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Naked Tracks, Vol. 3

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Album Review

Mystery Tracks Archives, Vol. 3 is Steve Vai's third installment of his planned ten-disc rarities retrospective, this time out collecting various hard-to-find Japanese bonus tracks, compilation cuts, and otherwise unavailable promotional tracks. Included is an edited version of the notorious "Kill the Guy With the Ball," retitled here "Speeding," and like most of the other tracks that appeared on import versions of Vai's albums, it's the type of shredding that folks have come to expect from Vai. The version of "Sofa" done at the Zappa's Universe concert, long out of print, is also included here. The most interesting tracks, however, come from some of the instrument demonstration cuts done for companies like Korg and Roland. On these tracks, Vai was inspired by (and constrained by) the sounds available to the instrument he was showcasing, and it leads him down a different path than that generally represented on his albums. There's far less bombast in these understated performances, and they really give a better indication of what a well-rounded player Vai can be. "Maple Leafs," a track featuring just Vai and Mike Keneally on guitars, is another understated beauty. Don't worry. There's still plenty here that will thrill fans of Vai's über-guitar technique (just try "Opposites Attract, Pt. 2"), but there is more to Steve than that. Fans will be quite pleased to finally have these tunes all gathered together in an easy-to-find package.


Born: 06 June 1960 in Carle Place, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Six-string wizard Steve Vai, along with his onetime teacher Joe Satriani, set the standard for rock guitar virtuosity in the '80s. Born on June 6, 1960, and raised in Carle Place, New York, Vai became interested in the guitar via such legendary artists as Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and Alice Cooper as a teenager and, upon starting high school, took lessons with an older player from the school, Joe Satriani. Playing in several local bands, Vai quickly picked up on the instrument, and by the age of...
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