Steve Vai – Vai/Gash Review
Steve Vai – Vai/Gash Review
Steve Vai is an American guitarist and composer known for his self-composed, performed, and produced instrumental guitar music. Still, he has also played on the recordings of several other rock acts, including Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth, and British rock legends Whitesnake. Vai’s music has been included in a number of feature films, including Dudes, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and Ghosts of Mars. He appeared onscreen in the 1986 Ralph Macchio vehicle Crossroads, playing the demonically inspired Jack Butler. In addition, Vai owns ‘Favored Nations,’ a recording and publishing business specializing in looking after both newly discovered and already high-profile recording artists worldwide.
Vai/Gash is a collaboration album of Steve Vai and Johnny “Gash” Sombretto, recorded in the 90s. The two motorcycle enthusiasts met after Vai immersed himself in the biker culture. Gash was an avid motorcycle enthusiast severely scarred after an accident at 21. Vai and Gash hit it off immediately, and soon hit the studio and had an album worth of material in no time. However, In September 1998, Gash was in a bike accident and killed. Disheartened, Vai put the entire project on a shelf and moved on to other projects, but now, after three decades, Vai is releasing the album as a tribute to what would definitely have been one of the greatest lead rock singers.
“In The Wind” opens with a crunchy chordal riff from Vai. The verse brings Gash’s strong, robust, gritty vocals to the spotlight. His tone is undoubtedly attention-grabbing. The songwriting is classic 80s rock. Wow, I miss the era when people could sing, play, and write. Today’s music, well, not so much. Gash’s vocal fills and ornaments to the melody are all outstanding. Vai’s solo is melodic and structured in an excellent classic 80s manner. The song is powerful, musical, and has a strong emotional tone.
“Busted” continues the carefree open road sounds of the album. With a template of “Radar Love,” “Busted” is a bluesy rock selection, not heard often in Vai’s playing, that showcases an attitudinal melody from Gash. The bridge is typical Vai, with strange sounds, etc., but the guitar riff leading to the guitar solo saves the day. Vai digs into his strings resulting in squealing artificial harmonics that build the energy.
Vai/Gash is Vai and Gash communicating the grace, energy, and talent found in great rock and roll. The music comes across as authentic, and Vai’s playing, mixing, mastering, and producing of the project are all excellent. Vai sums it up best, “He (Gash) would have absolutely been the greatest rock lead singer you would ever want to know. All the elements were in place, but he was gone. Disheartened, I put the entire project on the shelf, and would listen to it at least once a year for the past 30 years, especially around the anniversary of his passing. Then recently, something compelled me to want to put it out now. I wish you would have had a chance to get to know John. I believe you would have loved him just as we all did. For now, he is ‘in the wind.'”
January 20, 2023