Steve Vai's Vai/Gash is a joyful throwback to simpler times

Vai/Gash is an unearthed, back-to-basics collection from guitar star Steve Vai and his late friend, singer Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto

Vai/Gash album art
(Image: © Favored Nations/Mascot)

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As his recent album Inviolate confirms, Steve Vai is an extraordinary musician and an unearthly guitarist. But there’s a looser, more rock’n’roll side to him too, which can get lost in his esoteric widdly shuffle. It’s the side David Lee Roth tapped into for their rich partnership, and Vai/Gash is a joyful throwback to those simpler times.

Vai recorded this in 1991 with his biker buddy, singer Johnny ‘Gash’ Sombrotto, who died in a crash seven years later. But these hooky, hard-rocking, stripped-down tunes were written with their Harley-Davidson ride-outs in mind, and that blue-skies-and-blacktop spirit’s there in lead-off track In The Wind, irresistible riff-rocker Busted, singalong Let’s Jam and the bluesy Woman Fever.

Right down to daft New Generation and obligatory power ballad Flowers Of Fire there’s some Led Zeppelin heft here, but mainly Kiss’s dumb fun (Gash’s impressive roar has some Paul Stanley to it) and a dash of Roth’s party vibe too. Vai keeps the guitars thrillingly, skilfully simple – big riffs and bigger choruses, with the occasional face-melting solo in there.

Despite the sad circumstances, the smile on this record’s face is contagious.

Grant Moon

A music journalist for over 20 years, Grant writes regularly for titles including Prog, Classic Rock and Total Guitar, and his CV also includes stints as a radio producer/presenter and podcast host. His first book, 'Big Big Train - Between The Lines', is out now through Kingmaker Publishing.