Steve Vai

Archives, Vol. 4

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Two years on since its last issue, Steve Vai 's fourth installment of songs from the archive includes B-sides, obscure compilation tracks, and various other goodies that will appeal to fans obsessed with collecting nearly every note Vai committed to tape in his post-Zappa years. To say this is a diverse compilation would be understating just how wonderfully erratic and inconsistent the disc is. Starting off with a B-side from his tenure in Whitesnake, Vai twists and turns his way around songs from Songs of West Side Story (a collaboration with Chick Corea), Public Image, Alice Cooper, and a double-whammy tribute to Jimi Hendrix (though vocalists Corey Glover and Paul Rogers can't compare to Hendrix's original vocal performance). The true beauty in this series is that it not only shows Vai's dedication to expanding the limits of how far one instrument can be pushed, but also his versatility and comfort in a wide range of material; somehow making each composition sound distinctly like his own in the process. While this may not be the best point for any fan to begin exploring Vai's catalog, fans of the axeman will no doubt revel in this edition. Here's hoping two years won't pass before the next edition arrives.

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