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Album Review: Steve Vai – Vai/Gash

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Review by Richard Henry for MPM

I am a self-confessed massive fan of Mr. Vai so I was really looking forward to hearing this album, it was recorded way back in 1991 between the period of Passion & Warfare and before Sex & Religion which featured Devin Townsend.

However, to my ears this is somewhere between David Lee Roth era Vai and what he would do in Whitesnake! So, let’s get into the tracks!

Track 1 – In the Wind

It’s party time, this is a straight up rocker, this would not be out of place on Eat Em and Smile or Skyscraper, only dare I say with better vocals than Mr. Roth, I have to say not having heard “Johnny Gash Sombretto” before he has a voice that is very Dave Lee crossed with maybe a John Corabi, it’s a great opener to the album, really short solo from Steve on this, sort of to the point and out!

Track 2 – Busted

This is like an up-tempo Texas boogie, something that Tesla does really well, again its straight into that 80s DLR vibe, great chorus with a wall of vocals, before we break into a middle section which is like the middle part of Unchained by Van Halen, with spoken vocals going on, the solo is unmistakably Vai, but again like the track before it’s a bit less flash and a bit more grit than what Steve normally does and definitely more EVH in sound

Track 3 – Lets Jam

This is a mid-tempo rocker, great pre chorus again showcasing the vocals and an La Strip chorus on this one, this song has the first solo that I would say is Steve letting lose but again its sub 20 seconds, so far very restrained and really only playing for the song, I have vibes of Extreme on this one!

Track 4 – Woman Fever

Shuffle city, it has a really slinky blues rock vibe, not in the Joe Bonamassa sense but more like early 70s/80s Whitesnake, with a section that when you hear it will 100% make you think of Led Zeppelin, great chorus yet again, and if some played me this and didn’t tell me it was Steve Vai playing, I don’t think I would guess on this on as this is the most bluesy, I have ever heard him on a track!

Track 5 – She Saved my Life Tonight

If there was a power ballad on this album, then this would be the choice but it never ventures into the acoustic verse territory that they normally do, it’s got a big chorus and definitely would have got airplay if it had been released in the 80s, nice middle section when it breaks down and you get lovely background harmony vocals, Gash gets a chance to stretch out before Mr. Vai takes a solo, again really short and then back into that smooth chorus!

Track 6 – Danger Zone

This is the most aggressive track so far on the album and the vocals show that straight away, it kind of reminds me of like a Point of Entry Judas Priest style track, the layered vocals of the chorus and Gash wailing over the top is a cool chorus, again we have a short solo, adding to the song but not taking over from it, best track so far for me!

Track 7 – New Sensation

Again, this wouldn’t be out of place on Eat Em and Smile, both in terms of the sound of the track, but the vocal delivery and everything, the only thing that saves it is the “Lets Go” singalong chant on the chorus, think Yankee Rose, that’s what this one reminds me of, a bit of a longer solo and then out to the end with some added in crowd noise to the track

Track 8 – Flowers of Fire

Now from the start of this one, this sounds more like something that could have been on Sex & Religion, just from the orchestration at the start but the way its blended with the acoustics, lots of harmony vocals, if you have heard Rescue Me or Bury Me from Sex and Religion, in ways it reminds me of that, a solid track, I could totally hear Devin singing this one!

A short album and all in all its decent, but if you’re a Vai fan it’s not going to be the guitar fest that Dave Lee Roth or Whitesnake was, it’s a lot shorter and to the point in terms of arrangements and solos, it’s very stripped down and you’re not going to get a guitar extravaganza for sure, its 100% a product of the time it was recorded in.

Will I buy it, probably as I have everything else Steve has put out, but if I had to rate it, it would probably be a 5 out of 10.

It’s not the most exciting album I have ever heard and I think without the trademark Steve solos, it kind of falls into a generic 80s rock album in parts and I do understand it’s a tribute to Johnny “Gash” Sombretto, and I have to say his voice is great through the whole album, it’s just the songs are a bit generic for me unfortunately!

In The Wind from Vai/Gash, the new Steve Vai album which is set to be released on Jan 27th. Pre-order here: https://lnk.to/VaiGash

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