Album review: Joe Satriani, The Extremist (1992)

 

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 10, 1992

By Steve Newton

As much as I admire Kim Mitchell as a musician and songwriter, I must say that he ticked me off somewhat when I interviewed him a couple of months back. We were talking guitarists when Joe Satriani’s name came up, and Mitchell used him as an example of a technically proficient type who “blows his load” with a lot of flashy licks.

Well, either Mitchell’s jealous, or he hasn’t bothered to give Satriani a fair listen. One run-through of The Extremist would certainly change his mind.

Satriani is fast—he can out-shred the best of ’em—but he can also create some startling, atmospheric, and beautiful music. While fans of wad-blowing guitar can bang heads to “War”, more subtle sensibilities will be piqued by the soaring delicacy of “Cryin’ ”. “Tears in the Rain” wouldn’t be out of place on a Liona Boyd album, and my personal fave, “Why”, makes me hum, embarrassingly, on crowded street corners.

Satriani gets sturdy backup throughout The Extremist from bass- and drum-playing brothers Matt and Gregg Bissonette, and help from percussion aces Simon Phillips and Paulinho Da Costa and bassman Doug Wimbish. And anyone turned off by Satriani’s so-so attempts at singing on his previous album, Flying in a Blue Dream, will be happy to know that this time around he lets his nimble fingers do the talkin’.

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