December 24, 2006

A Slight Butting Of Headstocks

Chris Byrne & I have a mild but perhaps noticable disagreement in regards to Vai. It really boils down to a matter of perception & I won't say that Chris is wrong or that I'm empirically right. Music can be a very subjective thing. The heart of it is that Chris opined that Vai was soulless (in his post OK, how about just the top ten rock guitarists) & I disagreed (via e-mail); Vai doesn't have the usual expressions thought of when thinking of a soulful player, but he has soul. It's just expressed in a stranger manner than most folks are used to. But to get his take on things go read his post called Satch, Nature Boy, and The Viking More importantly play the embedded vid to understand his very valid (even if in slight disagreement with my take on things) point. Course it could be that his point is Vai traded his soul to the devil & considering the way the boy plays it's not something that hasn't been pondered before. :) I couldn't agree more about Chris' take on Yngwie though. & as for Satriani - here's a vid of my favorite Satch tune Always With Me, Always With You which I think validates Chris' points about him.

Posted by Publicola at December 24, 2006 03:27 PM | TrackBack

Et tu, Publicola?

Or do I live in alternative universe?

No, no disagreement on Malmsteen, and the only Vai I've heard has been on that vid Chris linked to, and I saw/heard nothing but technical chops. But Satriani having soul? Oh lord. If he does, "Always with me ..." surely doesn't demonstrate it. It's as dry as the scene in that video. My last guitar teacher criticized "Mood for a Day" (Yes/Steve Howe) as being nothing but a bunch of classical exercises strung together. Even so, it's at least musical (to me at least). And while AWMAWY has a few melodic segments, they're inartfully blended with those at-times awkward sounding trills/runs.

Okay, have I been hard enough on Satriani yet? I might not be able spell mixolydian (or even hum it), but I think I can hear soul in a guitar piece, if it's there.

So, I just put on John Lee Hooker and Carlos Santana doing "The Healer". Might even have to resort to Roy Buchanan. Now there's some soul.

Posted by: jed at December 24, 2006 06:22 PM

Soulful is not to be confused with bluesy. lol No really Satriani is expressive, perhaps moreso than Vai (though it's arguable in spots) he just does it in a non-customary way (like Vai) so a lot of folks don't get it. which kinda defeats the purpose of music - if most of your audience doesn't grasp what you're doing then you've made an error - but Satriani can be an emotionally expressive player. There's some technical stuff in Always With You, Always with Me but if you listen to the way he plays the melody you can hear some emotion in it & around it. Satch talks. he gets wordy sometimes but he talks.

But again it's all perceptual & relative. & I don't think any of us are arguing that Satch or Vai can be more soulful/expressive than Schon or Knopfler or T-Bone Walker, just that they do have some soul/emotional expressiveness in their playing.

& Carlos - I always thought he wrote okay but was over-rated as a player - sloppy & he implied his sentiments more than stated them though he was trying to state them. Besides, isn't he known to wear a t-shirt with the Butcher of Cabana on it? :P Et tu Jed? (j/k)

Posted by: Publicola at December 24, 2006 09:29 PM

Well, in terms of 'soulful', I was just sticking to Chris's terminology, in that he seemed to be using it as a sort of catch-all term for whatever it is that comes through in performance, which is more than just technical wanking.

And yeah, I know. Lots of musicians whose music I can appreciate are the very definition of left-wing moonbattery. Kaukonen, for example. Don't know what the alternatives are -- I mean, Ted Nugent comes to mind as perhaps the polar opposite of Santana, but he's a right-wing moonbat.

I suspect that if we were to start filtering our musical collections through the sieve of politics, we'd have precious little remaining.

I'll give you this, though. In that vid that Chris referenced, Satriani and Vai were having a good time. Yngvie? He looked like "Fuck man, I AM PERFORMING!"

And remember, there is only one Beck, and his first name is Jeff. Wired Akhbar!

Posted by: jed at December 25, 2006 09:15 AM

Oh, and since I'm already showing my age a bit, what about Alvin Lee?

Plus I had to come back and suggest a possible cure for left-wing musicians -- heading of buttstocks.


Posted by: jed at December 25, 2006 09:27 AM
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