Is there a better instrumental rock guitar record than P&W?

Discussion in 'The Sound Hound Lounge' started by T Dizz, Feb 12, 2020.

  1. Machew

    Machew Member

    Dec 30, 2018
    1. Flying in a Blue Dream
    2. Guitar Shop
    3. P&W
    4. Surfing
    5. Engines of Creation

    Subject to change, of course, but this is what comes to mind of some of the albums I have listened to the most.
    stratohiker likes this.
  2. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Dec 29, 2009
  3. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    or perhaps something with a little feel:
    FiestaRed, T Dizz and Laurence like this.
  4. riker4208

    riker4208 Member

    Jan 31, 2007
    ditto. I need to listen to this album. I've never really taken Steve Vai seriously in any context other than just consummate virtuoso

    T Dizz likes this.
  5. Release

    Release Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Northern Virginia
    Satriani's Flying in a Blue Dream is the pinnacle for me. P&W is up there too though.
    Sacrifice and T Dizz like this.
  6. Imem

    Imem Member

    May 22, 2013
    Alien Love Secret's is my favorite Vai record, P&W is close for sure, just something about the rawness (for Vai) of ALS is more appealing.
    abracadabra likes this.
  7. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Ronnie Earl has a string of great instrumental blues albums, if that counts. 'Blues Guitar Virtuoso Live in Europe' is a personal favorite, and would certainly be near the top of my list.
    GenoVox, Jimi1983, RhytmEarl and 2 others like this.
  8. BriSol

    BriSol Member

    May 30, 2017
    Cleveland, OH
    Listening to this album again since I saw the thread. Vai sometimes has moments of brilliance in his compositions that pretty much are him apeing his hero/mentor Zappa. But the other side of him is more 80's rock and post-EVH shred guitar. These things don't always blend well.

    Liberty sounds like a thematic, triumpthant sounding, Bill and Ted type of thing. Pretty nice melody really, though a bit cliche, almost reminds me of the theme from Wonder Years. Pretty neo-classical 80's hard rock sounding otherwise. Not entirely to my taste but it's a good short composition.

    Erotic Nightmares starts off more like a pretty straight forward 80's rock tune. The composition isn't as strong on this one. Aside from the relatively straight forward rock riffage, the whole tune is basically a long written guitar solo with a bunch of punch-ins over a series of riff changes. There is a little bit of a melodic bridge though and a little Zappa-esq interlude toward the end, somewhat schizophrenically conflicting with the mood of the rest of the tune. The soloing itself definitely establishes his guitar fire on the album more strongly than the intro tune. But it's a weaker composition.

    The Animal starts off as a sort of "groovy", somewhat generic hard rock riff hook tune. Basically a dorian vamp with him soloing on and off. Im a little less impressed with his playing on this track and it's not a strong composition for me.

    Answers is a bit of a Zappa influenced tune. Kind of zany vibe, lots of use of staccato and repeated notes. It plays off of pet lydian and mixolydian themes that are relatively Zappa-esq. The composition is a bit stronger on this one.

    The Riddle continues with the lydian vibes, though a little more with a straight forward rock groove at points. There's a lot of creative stuff going on with effects and overdubs in the middle and end of the tune.

    Ballerina 12/14 continues in the Zappa and prog influenced vein, with sort of over the top sounds being used. It's somewhat of a throwaway/filler track, though creative. No guitar stuff going on here. Some interesting ideas though the track seems like a random short interlude track.

    For The Love of God is pretty much treated as the "hit" ballad of this album, though not necessarily my favorite. It establishes his unique voice as a soloist pretty well. It's melodic. Pretty straight forward slow groove.

    The Audience Is Listening is sort of a fun-vibe track back to a more straight forward hard rock vibe. It's basically a double time or fast shuffle groove track with some soloing. Not much going on here otherwise.

    I Would Love To pretty much sounds like generic 80's rock and more like a Satriani track. The composition is stronger than on the last track. The style of the track is a bit too 80's cheese rock for me.

    Blue Powder is a sort of ballad track that I think is stronger than For The Love of God. It has some neo-classical aspects and some interesting guitar harmony arrangements. It somewhat falls into the vein of the track being a big guitar solo but with more changing parts.

    There are more tracks but you get the drift.

    What most of these tracks have in common, that I don't always like, is that the composition is almost entirely focused on the distorted guitar parts, while rythm section parts and harmony tends to be bland, except for short spurts of Zappa-esq arrangements. Sometimes he has tracks that seem more broadly compositionally focused and I tend to like those a bit more. I also just don't like his tone much anymore and I think he's better at writing solos than improvising. This particular type of instrumental rock is mainly about writing from a lead guitar emphasis, for better or worse.

    Other approaches and types of instrumental music are more like one where lead guitar is mainly an improvised part within the composition, but not the composition itself. I tend to like that approach a little more.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
    freedom's door likes this.
  9. harmonicator

    harmonicator Member

    Nov 14, 2008
    Central CA
    Some pretty stellar playing and compositions on this one
    Dominik, shallbe, Jimi1983 and 7 others like this.
  10. gtrdave

    gtrdave Member

    Jan 18, 2012
    The Small Wonder
    I think Not of This Earth is still my favorite JS record and it was massively influential to me, as was Blow By Blow.

    Flex-able is a real treat, too.
    freedom's door, MBreinin and Dominik like this.
  11. NorCal_Val

    NorCal_Val Member

    Sep 23, 2010
    Woodpile, CA
    My top 5 would be(in no order);
    There & Back
    Passion And Warfare
    Guitar Shop
    Surfing With The Alien
    Maximum Security
    freedom's door likes this.
  12. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    I loved Danny‘a playing and was lucky to see him twice in a bar in DC, playing Thelonius Monk tunes.
    I’m guessing Vai may have never heard of Lenny Breau.
  13. iamdavea

    iamdavea Silver Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2008
    Bay Area, CA.
    Top 10, in no particular order:

    Introspection; Greg Howe
    Uncertain Terms; Greg Howe
    Parallax; Greg Howe
    Electric Joy; Richie Kotzen
    Debut; Michael Lee Firkins
    Chasing the Sun; Chris Poland
    Self-Titled; Borislav Mitic
    Perpetual Burn; Jason Becker
    Meltdown; Vinnie Moore
    Dios Eol; Alejandro Silva
    bdonnelly and freedom's door like this.
  14. Sam Hill

    Sam Hill Member

    Dec 26, 2014
    Danny Gatton always said that Lenny Breau was the "best," but Steve's thinking seemed to be that Gatton was so highly skilled at so many styles of playing that he was kind of a one-off, and we may never see his like again.
    stratohiker and MBreinin like this.
  15. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    Johnny A’s first solo album....on Vai’s Favored Nations label is right up there with me.
  16. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    The first recordings, live cassettes, I heard of Danny in 1975, completely blew my mind. He was going from rockabilly to Miles Davis Milestones and slaying it!
    stratohiker and Sam Hill like this.
  17. Dominik

    Dominik Member

    Oct 30, 2019
    Mine too. The three albums that followed — especially The Extremist — were all more polished but there's something about that mid 80s chorus sound and the way he's experimenting with ideas that takes me somewhere special. I always imagined him writing those songs late at night. Not to mention the story of how he financed it with a credit card he got in the mail when he was broke.

    His solo in New Day is one of my favorites.

  18. Serious Poo

    Serious Poo Powered by Coffee Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    Finding beauty in the dissonance
    My top 5:

    The Master and the Musician - Phil Keaggy
    Aerial Boundaries - Michael Hedges
    Handmade Cities - Plini
    Passion and Warfare - Steve Vai
    Ah Via Musicom - Eric Johnson
    Jimi1983 likes this.
  19. Splinterhead

    Splinterhead Member

    Jan 19, 2013
    Some of my favorites:
    Parallax - Greg Howe
    Hard Hat Area - Allan Holdsworth...I know its more fusion but there's some rock in there.:cool:
    Moonbabies - Planet X (Tony Mac)
    Dark Matter - Brett Garsed
    FuzzyAce likes this.
  20. Stinky Kitty

    Stinky Kitty Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2006
    For me, these two instrumental albums are in weekly rotation and continue to be after all these years. Love all the others mentioned too.

    another gem
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020

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