Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Joe Satriani – Dreaming #11 (1988)

This four-song EP was released in 1988 after Satriani’s big breakthrough Surfing With the Alien, and was largely a keep-alive of tracks from the tour, with a single studio number. At only 22 minutes, it’s not a high-value purchase, but it was the first look at Joe’s live work, and has a great new song on it, too.

The live tracks are okay, nothing special. What really got me about that is that I read a review in an issue of Guitar Player or whatever, and Satriani basically admitted that he had no idea how he could take such a crazy studio album on the road. But he got Stu Hamm and Jonathan Mover, and made it happen. “Ice Nine” sounds pretty close to the album, with little trills and frills to keep it interesting. “Memories” starts with a totally solo piece that is very ambient and bluesy, just him noodling around and playing with his tone, before he catches the song by it’s first little riff. The song takes off and seems to have more tempo than the studio version, although everything’s just as precise. At the end of the nine-minute performance, he gets into a jammy little improv breakdown before closing it up, which is pretty sweet. They finish with “Hordes of Locusts,” which is an odd choice for a closer, but it’s cool that they can do something that intricate live.

To me, this album is memorable for a few reasons. One, I had been a fan of Satriani’s since his first album, and I remember getting a flexi-disc (which I still have, somewhere…) that contained a radical arpeggio bit that segued into a song with an absolutely crushing melody played on a chorus pedal. About a year later, I picked up this CD, and found that very same song, “The Crush of Love,” as the first track! The CD sounded much better than the floppy plastic thing did on my cheap turntable, balanced by a bunch of pennies I put on the face to keep the needle from hopping. It’s a very cool little track, and it has no great heroics as far as the fretwork goes, but just a really hip sounding guitar part, the kind of thing I could listen to on repeat for an hour at a time. And that’s what Satriani is all about; a stellar tone, pretty good fingerwork, but just an overall melodic hook that totally brings you in.

Oh yeah, I skipped school the day that album came out. There was a fire drill before first hour, and the firemen were telling everyone to get the fuck out, so I left and didn’t come back. I was going to drive to Chicago and hang out for the day, but I chickened out, went to University Park Mall in South Bend, and picked up the album at the Camelot records. I remember listening to it in awe, maybe three times in a row on my car deck, before I slept in a Sears parking lot for two hours and then went to the crap pizza store in the mall for a slice.

This album is neither a stellar collection of b-side marketing or a formidable live EP, but the one studio song pretty much made the purchase price for me. Call me a sucker, but I really do enjoy this CD.

Rating: 8