This is quirky sounding, but from the start, this is an interesting listen. With pitched shifted vocals thrown into the mix, this is about aliens, of course. The sounds and production present on this song are excellent, despite Steve Vai admitting that many tracks on this album weren’t designed to be taken too seriously. Nonetheless, a quirky and somewhat humourous listen throughout, and there is not a dull moment present in this tune. A quirky and excellent listen about aliens, complete with a voiceover news presenter style man speaking about the fact that aliens exist. Depending on your opinion, this may be a serious subject for you or not. Regardless, this rather silly sounding song is nothing like the shred monster that Steve Vai is typically known for. Still, its nonsensical sound and nature of musical appeal are there, along with some wacky humour and strange lyrics. If you like weird music, start here. A very strange but excellent song from start to finish. Nice job Stevo.
Viv Woman begins with some nice yet restrained guitar riffing and gurgling bass guitar. This is surprisingly good, and it shows Steve Vai coming into a world of his own and being creative musically. Even for something that could be considered a lesser track, this is catchy, fun and energetic an effort and should not be skipped. A really cool and excellent tune for guitar lovers especially, this sounds really toneful and tuneful to the guitar lover’s ears, in particular. In the second half, this instrumental adds some extra sounds and sound effects, such as trumpets to continue the madness. A voice then says, “Just go for it!” and Steve Vai plays a manic guitar solo, before finishing. He is no doubt an excellent musician and guitar player, and this is Exhibit A of that. Great stuff.
Lovers Are Crazy begins with some quacky sounding 1980s style guitars and suitable riffing. Yes, this likely isn’t Steve Vai’s strongest work out there, but nonetheless is weird and humourous simultaneously. There are some interesting and peculiar vocals present in this song, and this tune is quirky to the nth degree. There are some female vocals as a backup in the chorus and this sounds really bizarre. Using various personal comparisons to famous people in a relationship with a partner of the opposite sex, this is definitely out there weird. A good piece, although very difficult to take out of musical context relatively speaking, it is music for those who like quirkiness and strange musicality as their staple. Some nice electronic keyboard sounds are present in the second half, only adding to the mix of strange sounds and attitudes. After a brief musical interlude, the singing about weird sexual activity returns and this tune concludes with some good sounds and singing, notably with a processed trumpet sound. Nice.
Salamanders In The Sun begins with some deep basslines, xylophone and a very cheesy sounding piece of music. This is obviously filler here, and Steve Vai himself would likely admit this today. Fortunately, it only goes for around two and a half minutes. It sounds somewhat like a piece out of an old 1950s movie. Soon enough, loud electric guitars enter and this piece sounds a little different. Good nonetheless, this is very enjoyable. An unusual left turn for a musical piece, the variety here keeps it going. Strange yet very Steve Vai.
The Boy Girl Song begins with some Country-esque acoustic style guitar strumming, followed by some equally Country sounding vocals. This is a simple four minute long Pop based piece that sounds very basic, yet highly enjoyable. A really cool and interesting tune all the same, there are alternations between male and female vocal sections on this piece which make it even more interesting. A very interesting and decent effort by Steve Vai and co, this goes down very well. There are processed horn sounds in the middle of the track as a solo section, before returning to a classic call-and-response section that sounds joyful, different and a little bizarre. A really nice listen, this sounds cleverly delivered and very enjoyable. Simple, but cool. A good job by Steve Vai here.
The Attitude Song comes next, and begins with some pseudo-Metal muted guitar riffing that goes down the fretboard. More guitars enter, and this clever and different piece of music emerges. A really intriguing listen with some key changes, dramatic drum rolls and other unique touches added to it, this is really an excellent tune. Sweet to hear, this is definitely impressive for an instrumental. In the second half come some amazing and unique Steve Vai guitar playing. It’s no surprise that he is often seen as one of the greatest electric guitarists of all time, Steve Vai does extremely well on this tune. A good instrumental that will make you want more, and a nicely expressive piece. Great stuff from beginning to end.
Call It Sleep begins with some Fender Stratocaster quacky in-between tones that sound very 1980s. Other sounds and textures support this piece, and this song sounds dramatic and excellent. A really cool listen, being very smooth and laidback, this is Steve Vai on chill mode. Soon enough, some screaming electric guitars enter and this piece is underway. Although many dismiss this recording, this is actually a really superb, dynamic and excellent listen throughout this part of the album. Towards the middle, Steve Vai goes super shred and sounds blazing hot on fire. It’s to little surprise that David Lee Roth asked him to play on his 1986 Eat ‘Em and Smile album, Steve Vai does a really excellent shredtastic job here. It climaxes, followed by a moment of silence, before resuming back into the slower instrumental nature of this track. There are many interesting and original sounds towards the end of this piece, including what sounds like wah-wah guitar with slide applied to it. Cool tune, even if it is throwaway. It ends nicely.
Junkie is by far the longest track on this album at over seven minutes long. It is also the worst track on the album. It begins with xylophones and guitar harmonics, and launches into a pretty awful song promoting one of the most negative and dangerous drugs out there: heroin. This song could have easily been dropped and it would have been beneficial for this album if it was done. But no. This is a rather bad statement and fortunately it can be skipped. Unfortunately this song glorifies the drug heroin and the lifestyle surrounding the addiction. Towards the middle are some truly awful guitar parts that do not match the music here, and it really sounds like a lot of rubbish. Who knows what on earth Steve Vai was thinking here? The music on this song is extremely awful. Eventually the guitar playing gets frenetic, before the second half of the song gets going. Still, one cannot help but feel as though Steve Vai himself was merely polishing a bad product. It needn’t be that way, just totally avoid this nonsense. There is a good deal of difference between interesting and just too weird, this is a product of the latter. The last section of this song has some interesting guitar parts, but the damage has been done. A forgettable and terrible piece of music, one which you never need to return to ever again. Not impressive. It ends with some random guitar parts to conclude with.
Bills Private Parts is 16 seconds long. It’s merely drums and percussion, that’s it. Nothing too special here.
Next Stop Earth is 34 seconds long, and has some rather off sounding guitar parts. Weird, and unnecessary. Only for real Steve Vai fans here.
There’s Something Dead In Here is the last song on this album. Once again, it sounds very awful, as though Steve Vai was running out of inspiration towards the end of the album. It sounds like the musical equivalent of someone trying to be intelligent when high on drugs, just a missed opportunity. This clearly does not need to be heard, and for good reason. Unfortunately although the first half of the album is great, this is a train wreck. Not even the worst of Public Image Limited is this bad, and that is not worth your time, either. A terrible instrumental pastiche with no real inspiration or meaning, this sounds pathetic. Towards the end are some weird sounding guitars that continue into a lengthy fade out. You’ll be glad when it is over.
This is definitely a mixed bag of some interesting tunes, good tunes and some downright awful tunes. However, this is where Steve Vai really began to be recognised as a professional musician. He is now a household name in the Rock scene, and his best moments were yet to come. You should only listen to the first half of this album, and then avoid the second half of the album, especially Junkie. It’s not a classic album, but it is a nice try all the same.
Very, very weird.