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What We Know About Steve Vai's 'Modern Primitive': The Missing Link Between 'Flex-Able' and 'Passion and Warfare'

Last year marked the 25th anniversary of Steve Vai's Passion and Warfare.

The now-classic album, which took several years to record, features "For the Love of God," "Liberty," "Erotic Nightmares," "The Animal," "Blue Powder," "The Riddle" and several other legendary Vai tracks.

To commemorate the release, Vai and Sony Records will issue a 25th-anniversary edition of Passion and Warfare that includes an entire bonus album, which Vai calls "the missing link between Flex-Able and Passion and Warfare."

"What I’m working right now as we speak is the 25th anniversary release of Passion and Warfare,"Vai told

"I’m [including] an extra CD with material that’s never been released. It’s music the I’ve either recorded or written in between Flex-Able and Passion and Warfare. If you’re familiar with Flex-Able, it’s a very strange record: I recorded it when I was 20. And if you listen to Passion and Warfare, it seems [like] a completely different guy. So what happened in between? Where’s the missing link?"

Vai says there was a lot of music that was tracked but never finished, and a lot of material that was written but not recorded between the two albums. According to Vai's November 2015 newsletter, the soon-to-be-released music sounds like the "cro-magnon missing link" between the two albums.

The bonus album has a name—Modern Primitive. The disc, which was recorded and/or written between 1984 and 1990, features music that ranges from intense to delicate melodic chasms to some truly bizarre masterpieces. Vai is actually recording additional guitar parts and breathing 25 years' worth of recording advances and musicality into the songs.

"Seven to eight songs are already tracked, and they just need a couple of finishing touches," Vai added. "Then I’m gonna have the old band get together that I had back then, just to lay down some other tracks we used to perform in that period. So it’s new music and frankly it’s turning out to be one of my favorite records."

So, to wrap up ... the new package will include a newly mastered Passion and Warfare, a DVD of snippets of videos in the studio while recording PAW, interview footage from the period and the promotional videos that were released for PAW. It also will include Modern Primitive.

Look for this release in mid-2016—and watch out for Vai on the Generation Axe Tour, which kicks off in April.

Stay tuned for more info! While you're at it, check out this new Vai interview from the 2016 Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim. Vai was interviewed by Boss/Roland's Gary Leniare; Vai talks gear, music, plans and more.

Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.