Monday, December 3, 2012

Classic Album Review: "Real Illusions: Reflections"

Back to Steve Vai. I made mention in my previous post that I didn't have enough of his albums, well here is my latest purchase. Mr. Vai continues to amaze me on all of his records.

Whereas the previous post was about his current album, this is about its predecessor, and the first chapter (or third) of his rock fable that's told out of order, or maybe in order. He's not quite clear on that one.

Like the other album, it's a mixture between an instrumental record and vocal songs. I think over time Steve has learned to be satisfied with what his voice is and is now comfortable singing on a couple songs each album. It certainly does break up the monotony of the awesome guitar solos. I suppose this album tells the story of Captain Mason Drake as well, but like with what I learned from it's successor, I chose to simply ignore all of those details and just focus on the music.

I am a bit saddened to say that this album is not as good as its successor.


No, I'm happy to tell you that! I'm saddened to tell you that I listened to them out of order. As I continue to type about this, I am thinking that this particular look back is going to be very, very uneven, and probably fairly unfair to Mr. Vai and co.

This album has the familiar Steve Vai pyrotechnics on the whammy bar, and some very unusual things, of course. There is one riff, that is heard in much greater detail on the concert that recently aired on AXIS TV, where he holds a chord and chops at the whammy bar while moving the chord around the neck creating a sound I have never heard before. I think to truly hear Steve Vai, you have to have seen him at least once and that can be either on TV or in person. Just seeing what it takes for him to make a guitar sound like he does is staggering. There is also sitar on the song "Freak Show Excess" and then there's "Yai Yai." This is a song that is sung, I guess? It sounds a lot like the throat singing that Sheldon did in an episode of the Big Bang Theory, but you know it works.

What continues to stick with me though is the final track the album, "Under It All." This is a very long song where we are introduced to a number of characters who tell the most basic thing about their identity (I'm a nun, I'm a father of two, I'm this, I'm that) and that is followed by their darkest secret. That song just really spoke to me. We all see people and give a snap judgment, not to say that it never goes away, but we never see the whole picture.

All in all, this is a worthy predecessor to the following album and definitely worth having.

Genre: Instrumental  Guitar
Year: 2005
Run time: 55:10
Playlists: Hail Satan A Cab, Nothing Left Said, Mellowship of the Ring

Track listing:

1. Building the Church
2. Dying For Your Love
3. Glorious
4. K'm-Pee-Du-Wee
5. Firewall
6. Freak Show Excess
7. Lotus Feet
8. Yai yai
9. Midway Creatures
10. I'm Your Secrets
11. Under It All

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