The Skip 5 Show #28: Steve Vai – Love Secrets
From Passion And Warfare (1990), the track flits around electronically for a bit before the guitar seems to appear as if to save the day but then just joins in the mayhem. There are explosions, rapid drum fills, synth craziness, cooing babies and other voices, tape loops, and more… One half of me was fascinated by the cacophony, the other half wondered what the fuck was going on. I cannot guess from this precisely what Vai thinks love is, or what its secret is, but if this is what he conjures up from his mind to share about it, he’s gotta be an interesting dude to date, ladies!
It’s Gratitude Day!
I was recently thrilled to receive a box of Christmas goodies from the incomparable Mike at mikelandano.com (go Follow that blog if you haven’t already! It brings the rawk!). As always, it’s too much…
Here’s a goodie that was in the box…
I don’t know from Steve Vai, except that he’s a guitar guy – and reportedly a damn good one. So, I’m gonna listen to this first, and write it up from the gut. Then I’ll go look it up and see what was what. Let’s find out what’s up with this record!
Liberty has that epic, national anthem feel to it. Erotic Nightmares brings the rock/metal and then spacey electronics, and then sound effects like dogs growling and a man screaming, and… whoa. The Animal has a satisfying funky bluesy metal swagger, Answers rips along with a vaguely 80s soundtrack feel to it (but no less impressive), and The Riddle buzzsaws dripping blues at a walking pace, with sexy talking (in French? and moaning for a bit…).
Ballerina 12/24 might seems like a bunch of high pitched noodling, but that’s the music box, baby! Did we need to listen to him breathe? Haha no. For The Love Of God is beautiful, another bluesier track but bringing quicker David Gilmour passages to mind. The Audience Is Listening is a huge rapid-fire rocker a la Van Halen Hot For Teacher. I wish they’d have left the teacher talking out of it and just let the music be enough. It really wrecked the track for me.
I Would Love To carries on the Van Halen sound, holy mackerel. great rocker tune, just ripping away and tearing the roof off. Blue Powder is a gorgeous ballad, smokin’ along while still shredding completely. Great control, and again with the playful bits of experimentation. Greasy Kid’s Stuff blasts right in your face and never relents. It’s a chunky fast rocker and bluesy as hell.
Alien Water Kiss is 1:11 of weirdo shrill space noises and silliness. Necessary? Not really, but hey. At least it’s short! Sisters is gentler, and damn beautiful – as it should be, with a title like that. It’s jazzy, playful, and clearer. I really dug this track, a higlight for me. Love Secrets is a total freakout, going out with a lightning quick blast. All the instruments just go for broke here, and it’s a corker. 3:38 of controlled mayhem! And then it all just crashes to a close. Whoa.
And over top of them all, Vai’s blistering fretwork and pyrotechnics amazes and impresses. I found the talking bits a little weird and dated, but they’re short, and they must be part of the concept of the album, so it hardly matters.
Wowzers, what a record! I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it. Like I said, I knew OF the man, but have never gone out of my way to try it out. As expected, the guitar work here is incredible. He makes it sound easy, I know it sure the hell isn’t. And the rest of the band keeps up with him, no problem. This is technical playing and compositional songwriting at its most impressive. I didn’t know I needed this album until it landed here. THANKS HEAPS MIKE!!!!
And now for what Wiki says about it:
Passion and Warfare is the second studio album by guitarist Steve Vai, released in September 1990 through Relativity and Epic Records. It has been certified Gold by the RIAA. It was written based on a series of dream sequences that Vai had when he was younger, and in the guitar music book of the album, Vai sums it up as “Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc”. It was all recorded in The Mothership studio at his home in the Hollywood Hills, a 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) building in which his guitar parts for Whitesnake’s 1989 album Slip of the Tongue were also recorded. As such, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale has small spoken parts on Passion and Warfare.
Vai states that planning the album started as early as 1982, but was shelved after joining the David Lee Roth band and not picked up again until parting ways with Roth in 1989. Vai utilized many unusual recording techniques on the album. For what would come to be one of his most popular songs to date, “For the Love of God”, he fasted for ten days and recorded the song on the fourth day of the fast. “Blue Powder” was originally recorded in 1986 as a showcase track for Carvin, using their X-100B amplifier, and given away with Guitar Player magazine in flexi disc format. Vai was introduced to Carvin by his mentor Frank Zappa, who had also used the X-100B. The drums were subsequently re-recorded for the album.
The equipment used to record Passion and Warfare was: Ibanez JEM and Universe guitars; Charvel Green Meanie guitar; Marshall JCM900 and Carvin X-100B amplifiers; ADA MP-1 preamplier; Boss DS-1 distortion pedal; Eventide H3000 harmonizer; Lexicon 480L.
The song “For the Love of God” is available for download for the 2007 video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and was voted the 29th best solo of all time by a readers’ poll in Guitar World magazine.
In 2016, Vai embarked on the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour, where he played the album in its entirety for the first time.