The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1

Steve Vai

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The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1 Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Steve Vai fans are a dedicated lot, eager to hear the entirety of the guitarist's work (in that sense, he is very similar to his mentor, Frank Zappa, whose fans would buy collections of just his guitar solos). Given his fan base, Vai had the opportunity to release an album like The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1 -- the first installment of an archival series, capturing all the music he's written and recorded for film, television, and theater. A brilliant idea, actually, since an album like this disproves the antiquated notion that Vai's music is all technique and skill, without much regard for tone, texture, or the big picture. By isolating his soundtrack work -- music that he made to accentuate a particular passage in a film -- he reveals himself as both the master guitarist that he is, and his capacity to use that skill to create and enhance moods. And that's even more impressive when you realize that this is all early work, ranging from 1986's Crossroads to 1994's David Spade comedy PCU. After two opening fanfares that aren't in the movies (both featuring vocals by Vai), an elegiac cover of the Kinks' "Celluloid Heroes" sets the mood, followed by "Love Blood," a song Vai wrote with the intention of it being part of an adaptation of Interview With the Vampire, or any film starring the Vampire Lestat, but later abandoned once the project wound up with David Geffen (it might not sound too vampirey, but it's better than anything Jonathan Davis cooked up for the Queen of the Damned soundtrack). The compilation proceeds to go through every bit of music he's written for the featured films (aside from the previously mentioned pair, he also played for Dudes, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and Encino Man). This includes brief, brief cues (some as short as 20 seconds); full pieces; and, best of all, the complete, legendary "Head Cuttin' Duel" from Crossroads, which features Vai and Ry Cooder in a shredding contest. Since this is deliberately an archival piece, it doesn't make for the easiest listening, but as an archival piece, it's first-rate. It's hard to imagine any serious Vai fan, or modern guitar aficianado, not wanting to hear this. No doubt, the next installment is eagerly awaited.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Steve Vai 06:20 SpotifyAmazon
2 Steve Vai 04:48 SpotifyAmazon
3 Steve Vai 02:29 SpotifyAmazon
4 Steve Vai 01:07 SpotifyAmazon
5 Steve Vai 04:43 SpotifyAmazon
6 Steve Vai 02:27 SpotifyAmazon
7 Steve Vai 01:52 SpotifyAmazon
8 Steve Vai 03:15 SpotifyAmazon
9 Steve Vai 00:40 SpotifyAmazon
10 Steve Vai 03:25
11 Steve Vai 00:45 SpotifyAmazon
12 Steve Vai 00:14 SpotifyAmazon
13 Steve Vai 02:24
14 Steve Vai 00:40 SpotifyAmazon
15 Steve Vai 01:35 SpotifyAmazon
16 Steve Vai 05:46 SpotifyAmazon
17 Steve Vai 01:28 SpotifyAmazon
18 Steve Vai 03:53 SpotifyAmazon
19 Steve Vai 00:48 SpotifyAmazon
20 Steve Vai 01:07 SpotifyAmazon
21 Steve Vai 00:56 SpotifyAmazon
22 Steve Vai 01:18 SpotifyAmazon
23 Steve Vai 00:26 SpotifyAmazon
24 Steve Vai 00:39 SpotifyAmazon
25 Steve Vai 00:44 SpotifyAmazon
26 Steve Vai 00:21 SpotifyAmazon
27 Steve Vai 00:08 SpotifyAmazon
28 Steve Vai 00:28 SpotifyAmazon
29 Steve Vai 03:12 SpotifyAmazon
30 Steve Vai 00:55 SpotifyAmazon
31 Steve Vai 00:24 SpotifyAmazon
32 Steve Vai 00:44 SpotifyAmazon
33 Steve Vai 00:21 SpotifyAmazon
34 Steve Vai 00:37 SpotifyAmazon
35 Steve Vai 00:44 SpotifyAmazon
36 Steve Vai 00:19 SpotifyAmazon
37 Steve Vai 01:53 SpotifyAmazon
38 Steve Vai 00:15 SpotifyAmazon
39 Steve Vai 00:51 SpotifyAmazon
40 Steve Vai 03:47 SpotifyAmazon
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