Steve Vai The 7th Song (Epic)

Christmas Records

Steve Vai

The 7th Song (Epic)

The gist of The 7th Song is that all tracks appeared as track number seven on a previous album, except "Melissa's Garden," which is the seventh song on this record, and bonus tracks "The Wall of Light" and "Boston Rain Melody," which are songs No. 7 nowhere. It's only the most marginal of holiday albums, as it includes "Christmas Time Is Here," which was song No. 7 from the holiday guitar wankathon Merry Axemas album. Not that any of the others are particularly seasonally appropriate, but there is a fair amount of tasteful restraint (particularly "Burning Down the Mountain," and "Melissa's Garden") shown at times by a guitarist who can shred things so thoroughly. And while Vai doesn't display the knack for pure melody as, say, Eric Johnson, his playing flows consistently, almost like Allan Holdsworth by way of Joe Satriani. Of course, Vai does let his chops fly every now and then, especially on opener "For the Love of God," and the über-Zappa break of "Call It Sleep." On the other hand, his take on Wes Montgomery, "Tender Surrender," goes over the edge. But that's what Vai is -- a guy with serious skills and enough flash to want to let loose. Sometimes it's a wonder he controls himself as much as he does. Even so, The 7th Song is more suited for a guitar wanker's celebration than either Christmas, Chanukah, or even Kwanzaa. Unless maybe it's a really bitchin' Kwanzaa.

**.5

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