Joe Satriani: my top 5 not-so-guilty pleasures of all time
"When it comes to music, I've got so many 'not-so-guilty pleasures' that it's hard to know where to begin – so we’ll start at the beginning, then. The music we love as we come of age stays with us our entire lifetime. It becomes part of our DNA.
"We never know what song is going to hit us right between the eyes, make our hearts go boom-boom-boom or go straight into our soul and become part of us. We embrace this music as the soundtrack to our lives.
"Growing up the youngest in a house of seven music enthusiasts,I was exposed to a variety of music: jazz, classical, funk, rock 'n' roll, blues, etc. I loved it all. It's all a part of me, and it informs my playing style today.
"Some of my friends thought I was nuts when I would put on a Black Sabbath record, then a James Brown disc, followed by Jethro Tull, only to be followed by Miles Davis or Todd Rundgren. Inspiration and genius was my concept of continuity. I did my best to turn my buddies on to all the artists I loved, and they returned the favor, opening my eyes to other kinds of new music.
"So here are some of my enduring guilty and not-so-guilty pleasures… "
Simon & Garfunkel – Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits (1972)
"These guys made some of the most hyper-melodic folk-rock ever recorded, period. Paul Simon's writing during the band's early days was stellar, and curiously, it was both original and 'hat-tipping' to the American folk idiom. That's a long-winded way of saying that I really like listening to and playing this music.
"I recently viewed the Charles Grodin-directed Songs Of America 1969TV special and was struck by the contrast between Simon's speaking voice – just like my old 'Noo Yawk' accent – and his angelic singing voice. It was almost comical. But it drove home the point that sometimes genius comes in unusual packages. You can't judge a book by its cover, etc... "
Yes – The Yes Album (1971)/Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Trilogy (1972)
"What are my excuses for loving these records? Chalk it up to high school, coming of age, hormones and, of course, the simple love of great compositions with stellar performances. I admit to spending far too many hours listening to these records while being up to no good with my high school buddies/co-conspirators, girlfriends and bandmates, but it all lead to moments of musical clarity.
"These two bands put so much good stuff into each song – it’s still very inspiring to listen to and marvel at. Now that enough time has passed, you can forget about wondering if the stuff was hip or not. Just listen and enjoy. Each musician laid down amazing performances track after track – and it’s all analog, funky sounding and groundbreakingly progressive."
Eddie Harris – Eddie Harris Sings the Blues (1972)
"Eddie Harris struck a chord with me. His sax playing went straight to my heart the first time I heard my mother spinning his records back in the day. My parents were of the jazz age, and they played their favorite records all the time on our home's imposing Magnavox console record player. I would hear the greatest horn players filling our family room as I was turning into a young musician myself. I took note.
"Eddie was a complete original, a genius and the most forward-thinking player I ever heard. He was part Miles, part Coltrane, part Hendrix, and yet he existed in a world all his own. I've never heard anyone besides him make odd time that was so funky and physically inviting. He had the chops, but he still felt the need to develop a way to sing through his horn – literally.
"The effect was chilling, and exactly what a 14-year-old budding rock guitarist wanted to hear from a saxophone."
Iggy And The Stooges – Raw Power (1973)
"Every time I listen to this record, I go 'WTF?!' It's so dirty and raw and bad to the bone. It's one of those albums that somehow sweetens in your memory, but at the same time, it still manages to shock you each time you put it on.
"It set a new standard in rock music – none of its edge was removed for public consumption. Can you imagine how harsh, powerful and fun the sound must have been like if you were in the room with these guys? How did they ever get it on tape? It's just so rude in every way. I really love this record."
Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
"I used to listen to this album on 8-track! I had a portable 8-track player, and I could stick my head right between the two detachable speaker units to get the full effect (when I was supposed to be doing my homework). Yes, another record from my youth that I've never outgrown, but it's also one that has stood the test of time, though. Nothing trumps good writing, performing and recording when it's all wrapped up in one package.
"I still marvel at Stephen Stills' creativity as a writer, producer and player, and I find his work to be very inspirational. The vocal arrangements are crazy-good and way ahead of their time. The performances are all inspired and full of life. This record captured three very different musicians making music as an original unit, pushing the boundaries of the time in a very melodic way."