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Steve Vai - Flex-Able CD (album) cover

FLEX-ABLE

Steve Vai

 

Prog Related

3.61 | 66 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Flex-able is under-rated guitar virtuoso Steve Vai's first solo album, featuring a enjoyable mash-up of song styles and instrumental playing. While it's not exactly a guitar clinic or instrumental showcase, it is completely fun, infectious, and energetic.

Zappa's influence on Vai is all over this album; in fact, if one didn't know better, the album's opener "Little Green Men" could be mistaken for a lost Zappa track. It's a jaunty, highly complex and orchestrated song with diverse instrumentation like flutes and vibes. There's even an enjoyable send up of the Close Encounter's melody. This and the rapidly shifting time signatures and playful vocals/characterizations make a great first impression. It's a fun track that is cheesy enough to enjoy at a superficial level, but such a dense composition that there's actually a lot going on behind the surface. This description goes for much of the album.

That's not to say that Vai is just ripping off Zappa. There is a distinct guitar signature that we hear throughout on later songs. There are numerous instrumental transitions that show off Vai's ambitious and almost vocalized guitar sound. There's no shredding or in your face solos, just a lot of nice axe work incorporated into the fun vibe of these songs. I guess I'd call Vai's guitar playing as being sassy, as we hear in the apply named "Attitude Song". The Zappa influence acknowledged, I actually found just as much Fripp influence as well, as Vai's creativity comes across as the sort of tangled guitar sound we hear on Crimson's excellent Discipline album. Even Flex-able's "pop" songs, "Lover's Are Crazy" and "The Boy/The Girl Song" are too weird for most casual music fans to enjoy.

The lengthiest song on this album, "Junkie Song" is hilarious. It sounds like a send-up of a musical, or film score, and features an open-ended solo filled with crazy effects, bends, time changes, etc. A great song.

With Vai's excellent playing, a great supporting band, fun mix of songs, and hilarious exuberance, Flex-Able comes highly recommended for rock fans in the mood to have a good time enjoying experimental, warm, and eclectic music.

Songwriting: 4 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay:5

Prog Leviathan | 4/5 |

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