Joe Satriani: Prime Cuts
Surfing through a decade of extraordinary guitar achievements with Joe Satriani: guitardom’s resident alien discusses some of his most shred-tastic tracks.
Since first arriving onto the guitar scene a decade ago, Joe Satriani has continually proven to be a master of fleet-fingered, high-tech shred. With albums like Surfing With The Alien, Flying In A Blue Dream, The Extremist and Time Machine, Satch and his axe boldly surfed where few have dared and even fewer survived. So, where does a guy who’s been nearly everywhere with his trusty six-shooter go next?
That’s exactly where we find Satriani on his latest offering, Joe Satriani. On it, Satch pays homage to the musicians he grew up listening to. Visions of the raw, screaming electric blues of Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page permeate the album, which some have called Satriani’s Blow By Blow. Produced by veteran helmsman Glyn Johns [Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who], Joe Satriani abandons the guitarist's trademark overdubbed, highly produced guitar attack in favor of a more honest, jammy, live feel that’s fully entrenched in the magical vibe of the late Sixties/early Seventies. The result is an album that sparkles with some of the most soulful and moving guitar playing of Satch’s career.
“Glyn wanted some real interaction,” says Satriani. “He didn't want people just looking at their chord charts or anything like that. He wanted some real musical shit to happen. He made us play the song then and there, in the moment, and that was it. Manu [Katche, drummer] wasn't going to be looped and triggered. And Andy [Fairweather Low, rhythm guitarist] wasn’t going to overdub his rhythm parts three weeks later. Everyone was asked to come up with the coolest part today, play it, and thank you very much—we’re doing another song tomorrow.”
Satriani admits that the recording process, while ultimately rewarding, did take its toll. “We were all sort of tingly and sometimes I’d have a headache by the end of the day. We’d be wasted from all that intensity.”
We recently caught up with Satch to get his thoughts and reflections on some of the finer moments in his repertoire, including signature tracks, oddities and a couple of inspired tracks from his latest guitar opus.
NOT OF THIS EARTH Not Of This Earth (Relativity, 1986)
“Not Of This Earth” was actually a joke. When I was in high school, I was in a band that only did Beatles covers. I was in it as a joke, as an aside to my serious band, which was probably even more of a joke. After rehearsals, we’d sit around the drummer’s kitchen and watch TV, which was usually tuned to one of those crummy local movie channels. They always showed the film Not Of This Earth—one of the worst science-fiction films ever made. We had the dialogue memorized and we’d act it out. When I was working on the record it came to my head that it would be really funny if one day these old friends were in a record store and saw this thing called Not Of This Earth. That was about as deep as it went.