Released: 2002, Favored Nations
This is probably the coolest cover I have ever seen. It is fully 3-D. I’m not taking wimpy 3-D like the cover of Maiden’s Rock In Rio…this cover is magnificent. Depth, clarity Vai obviously spared no expense in packaging this very cool collectible. And why not? Favored Nations is his label and he deserves to release cool things for the fans.
This release is a collection of all of Steve Vai’s work on movies from over the years and two unreleased cuts. The disc as mentioned has quite unique packaging , a hard plastic case but not a clear replaceable jewel case, so I treat mine with kid gloves. This disc seems long and has a whopping 40 tracks. Of those 40 really only about 15 are actually songs. The rest are sound-clips , under a minute in length that were written by Vai and used in various movies. Some of the clips never actually made it into he final cut of the movie but are here for your pleasure. The movies he has been a part of are Crossroads, Dudes, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (my fave) Encino Man, and PCU.
Overall we get 15 ‘real’ songs and it is a testament to Vai’s dedication to his art that makes this collection so neat; namely to have all this stuff in one place. The booklet explains everything is great detail, people he has worked with, how some songs came together and so on. Especially interesting are his comments on the movie Crossroads (not the gay one with Britney Spears, the 80’s one with the Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio) and his role in that film.
The songs are obviously written for parts of a movie so in some sense they are very different than what you might find on one of his studio CD’s but the sound and style is undeniably Vai. The unreleased tracks are great, the opener, Celluloid Heroes is almost seven minutes long and has great lyrics about movie stars and the show business.
It may seem that this review is a little ‘thin’ when it comes to describing the actual music but in this instance, with this kind of rare specialty release, either you know who Steve Vai is or you don’t. If you don’t, I would not start a Vai collection with this, but I would recommend you run out and buy PASSION AND WARFARE and go from there. For the rest of you all of Vai’s quirky tones, tempos and freaky technical guitar stuff, that I don’t have the ability to comprehend, let alone articulate, are all there full blast. As always, he is backed by great musicians, the Bissonette’s and so on, making this a really fun listen for Vai fans and folks who have seen the movies.
Anyone noticed I used the word ‘cool’ three times in the opening paragraph? That’s how cool it is! I know my grade, for what really amounts to a compilation CD, is quite generous but the combination of amazing presentation, nostalgia for the movies in question and several rare and unreleased cuts make this mandatory for Vai fans. Check out http://www.favourednations.com
And see for yourself. (Additional note: Die-hard fans can check out a recent interview with Mike Mangini, Vai’s long-time drummer in our interview section)