On Aug 7, 2007, Epic/Legacy Recordings will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Joe Satriani’s groundbreaking album Surfing with the Alien with a new expanded edition. This meticulously restored two-disc set includes the newly remastered album and a previously never-before-seen live show filmed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1988. It will also feature new liner notes written by Joe and special deluxe packaging featuring photos, notes and other memorabilia from Joe’s personal archive.
Surfing with the Alien was the album that ignited Joe Satriani’s career as a solo performer. The acclaimed guitarist’s second full-length release, Surfing with the Alien was originally issued in October 1987 on Relativity Records. It became a left-field bestseller that reached No. 29 on the Billboard Top 200 and was certified Platinum for U.S. sales of over one million copies. It was the first rock guitar instrumental album to reach Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart. It includes the charting hits “Satch Boogie” and “Surfing with the Alien,” plus the Grammy-nominated “Always with Me, Always with You.”
The album launched Satriani on an ever-evolving creative path: 18 further audio and video releases (nine of them certified Gold and/or Platinum) totaling over 10 million albums sold worldwide, 14 Grammy Award nominations, and multiple world tours both as a headliner and as founder of the all-star G3 guitar extravaganza.
Disc One: The Album
This portion of the 20th Anniversary edition of Surfing with the Alien contains the original 10-track album, newly remastered by Joe Satriani and original album co-producer John Cuniberti, at the Plant Studios in Sausalito, California. The 10 songs were written and arranged by Joe Satriani, who played guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion and drum programming on the original sessions.
“From 1979 through 1984,” Satriani recounts, “I was in a band called the Squares with John Cuniberti, who was our live engineer and also did our demos, and Jeff Campitelli on drums. I self-released my first EP (Joe Satriani) and then worked with John and Jeff on my first full-length album, Not of This Earth. Relativity released that recording in December 1986 and after I played some new songs at a New York showcase in January ’87, the label gave me the go-ahead to make Surfing with the Alien.
“Through 1987, I was dividing my time between teaching guitar, playing sessions and working on my own tracks. We were so broke when we recorded Surfing that there are no photos from the sessions—we wouldn’t spend money on pictures if we could rent a cool piece of gear instead! We really thought it would be the last album that anyone would let us make.”
Following the release of Surfing with the Alien in October 1987, Relativity execs urged Satriani to mount a tour as the leader of his own band. Despite his misgivings (“I’d never done that—I’d always been in rock bands with singers”), Joe assembled a trio and did two weeks of dates on the East Coast and around Southern California in January 1988.
Before his own shows had concluded, Joe was recruited for a Mick Jagger solo tour in support of the lone Stone’s Primitive Cool album. For the guitarist, it proved a valuable learning experience: “That tour kind of rescued me. I learned how to perform from Mick, when and when not to go over the top.” In the summer of 1988, a newly confident Satriani joined forces with bassist Stu Hamm and drummer Jonathan Mover for his maiden voyage to the UK and Europe.
Disc 2: The Live DVD
The second disc of the 20th Anniversary edition of Surfing with the Alien features a never-before-seen live show that captures Joe Satriani performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 14, 1988 during the bombastic Surfing with the Alien tour. Expertly backed by Hamm and Mover, Joe tears through “Ice 9,” “Satch Boogie” and “Circles” (among other favorites from Surfing) along with tunes like “Hordes of Locusts” and “Rubina” from Not of This Earth.
“It was my first trip to Europe and the first of our four shows overseas,” Satriani recalls. “I was supposed to arrive at Montreux in time for soundcheck and play at midnight on July 14. We had a direct flight from London to Switzerland.
“Because of something to do with Bastille Day, our flight was grounded in Lyon, France—so my manager and I got off the plane, rented a car and drove six or seven hours to Montreux. We missed the soundcheck. Fortunately, Carlos Santana and Milton Nascimento preceded our set and they would not get off the stage.
“It was 4:15 a.m. when we finally hit. We led off with ‘Ice 9’ and after the first eight bars, most people got up and left! I think it was just a little too over the top for that time of the morning, and they made us play a shortened set. When it was over, we went across the street to the hotel, took a shower, and got into the car for an 8:00 a.m. flight back to London to play two gigs.”
“This show isn’t anything like what you’d see me play today. But it’s a personal historical document and I’ve learned to appreciate the raw energy of it. The set was mixed live—now we’ve expanded the sonic quality and tried to make the performance come off as powerfully on DVD as it did for us onstage that night.”
CD – Disc 1 (remastered)
01. Surfing with the Alien
02. Ice 9
03. Crushing Day
04. Always With Me, Always With You
05. Satch Boogie
06. Hill of the Skull
08. Lords of Karma
DVD – Disc 2 – Live at Montreux
01. Ice 9
06. Lords of Karma
09. Hordes of Locusts
10. Always With Me, Always With You
11. Satch Boogie
Joe Satriani – guitar
Stu Hamm – bass
Jonathan Mover – drums
Recorded July 14, 1988 at the Montreux Jazz Festival