The greatest guitar instrumentalist in the world, Joe Satriani, released this album in 2002. I had this on cassette but it got spoiled and now I have it in mp3 format after a long wait. Most consider Surfing With The Alien to be Satriani’s best work and either The Extremist or Flying In A Blue Dream to be the next best. For me The Extremist is the best and this one, Strange Beautiful Music to be the second best. Atleast as far as favourite Satriani albums are considered, this one is second in my list. One reason is that there 14 songs on it and I can’t find any weak ones among them. After his dabbling with electronica on 2000’s Engines Of Creation, Joe returns to the bread-and-butter of straight-forward instrumental virtuosity with a few exotic nuances sprinkled throughout.
The album starts with the sinister sounding yet ultra-cool Oriental Melody, which has some South-East Asian influences. One of my fav tracks of Satriani is Belly Dancer in which fat guitar tones mix with Middle Eastern-flavored chord progressions in an intriguing mix. rejoice over the return of this prodigal son once they hear the thundering riffage of Mind Storm, hook-filled New Last Jam and sassy snap of Hill Groove.
The ballads are there and about as melodious as you can expect – Starry Night is obviously the best track on the cd. Then you have You Saved My Life & a gorgeous cover of the Santo and Johnny ’50s hit Sleep Walk featuring a cameo by Robert Fripp, a guitar god in his own right. One of the few times that Joe experiments with a 7 string guitar is on Seven String.
I think anyone who likes good rock music & guitar rock music should go and buy this one. You get 14 great tracks and an everlasting admiration for one of rock’s best & greatest! Here’s a live rendition of Belly Dancer.