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The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1

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Album Review

Steve Vai fans are a dedicated lot, eager to hear the entirety of the guitarist's work (in that sense, he is very similar to his mentor, Frank Zappa, whose fans would buy collections of just his guitar solos). Given his fan base, Vai had the opportunity to release an album like The Elusive Light and Sound, Vol. 1 — the first installment of an archival series, capturing all the music he's written and recorded for film, television, and theater. A brilliant idea, actually, since an album like this disproves the antiquated notion that Vai's music is all technique and skill, without much regard for tone, texture, or the big picture. By isolating his soundtrack work — music that he made to accentuate a particular passage in a film — he reveals himself as both the master guitarist that he is, and his capacity to use that skill to create and enhance moods. And that's even more impressive when you realize that this is all early work, ranging from 1986's Crossroads to 1994's David Spade comedy PCU. After two opening fanfares that aren't in the movies (both featuring vocals by Vai), an elegiac cover of the Kinks' "Celluloid Heroes" sets the mood, followed by "Love Blood," a song Vai wrote with the intention of it being part of an adaptation of Interview With the Vampire, or any film starring the Vampire Lestat, but later abandoned once the project wound up with David Geffen (it might not sound too vampirey, but it's better than anything Jonathan Davis cooked up for the Queen of the Damned soundtrack). The compilation proceeds to go through every bit of music he's written for the featured films (aside from the previously mentioned pair, he also played for Dudes, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, and Encino Man). This includes brief, brief cues (some as short as 20 seconds); full pieces; and, best of all, the complete, legendary "Head Cuttin' Duel" from Crossroads, which features Vai and Ry Cooder in a shredding contest. Since this is deliberately an archival piece, it doesn't make for the easiest listening, but as an archival piece, it's first-rate. It's hard to imagine any serious Vai fan, or modern guitar aficianado, not wanting to hear this. No doubt, the next installment is eagerly awaited.

Customer Reviews

Vai Review

This album is awesome! Personally, I'm a movie score fanatic. Given that coupled with being a huge Vai fan, this album was borderline orgasmic for me! Especially the "Cuttin'-Heads Duel" and "Eugene's Trick Bag." His soft version of "Amazing Grace" was...well...amazing! Well done, Mr. Vai.

Foolish fools

You are a fool if you do not appreciate the "less than minute" songs on the album. You probably don't like "Flex Able" either. Steve Vai is a Master, much like one of his mentors, Frank Zappa. Everything he touches turns to gold.I guess I am prejudiced though, I would buy the double cd set of him bashing his guitar with a baseball bat and love every minute of it. Hero worship. Alas he is just a man, a very talented and dedicated man.

Devine Inspiration

This spectacular guitar display from the Karate Kid and Vai was an inspiration to all guitar players. Obviously Vai played both technical parts of the dual with the Devils minion. I memorized the whole thing but love the Head Cuttin Dual as a classic go to practice piece or to impress your friends. I'm just glad to have it on something other than a tape cassette recorded off the VHS (for those of you who don't know what that is, Google it) see I'm not that outdated. Vai is in a league of his own and obviously really did make a deal with the devil.


Born: June 6, 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...
Full Bio