Sony Music Japan - 8th April

It takes a master of their instrument in the Rock world to sustain interest over a long time when releasing instrumental albums. Joe Satriani is undoubtedly one of those masters and Shapeshifting is just as good as his debut, Not Of This Earth, which made the world sit up and listen way back in 1986. This, his seventeenth studio album, is the latest in that long run of consistently good releases.


There are certain things you expect from a Joe Satriani and all the ingredients are here. Variety, original compositions, fun bits, quirky moments and of course the sublime guitar playing by the man himself. As well as that, this time we have a core band of drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), bassist Chris Cheney (Jane's Addiction) and keyboard player Eric Codue. Throw into the mix producerJim Scott who worked with Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and you have quite a collaboration of seasoned contributors. Joe has taken advantage of all this input and come up with yet another, very enjoyable, never-gets-boring, release.


Usually when I review a new album, I put it on and play it from track 1 right through but this time I couldn’t resist jumping to a couple of songs as the titles were too tempting. Track 4 was all I had hoped for and very descriptive of the piece as was track 7 which goes right back to his days with Squares, the band he had forty years ago. Having listened to those two and hoping that I hadn’t jumped straight into the best two tracks by accident, I then went to the start and played the album in full. Thankfully, my fears proved unfounded as my stereo system rolled out a volume of instrumentals, each one as good as the previous and next. Sprinkled throughout are moments of sheer joy and emotion and as we have seen before on countless occasions, Joe knows when to let rip or hold back appropriately for the piece. This is what makes his albums so listenable; he has no ego, only a sense of pride in what he puts out.


Joe has come a long way since his days with Squares. He is one of the world’s greatest Rock guitarists, recognized by his peers and celebrated by the elite. He has however never lost sight of what drove him originally and as a result, he is still at the top of his game as this album shows. Tracks such as Waiting, All My Friends Are Here and Here The Blue River have so much emotion and atmosphere in them there really is no one else to equal him on the guitar. Others may be faster, some may be more popular, but none are the combination of everything that make consummate musician that Joe is.


Track List

1. Shapeshifting

2. Big Distortion

3. All For Love

4. Ali Farka, Dick Dale, An Alien And Me

5. Teardrops

6. Perfect Dust

7. Nineteen Eighty

8. All My Friends Are Here

9. Spirits, Ghosts And Outlaws

10. Falling Stars

11. Waiting

12. Here The Blue River

13. Yesterday’s Yesterday




Limited Showing

I have in my time seen a few hundred officially filmed Rock concerts and over the years through advances in technology and lighting, they have improved dramatically. Most modern ones are well recorded visually and sonically with multiple cameras that capture the atmosphere and surround sound mixes that help to envelope you and make you feel like you were there but Roger Waters has taken the medium to another level; this is no ordinary film of a Rock concert. It is a gig, a show, Roger’s songs married to his message - a political statement - that will have you at times in awe and tears.


This production never came to Japan (but let’s not give up hope yet) and not being one to watch audience shot smartphone footage on YouTube, went into it with no idea or expectations at all and I hope you can experience it the same way. Lavishly shot and with crystal clear sound, the music envelopes you while you sit transfixed to the screen watching the most original production you could imagine. Musically, every one of the musicians is on the top of their game and Roger himself is a picture of pure concentration. He really wants to get his message across and he succeeds but he’s also enjoying it, reveling in the opportunity perform his music and present it in a way that will make people think. Don’t be put off by that though; yes it is political but he has achieved the right balance between the message and the music. It’s well known that he’s anti-Donald Trump and sure enough, when he does Pigs (Three Different Ones), Trump gets a battering but Roger doesn’t label the point; he knows that would be a step too far for even the most ardent fans. Over and above everything else going on, it’s the music that matters the most and the film in glorious 4K definition adds to it.


So the visuals are stunning, the music is of course brilliant, what else is there left to say except go and watch it! The film has a limited initial run in Japan at selected theatres (see below) so see it while you can. Oh and don’t leave while the end credits are rolling either as there is a 15 minute documentary of the rehearsals!


Songs performed:

Speak to Me

One of These Days
Time/Breathe (Reprise)
The Great Gig in the Sky
Welcome to the Machine
Déjà Vu
The Last Refuge
Picture That
Wish You Were Here
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2
Pigs (Three Different Ones)
Us and Them
Brain Damage

The Last Refuge Reprise