Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Steve Vai - 1990 "Passion And Warfare"

Passion and Warfare is the second studio album by guitarist Steve Vai, released in September 1990 through Relativity and Epic Records. It has been certified Gold by the RIAA. It was written based on a series of dream sequences that Vai had when he was younger, and in the guitar music book of the album, Vai sums it up as "Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc". It was all recorded in The Mothership studio at his home in the Hollywood Hills, a 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) building in which his guitar parts for Whitesnake's 1989 album Slip of the Tongue were also recorded. As such, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale has small spoken parts on Passion and Warfare.

Vai states that planning the album started as early as 1982, but was shelved after joining the David Lee Roth band and not picked up again until parting ways with Roth in 1989.[2] Vai utilized many unusual recording techniques on the album. For what would come to be one of his most popular songs to date, "For the Love of God", he fasted for ten days and recorded the song on the fourth day of the fast. "Blue Powder" was originally recorded in 1986 as a showcase track for Carvin, using their X-100B amplifier, and given away with Guitar Player magazine in flexi disc format. Vai was introduced to Carvin by his mentor Frank Zappa, who had also used the X-100B. The drums were subsequently re-recorded for the album.

The equipment used to record Passion and Warfare was: Ibanez JEM and Universe guitars; Charvel Green Meanie guitar; Marshall JCM900 and Carvin X-100B amplifiers; ADA MP-1 preamplier; Boss DS-1 distortion pedal; Eventide H3000 harmonizer; Lexicon 480L.

The song "For the Love of God" is available for download for the 2007 video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and was voted the 29th best solo of all time by a readers' poll in Guitar World magazine.

In 2016, Vai embarked on the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour, where he played the album in its entirety for the first time.

It’s hard to explain the excitement and anticipation surrounding the release of Steve Vai’s second solo album, Passion and Warfare, when it was released in September 1990.

In an era known for outrageous guitar playing, the album promised to be the last word—a veritable Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks display of technique, tones and color.

One song was rumored to feature no less than 30 backward guitars, while another track, “For the Love of God,” was recorded after a reported four straight days of meditating, fasting and non-stop practicing.

“I was trying to push myself to the limit,” says Vai. “When it came time to record ‘For the Love of God,’ my fingers were totally gone. I had pictures of my fingers taken after that session, and they were bleeding under the skin.”

Produced and engineered by the guitarist himself, the album was the culmination of 20 years of study, experimentation, 12-hour marathon practice days and serious rock star image building. No mere compendium of “Steve’s latest riffs,” it was crafted to be the roadmap to the future of the guitar; a project so sprawling and ambitious, Vai had to develop a revolutionary seven-string guitar to capture all the notes rattling around in his skull.

Passion and Warfare was nothing less than the guitarist’s bid for immortality, and if it had the added benefit of leaving contemporaries like Edward Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen in the dust, so be it.

To really understand the genesis of the album, you have to travel back to 1980, when Vai was invited to join Frank Zappa’s band. Zappa, a guitarist and composer of complex, satirical music, had a reputation as a fearsome bandleader that demanded nothing less than perfection from musicians. While the gig did not make the 20-year-old a pop star—Zappa’s music was too bizarre and underground for that—Vai was immediately put on the short list of “musicians to watch” in the guitar community. To be so young and receive validation by someone as discerning and brilliant as Frank Zappa was no small thing, and people began to take notice as his street cred soared.

It was clear that big things were in store for the kid who could play anything Zappa could dish out, but it would take a few years. After leaving Frank’s band in 1983, Vai bought a house in Los Angeles where he built a modest recording studio in his backyard. There, he produced, engineered and recorded his first solo album Flex-Able, a compendium of warped instrumentals that were fabulously absurd and technically jaw-dropping.

The independent album sold surprisingly well, and Vai gained a reputation as the thinking man’s guitar hero. It was an impression further solidified by his band, The Classified, a progressive, Zappa-esque unit that appealed to a small group of hipsters in Los Angeles who had little use for the growing Eighties hair metal scene. The only downside was, it seemed like Vai was headed for nothing more than cult status, when suddenly he shifted gears.

In 1984, he replaced Yngwie Malmsteen in the hard rock unit Alcatrazz. After recording one fairly unremarkable album with the band, he left to join David Lee Roth’s high profile post–Van Halen band. Overnight the cult hero became one of the world’s most visible and celebrated lead guitarists, and his meteoric rise continued after he appeared in the 1986 blockbuster film Crossroads, where he played a pivotal role as the devil’s guitarist.

By 1990, Vai was a household name, and he wasn’t about to let the moment slip through his nimble fingers. Using his fame and his dazzling chops, he set out to make nothing less than the ultimate guitar album.
Upon the record’s release, Guitar World wrote: “Each track on Passion and Warfare features ravishing neo-psychedelic stereo panoramas reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and even Sgt. Pepper’s–era Beatles. This recording is not about playing diminished scales at full throttle, or tapping with four fingers—it’s nothing less than the guitar as an orchestra. It’s also one of the damnedest things we’ve ever heard.”

All these years later, it still is.

Track listing
All tracks written by Steve Vai.

No. Title Length
01. "Liberty" 2:03
02. "Erotic Nightmares" 4:15
03. "The Animal" 4:01
04. "Answers" 2:56
05. "The Riddle" 6:24
06. "Ballerina 12/24" 1:43
07. "For the Love of God" 6:03
08. "The Audience Is Listening" 5:30
09. "I Would Love To" 3:41
10. "Blue Powder" 4:44
11. "Greasy Kid's Stuff" 2:58
12. "Alien Water Kiss" 1:10
13. "Sisters" 4:07
14. "Love Secrets" 3:40

Total length: 53:15


Steve Vai – guitar, Eventide H3000, keyboard (tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 11), bass (tracks 8, 9, 11), arrangement, engineering, production
David Rosenthal – keyboard (tracks 2, 9, 13), background vocals
Pia Maiocco (credited as Pia Vai) – keyboard on one chord (track 4)
Bob Harris – keyboard (track 10), background vocals
Chris Frazier – drums (tracks 1–5, 8, 10, 11, 13)
Tris Imboden – drums (tracks 7, 9)
Stuart Hamm – bass (tracks 2–5, 7, 10, 13)
Nancy Fagen – vocals & hysteria (track 8)
Jamie Firlotte – boy vocals (track 8)
David Coverdale – background vocals
Rudy Sarzo – background vocals
Adrian Vandenberg – background vocals
Pascal Fillet – background vocals
Laurel Fishman – background vocals
Lillian Vai – background vocals
Pam Vai – background vocals
Joel Kaith – background vocals
Corky Tanassy – background vocals
Jamie Kornberg – background vocals
Lauren Kornberg – background vocals
Corinne Larue – background vocals
Famin' – background vocals
Darla Albright – background vocals
Laura Gross – background vocals
Rupert Henry – background vocals
Suzanna Harris – background vocals
Julian Angel Vai – background vocals