Modern Primitive/PAW25 Discussion!

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I am maybe a bit more into "easy" songs these days with strong melody.
But interesting to listen to all new songs, and learn the history behind them all.
So my favorite songs are:
"Mighty Messengers", "The Lost Chord" and "Upanishads" from the album "Modern Primitive".
And on "Passion And Warfare" the bonus song "Lovely Elixir" was nice.

Loved the bending melody parts in "Upanishads" (around 01:20 and at the end).
Makes me happy. Just like "Little Green Men", "Lucky Charms" and other of Steve's song
makes me happy. And that I really like :mrgreen:

Other songs I also liked where:
"Bop" - cool, interesting, a bit funny.
"And We Are One" - nice melody, singing and interesting solo. The solo (for me) maybe a bit to long and "experimemtal". Said (with a smile) Steve have problems with writing radio hits. Well, I guess that is much why we after all are here, so don't worry Steve. But maybe for a sweet little song like this you could release a "radio hit version" also. Shorter solo, something even my mom could like. But my mom like Elvis... Steve you got to work on those Elvis dance moves, bring them in your live show.

Thank's again Steve for the music.
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Modern Primitive is an album that many people were looking forward to, including myself, and I'm very glad that Steve took the time to make it the way it is.

First, I would say that I really like the cover, I think it reflects the vision behind the album and its title, which (along with the Passion and Warfare remaster) honors the past while being firmly rooted in the present moment. Quite a beautiful painting. Also, the whole packaging reminds me of the old vinyl sleeves, with both the discs and the booklets that you slide in. I'm one that really likes looking at photos and digging into the liner notes. Did you notice that in the large photo from the Passion and Warfare booklet Steve has a hint of a smile? I also find that the photos of The Classified capture well both the purity and the waywardness of that band. The dedication to Frank Zappa is sweet and appropriate, given the quality of some of the material on the album. I'm glad that the iTunes version has the booklet, too. I got that also because I had to wait to get my physical copy. I'm currently taking this album with me everywhere, and listen to it whenever I have the chance.

This is a good introduction to the vision behind this album. There is a playful quality to this track, but more mature than on Flex-able, both on the level of the playing and the arrangement. More depth, so to say. To be honest, at first I was fooled that the bass track was done by Stu, I knew of Mohini Dey and had read that she had recorded something for Steve, but I didn't know on which song(s). Man, is she good! I had also taken a look at a few videos of her on youtube and I find it heartwarming that there is still people like her in the world, dedicating their life to high quality music. I find myself smiling throughout the song, especially on the lower vocal sounds at the beginning that are in sync with the bass drum beats and on Cassie's "groggles". So funny! I love the air of lightness that the keyboards add, and especially the guitar solo. So spacious and beautiful.

Dark Matter
There is a similarity to Gravity Storm to this track, yes, and it sounds like Steve was also channelling his inner Hendrix a little (go to 2:50, for instance). But I find this track to be a little more subtle, the groove at 1:20 is so contagious (and hard on the fingers!). The solo sounds to me a little "lighter" than that on Gravity Storm, a little more "dancing", if that makes sense. How many musicians can you name that wrote a song like this? Not many, for sure. Only Steve, I would say. So unique!

Mighty Messengers
This song is more proof that Steve is as good a songwriter as he is as a composer of instrumental music. Very well arranged, energetic, upbeat song. The bass parts are wicked! I like the lyrics throughout, especially the chorus and the quote from A Course in Miracles, and also the vocal harmonies right before the solo, which has a slight 80s flavor in the warmth of the sound. Nice! The ending is beautiful, too.

The Lost Chord
When I want the hair on my arms to stand on end, this one does it very well. So beautifully powerful. The depth, the multilayering, the intensity, the lyrics… wow. And it's not just for Devin's contribution, which definitely adds depth to it. It's the whole package. The bulk of it comes from Steve of course, and he and Devin complement one another so wonderfully here, listen to the interplay between the guitar and vocals for example. Definitely one of the best songs they ever crafted together. The chord changes, the vocal harmonies, the solo, the lyrics, nothing is predictable here. Amazing.

This may be my favorite piece on the album, one of the most beautifully moving compositions that Steve made. There's a joy and a depth to it that I really love, freedom from the weight of the world. Glad that it has been completed now, it wouldn't be the same if it had been back in the 80s. It's the one that I am at a loss for words for the most. When I listen to it the mind is still and it's pure joy, enchantment, wonder and deep gratitude.

Fast Note People
Quite different version than the one on Western Vacation. I love the old version, but this one even more. It's more mature and produced, and has one of Steve's best vocal performances on the album. I particularly love it from the 2 minute mark… such a beautiful solo… and also the melody right after it (3:40). A true masterpiece.

And We Are One
I find elegance in all of Steve's songs (even the heaviest ones), and this one is the most elegant song on this album. To my mind, it brings the image of two lovers fluently dancing together. Steve's playing on it has some of his most refined nuances ever, there is nobody else who can pay that much attention to the way notes are evoked out of the guitar. Listen to the picking, the slides, the floating of the notes, the notes ringing into each other, and especially go to 4:34 and listen to that kind of run towards the end of the solo… how Steve gives it even more momentum with (I guess) the whammy bar. That's simply godlike, nobody else does that. Such a perfect blend of dexterity and soulful expression. Another favorite.

Never Forever
I love the intro to this one, it's "beyond beyond". Yes, it may be slightly reminiscent of the way Steve was writing in the mid to late 90s in the sentiment and perhaps the arrangement approach, it's got maybe a touch of something from The Ultra Zone (The Blood and Tears, Fever Dream maybe?), along with some sprinkling of a few other tunes like maybe Underground Garden. Perhaps it's the use of the sustainer and the background decoration, but it doesn't feel like it draws from past songs. I would say it reflects a certain frame of mind from that period, since the idea for it came on a soundcheck during the Fire Garden tour. Again, very good lyrics here, as there are throughout the album. I don't know why, but I feel like a little kid again when I listen to it. Dreamlike.

Lights are on
Another favorite, not just because it's quite a wild piece, with impossible guitar parts and and an amazing solo, but also because I love the main melody. It's so gorgeous. The keyboard parts are very remarkable, too. Some people might find it a little chaotic at times, but to me it makes perfect sense. This is one of Steve's pieces that is closer to the spirit of Frank Zappa, perhaps.

No pockets
Sometimes this one is close to be my second favorite after Upanishads. It, along with Lights are On, is a track that I think really captures the soul of The Classified as a band (could it be the original recordings from that era?). Stunning solo. I guess the theme of the lyrics revolves around both having trouble finding the pocket in the groove of the song and finding balance in life - all in a not too serious, lighthearted way. Love it!

Pink and Blows Over
Definitely one of the most unique and inspired pieces that Steve ever wrote and recorded. I know I already said that, but sometimes this is actually my second favorite on the album. I like the vocal melody on "And he can go fishing with no luck and still come home smiling". My favorite lines are: "He don't listen to his mind / Because he doesn't live in time" and "People seem to act like they're crazy / They don't even know who they are", I see the truth they point to every day in life situations. Part II is magnificent (and funny too, at times), so good to listen to a musician the caliber of Tommy Mars express himself with such freedom. When that happens, you cannot help but perceive and appreciate the honesty in the expression. Maybe my favorite moment is around the 6:00 minute mark. Tommy really sounds as good as he did in the old days, like time has not had any effect on him here. And then Part III, which is probably my favorite among the three, because I love the guitar more than any other instrument, but also because it seems to me that it brings back and ties together elements from the other movements. I imagine Frank would like this piece quite much. The whole piece is so perfect in all of its facets, and the more I listen to it, the more value I find to it.

With regard to the Passion and Warfare remaster, I have to say that I, like many other people in the world, have a special relationship with that album. The first song I ever heard from Steve is Erotic Nightmares, and within the first 50 seconds of listening, I absolutely knew I had found my favorite artist forever. I remember that moment very well. As a teenager, all my other friends and classmates were into other typical bands for that time (early 90s), and I was always kind of the outsider (and I still am, I guess) somehow trying to fit in. But since then, it didn't matter to me anymore, I had found something way more precious. I imagine I'm speaking on behalf of most people who love Steve's music. Listening to the remastered version, the music still feels timeless and forever. Plus, I know nothing of how a record is remastered, but when I listen to it, to me it sounds a little like when you put new strings on your guitar. You know the feeling?

Lovely Elixir
It's funny, I always liked "Europa" more than any other Carlos Santana songs and yes, in the opening melody to Lovely Elixir there is a slight similarity to it. But Steve's song goes so so much deeper to me. I wouldn't even compare the two songs. Steve's melody is so much more lush and decorated. One of the biggest mysteries in life is taste, sensibility and preference in things, I see it every single day and I am constantly amazed. Some people may say that the music on Modern Primitive is not of the most accessible type, and prefer what is played at shopping malls etc. For me, it's totally the opposite. I have colleagues (even a little older than me) that love certain pop singer-songwriters, and I respect their taste, but that type of musical expression just doesn't do it for me. Wherever I go, most of the time is top 10 radio songs in the background (where I work at the moment, especially), but it sounds... kind of shallow to me. In Steve's work, this song included, I find the depth, the elegance, the right sound, and every other element that I love in music. It's a way of expression that goes beyond the conditioning of the world. It's *in* the world, but not *of* the world. I'm very glad that Steve decided to release Lovely Elixir, to me it's so moving. The arrangement and the way it sounds, I think it fits in very well as a bonus track for Passion and Warfare, where the guitar plays the role of a whole orchestra.

And We Are One (Alternate Solo No.2)
Listening to both versions of the solo, I guess I can see how Steve chose the main version for it. If he only used the alternate version, it would have been amazing. But the main one goes quite deeper. It's good to have more versions of it, though. Especially if you're a hopeless collector of every little Vai snippet that can be found.

As Above and So Below
I remember when Steve released these songs about 12 years ago as Vai-Tunes. I can understand why, at the time of making Passion, he pulled them out. The album has a stronger statement the way it is, and it's already perfect. But it's nice to have them as bonus tracks now, most people may not have heard them yet. They are part of the original vision behind the record, and reflect the concept of the guitar in an orchestral context - and sound magnificent if you crank your stereo up.

Putting feelings into words is always challenging, because words are never *it*, but I tried my best here. Steve, thank you so much for making this album, for always providing a blessed relief from the craziness of the world, for still raising the bar of what can be done on the guitar, for still be exploring the depths of music as you've always done and then powerfully and gracefully bringing it on the stage. Thank you for the smiles, the tears and the joy your music always brings to us. I will never stop listening.
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P&W 25 was great. Modern Primitive was *not* what I was expecting.

I love Steve so much it hurts me to write this, but you fellow group of fans are the only ones who might possibly understand.

My formative years were spent hunched over my $100 Hondo in my overheated room during my free-time while I learned Flex-Able on cassette. Ordered alot of lessons/swag stuff from Steve directly in those days, lovingly fulfilled by his sister Lil. I don't have to tell you how magical those years were, or how much Steve and his playing means to me.

The rawness of Flex-Able/Leftovers (and Eat 'Em) made it seem like I really "could" play this magic stuff. The slide of the fingers on the wound strings sounded like mine. This was NOT an alien, this was a guy from my home state playing his guitar like an alien! I never came as close to the quality Steve's playing as I wanted to, but I had the time of my life trying. I wish I still had my X-100B...

I thought this new material was supposed to be a bridge between the two periods, but for me, it sounded too produced/new/slick - not raw enough. I am not privvy to all the recording details and I havent had time to read the liner notes (thanks for taking the time to do that Steve), but it sounded to me like there were alot of punch-ins and overdubs/processing done recently as well. I don't know. The new songs had their moments, but nothing really put me back in that place I was looking to go with Steve.

When I finally got to meet Steve in Montreal, I was so glad that he was the awesome person that his music communicated. I could tell he really appreciated me, and all of his fans who will always support him. However, I have to be honest that with this record I'm a bit deflated because I was hoping for more of a 'Junkie' or 'Viv Woman' and I got something else entirely. The only thing that made me feel really good about this album was imagining Steve needing to get these songs off his chest and it propelling him to another phase of his amazing music.

So Steve, I'll always love ya, knucklehead -- but this group of new/old tunes wasn't for me. Can't wait to see what you come up with next! -777-
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ginsu777 wrote: So Steve, I'll always love ya, knucklehead -- but this group of new/old tunes wasn't for me. Can't wait to see what you come up with next! -777-

This is what I love, everybody giving there honest thoughts about Steve's recent release. I can appreciate that.
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ginsu777 wrote: Modern Primitive was *not* what I was expecting.
I respect that.
But now that you've found out what the album is not, perhaps you could give it a chance again and try this time to listen to what the album actually is ? Maybe you'll be enchanted by the unexpected discoveries you might make ?

This is a technique that had work in the past for me, whenever I was "disapointed" by an album I was waiting for. You should give it a try. "Modern primitive" is worth it.
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Thanks for the tip, but I'm not interested in it. I know what I like, and that's that.

I was expecting something entirely different, but still went ahead and bought the CDs to support Steve anyway. I could have just searched online for the songs and listened before I bought, but I care about Steve enough to simply buy his music sound unheard.
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Jeroen wrote:
litlgrnman wrote:So over on Amazon there's an option for Passion And Warfare - 25th Anniversary Edition (180 Gram Audiophile Clear Vinyl/Limited Edition/Gatefold Cover) ... 8&qid=&sr=" onclick=";return false;

Supposedly shipping August 16th. Find it unusual that there's no mention on it here on

Maybe I missed it?
No you haven't - will post all details as soon as I have them.

Just an FYI - This presale is up and going on Amazon now. I didn't see anything here regarding special packages and I wasn't sure just how "limited" of a release it will be so I went ahead and snatched one up.

Any more details?

Thought I'd bump with this info for others wanting to get in on the action!
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Let me ask around,

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Thanks for checking.

I really wish there were plans for MP on vinyl as well. Don't suppose you've heard any rumors of that, have you? I'm guessing something would have been said by now but one can hope!

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Well, its now mid September so I figured I'd write a little update about how I'm liking the release a few months on! You never know who's reading, but either way I'm going to be straight up and honest about how I feel now and maybe see what other people thought also!

1 - Bop! : I find myself skipping this track a lot. It's not that I don't like or don't get it, but more the fact I find myself having to be in the right mood since it's quite intense.

2 - Dark Matter : This one survived the playlist purge! Still find the rhythms and timbres quite pleasing and interesting.

3/4 - Mighty Messengers/The Lost Chord : These two are by far the highlight of the record for me. These two are now amongst my favourite Vai tracks for a number of reasons. I love the seamless segue between them, the range of instrumentation/tones (the 8 string, DT's huge vocal harmonies/reverb, that funky little Earthquaker pedal, the move away from the standard Legacy tones... etc). I feel like these two tracks really were the perfect compliment to each other, I can't just listen to one by itself. Honestly, I thought that the B section of The Lost Chord could have been more than the ambiguous time/tonal vibe. I was dying for some more interesting progressions for quite some time, though after a while to think I believe that if that were the case it could actually detract from the song.

5 - Upanishads : I still quite like listening to this one and it's still on the playlist, but I'm not sure for how long. It's nice but occasionally fatiguing.

6 - Fast Note People : This song got dropped pretty quickly. It's not that I actively dislike the track, but more that it just didn't 'click' with me when I first got the record, and it hasn't still. I wouldn't complain if it was on but I'm not sure I'd seek it out.

7 - And We Are One : This to me still feels like a very charming track. The vocals have begun to bother me because they're so 'pop-y', well produced and smooth, but that's more down to my taste. I still listen to this one fairly regularly.

8 - Never Forever : I like the vibe to this track and it still comes up occasionally. For now at least it has stayed, but I see it becoming one of my favourite 'deep cuts' rather than a go-to song.

9 - Lights Are On : This one honestly just didn't do it for me. I wanted to like it, but it just fell a bit flat of my expectations. I completely understand the purpose and desire for noodling, but personally I think it could have benefited from a stronger theme than the one used. A great hook can really save a song, and I think this one needed it the most on the record. I feel similar in perspective to how I described Bop! Its not that I hate it, but I find myself losing interest and focus after the first couple of minutes. I have to be in the mood for listening or playing.

10 - No Pockets : This is a nice track still, though it is probably the bottom of the group of my album favourites. It made the cut, but not as convincingly as Mighty Messengers or the Lost Chord.

11 - Pink and Blows Over, Pt.1 : I like this section the most out of the whole piece and regularly listen to it by itself.

12 - Pink and Blows Over, Pt.2 : I kinda fell out of love with this after a while to be honest. At first it was interesting - and it still is. But after reading Vai considering it "the greatest piece of music I've ever written" it really fell short of my expectations. A statement like that to me would suggest pieces like Weeping China Doll, Velorum, Lovely Elixir or other great songs.. not quite the improvised vibe that this section gave. After how part 1 ended I expected much more. It's still interesting to listen to, but I wouldn't hesitate to skip it.

13 - Pink and Blows Over, Pt.3 : I feel similar to how I described part 2 with the addition that I'd probably not be quite so harsh on it. It's an acquired taste and I understand it, but its not something I could listen to all the time.

As for PAW 25's extra tracks, I quickly discarded most of them. They're demos and not supposed to be awe inspiring, and whilst it was insightful to see how PAW could have been I personally don't think they have a place on that record. However, Lovely Elixir has become one of my all time favourite Vai tracks. I love everything about it- the tones, the chords, the dynamics, strong melodies, the tension and release.. much of this track seems to me to be close to everything I like in instrumental music. This should have definitely been on Passion and Warfare - I'd love a vinyl single release of this track, and I'd love to hear more tracks from the shelf like this one!

Overall I think this album could go either way. I didn't really like Sex & Religion - its probably my least favourite Vai record - and I think that the tracks I'm not favourable to could be similar in regard to that record, but the tracks that I like I really love and would consider them amongst my all time favourites. Its not that I dislike that kind of music by any means, its more the fact that I personally know what I'd like to hear. I hear little gems in music from all over the musical spectrum, from Vai all the way to Webern or Schoenberg. As a musician and a writer, this to me is how I think we develop our own style. I might not like it, but for anyone else it could be the voice they never had. Criticism aside it is obvious that Steve is a very connected identity, but ultimately you can't please everyone! If I had to give it a rating I'd probably give it a 7.5/8 out of 10.

How about you? :)
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