Become the featured session guitarist on six classic Steve Vai tracks, transcribed and arranged exclusively by Guitarists for Guitarists. Includes full song transcriptions and notes and analyses of the solos, and special practise tracks on the CD, with slowed down versions of the solos, in demonstration and play-along formats.
I was very sceptical about the "In Session with Steve Vai" package and I only bought it as I had money burning a hole in my pocket (a rare and strange sensation!). The reason why I bought it was because of the backing tracks, in particular "For The Love of God" and "Juice". I already had the transcriptions of the songs, but it is one thing playing over the actual CD and another actually playing solo lead guitar track! You suddenly realise that maybe you didn't quite have it as flawless as you first thought. Also, I was hoping to use the backing tracks in my band when we gig. So I was sceptical of everything, from the transcription to the guitar work to the backing tracks.
I am happy to say that my fears were unfounded. The "In Session" package was extremely thorough and the transcriptions were deadly accurate.
You get 4 tracks per song:
1) The full track - a faithful representation of what is on record.
2) The full track minus lead guitar.
3) The entire main solo at half speed.
4) The entire backing track to the main solo - at half speed.
You even get little pointers for certain sections of the song. This was nice and never came across as patronising. I didn't think the guitarist got a particularly good Vai tone, which was a bit of a disappointment but this was more than made up for with his sheer musicianship and accomplishment.
Not only could he play technically demanding pieces but he played them note for note. Note for note I tell you! Vai's playing isn't exactly straight forward - he can be all over the place. There is no better illustration of this than in the main solo to "For the Love of God" where he plays complex patterns and note groupings. I confess, when the solo starts I just ad lib around the basic idea. I have no doubt that this is what Vai himself did and I am positive he never plays it the same way twice. Even the book tells you to improvise rather than follow him note for note. But this guitarist actually did it. Everything...note for note! That is some achievement.
It is easier for me to play a similar motif - but faster - than to copy, note for note, what someone else is doing. Especially when there is no recognisable pattern to it all. The only disappointment for me was the lack of 'big tracks'. We got 'Sisters', 'The Attitude Song' and 'Hand on Heart'. Granted, 'Hand on Heart' is great but I would have preferred 'I Would Love To', 'Ya Yo Gakk', 'Bad Horsie', 'Liberty', 'Tender Surrender' or even the duel from 'Crossroads'. Even some Whitesnake/David Lee Roth material would have been better placed than these tracks. After hearing the renditions of 'Juice' it is clear that the guitarist would have been able to pull these songs off.
I was dying for 'Tender Surrender'! Normally I would mark it down but the sheer renditions of the songs on offer make up for the disappointment here. All in all, this is an excellent package. Here's hoping for volume two!!!!!
Justin L Briggs - (England)