JOE SATRIANI - CD 

SHAPESHIFTING

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

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NICK MASON - CD + DVD

LIVE AT THE ROUNDHOUSE

Sony Music Japan - 18th April

While we have all been watching Roger Waters’ magnificent mega-productions and David Gilmour’s marvelous renditions of the familiar Pink Floyd catalogue and his solo material, Nick Mason has been quiet but in 2018 he put together a band to play the neglected pre-Dark Side Of The Moon material. Going back to his roots, the band played small, low-key gigs in pubs to – in his words – “capture the spirit” of the era. This is the first release by the band; it’s live, at a classic London venue and although they haven’t gone right back to their roots (on the video there is an updated light show rather than some coloured lights and a stroboscope) it is, in essence, a band, in a venue and how it was in the late 1960’s.

 

First off, top marks to everyone on the performance especially the man himself. He pounds his way through parts and delicately adds cymbals through this recording with aplomb and I’ve never heard Nick play better. One of the great things about this album actually is your sudden realization of just how good Nick is and how important he was to Pink Floyd and the band Nick has chosen to perform these classics have the same dedication to the music he does. It would have been easy for Nick to call a few superstar friends to do this but he hasn’t, instead calling on highly competent musicians who can perform this music with the respect it deserves and as such, this recording is an essential addition to any Floyd fan’s collection.

 

Aside from the songs, there is so much to love on this album from the stereo panning of the instruments which roll around your headphones to the vocals which somehow seem to be right out of the late 1960’s themselves. The guitar and bass work is sublime; the organ an absolute blast with that lovely vintage sound – Nick has got this spot on, 100% right. It’s also wonderful to hear these songs played live without having heard any transitional variations for literally, decades. We have jumped straight from the 1960’s to the 2020’s without any morphing or changes in the arrangements for the majority of the songs so they sound fresh and alive, more so than on many of the actual recordings.

 

This is a terrific piece of work by all involved including Sony who has mastered the Japanese edition with BSCD2 specification for extra dynamics and has a poster and Japanese booklet. Quite where the band can go from here may be limited to the songs from that era they didn’t perform this time around but no matter, for now, this will do very nicely indeed and it is a fitting tribute to a catalogue of music long unheard in its proper context. Vol 2 when you are ready please Mr. Mason!

 

Disc 1

  1. Intersteller Overdrive

  2. Astronomy Domain

  3. Lucifer Sam

  4. Fearless

  5. Obscured By Clouds

  6. When You’re In

  7. Remember A Day

  8. Arnold Layne

  9. Vegetable Man

  10.  If

  11.  Atom Heart Mother

  12.  If (reprise)

  13.  The Nile Song

Disc 2

  1. Green Is The Colour

  2. Let There Be More Light

  3. Childhood’s End

  4. Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun

  5. See Emily Play

  6. Bike

  7. One Of These Days

  8. A Saucerful Of Secrets

  9. Point Me AT The Sky