Review STEVE VAI ‘Vai/Gash’

Steve Vai is definitely one of the all-time greats of rock music. His collaboration with Frank Zappa, countless solo albums, his time with Whitesnake, etc. made the guitarist one of the most important representatives of his craft.

These days Vai releases a new album, which is actually not that new. Vai/Gash’ contains songs that were written and recorded within two weeks in 1991. It was a time in which Vai felt the urge to record a straightforward rock album, which he definitely succeeded in doing with ‘Vai / Gash’.

After everyone knows Steve Vai, Johnny “Gash” Sombrotto may be less known. Born in Queens, New York, the singer had a serious motorcycle accident at the age of 21, in which 60% of his body was covered with 3rd degree burns. Sombrotto fought his way back and it is the enthusiasm for motorcycling that connected Vai and Gash. Slowly, the idea matured in Vai’s mind to have Sombrotto sing these biker songs. The result is one of the most authentic and down-to-earth rock albums. Each of these eight songs has an ease and sincerity that is not often found these days. ‘Vai/Gash’ also shows that musical expertise alone does not get you a good album. It’s the spirit and feeling that turns technical ability into good songs. Vai’s guitar and Sombrotto’s voice bring songs like the dynamic ‘Let’s Jam’ and the pumping ‘Danger Zone’ to life, injecting them with vitality and authenticity. Tracks like the slightly ‘Radar Love’ reminding ‘Busted’ inhale the spirit of rock’n’roll without ifs and buts, while you can feel the wind in your hair on ‘In the Wind’.


The thought of working on more songs was tragically stopped on September 7, 1998. Two days after the death of Vai’s father, the exceptional guitarist got a call from Sombrotto’s girlfriend Nancy and the shaking voice did not signal anything good. Johnny Sombrotto had a motorcycle accident and died, silencing a great voice forever.

Vai put the previous recordings on the shelf and there was no thought of releasing any of them. It took three decades until Vai could get himself to share the recordings with the world and one is tempted to say: thank God. This album is one of a kind and what a great voice the rock and roll world lost in 1998.

‘Vai/Gash’ is a tribute to the singer and enthusiastic biker, a passion he paid for with his life. Fortunately, in addition to memories, eight songs remain forever, which are now available for everyone to enjoy. It hardly can get more authentic than this.

Rating: 9 out of 10.

Tracklist:

  1. In the Wind
  2. Busted
  3. Let’s Jam
  4. Woman Fever
  5. She Saved My Life Tonight
  6. Danger Zone
  7. New Sensation
  8. Flowers of Fire

Label: Favored Nations / Mascot Label Group

Genre: Hard Rock

Release Date EU: January 27th, 2023

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