JOE SATRIANI - "CRYSTAL PLANET" (SONY)
It's been a while since we last heard of guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani. In 1994 he released the rather jammy, 60s-influenced "Joe Satriani", which I personally didn't think too much of. And quite a few fans with me, so I've heard (which didn't prevent his Dutch part of the tour to use the 10,000-capacity Ahoy hall in Rotterdam, beats me why, for Satriani is best heard in an intimate concert venue). True fans had to make due with the "G3" CD (with Eric Johnson and Steve Vai) that was released in 1997, as well as the "Merry Axemas" CD that was released for Christmas of that year.
The new Joe Satriani album, "Crystal Planet", is, thankfully, a CD filled with classically brilliant and uniquely innovative Satriani. No more jammy songs but good tracks with a high "what the f@*k is he doing there?!" factor. Some of the songs are just beautiful, some of them are technically advanced, but most importantly they do not bore you for a second. "Up in the Sky", "House of Bullets", "Trundrumbalind", "With Jupiter in Mind" and "Piece of Liquid" are true little diamonds in the rough, but the other songs - making a grand total of 15 - are not exactly bad either. Stuart Hamm plays most of the bass, which of course is merely added icing on the cake.
After his previous CD, "Crystal Planet" is nicely back to the roots, but without performing any repetitive exercises. My inferiority complex as a budding guitarist, at any rate, has been drastically increased (dammit!).
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Written March 1998
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