Sonny Landreth defends Joe Satriani on charges of wankerism

There's a couple of music writers in the Georgia Straight's editorial department who have a serious aversion to Joe Satriani. I'm not gonna name names, because in my opinion, they know not what they do. But whenever the word "Satch" comes up around the office, it's shortly followed by disgusted looks and derisive cries of "wanker!".

That description is ridiculous, of course. In my books Satriani is the exact opposite--a musical genius, no less. So why do these seemingly intelligent rock critics have it out for him? Maybe it's because, when he wants to, he can play so fast that it just scares them. The dude can definitely "shred", in the parlance of the times.

To try and shed some light on the diehard "Satch haters" I have to work with I looked to wise Louisiana slide-guitar wizard Sonny Landreth. His new all-instrumental album, Elemental Journey, features Satriani on the opening track "Gaia Tribe".

"Well, here's the thing," explained Landreth, who plays the Electric Owl on January 30. "Technique can go in any direction. It's not really about that, it's about the music, and where the music comes from. And when it comes from your heart and your soul, that's the important thing.

"And what a lot of people don't realize with Satch is, when he's playing really fast, if you listen very closely, there's beautiful melodic work within that. In a cosmic sense there are things that move much faster than we can see, and if you take that and you slow that down, then you discover what the components and the elements are. And his playing can be like that.

"Eric Johnson does that too," added Landreth, referring to the Texas tonemaster who also appears on Elemental Journey. "He's so soulful, and he's a shredder too. If that were all either one of them did, that would be a worthy criciticm perhaps, but that's just one aspect of their playing."

I thought that's what he'd say.

For more from Landreth about Satch and Johnson--and his idol Eric Clapton--see the story in the week's issue of the Georgia Straight. Read it on paper for that non-wanking, beautifully melodic vibe.

Comments (3) Add New Comment
TonyMuljat
Sonny says Satriani rocks... That's enough for me...
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voxnulla
Take away the self-indulging end-to-end solos, and you end up with flat generic caricatures of a musical genre that Satriani is attempting to mimic. I have compared his background score with Casio keyboard demos, but this was unfair to Casio because in their demos they actually try to show off the capabilities of the entire machine, not just the over-driven guitar sounds.

So if I listen carefully I will hear nice melodic patterns? As a pattern seeking species, I'm not impressed by that. I find nice melodic pattern in nature by accident all the time anyway. As a listener of music, I do not want to listen carefully all the time for those patterns to emerge, I want to enjoy it.

Of course, some melodic structures are bound to crop up if your songs are basically elongated bridges with end-to-end rapid solo work. When my cat walks over the piano you often get that too.

Satriani is the dictionary definition of a wanker, or fret-wanker to be precise. This is because he self-pleasuring masturbatory movements up and down the guitar and his expression on his face really go well together with the continues ejaculation of random meaningless notes and progressions.
He really is doing the musical equivalent of jerking-off on stage and coming over the hapless tasteless audience.

Only if you have never really listen to music before could you genuinely mistake this elevator music for something worth listening to. If, however, you have excess to the last 60 years of popular music and still like this cartoonesque parody of guitar music, then you really must have some brain-deficiency. No person with an IQ over 60 and some sense of balance can ever really honestly claim that Satriani noise is worth considering to listen to.

The random, arbitrary genericness of it all is so bleeding obvious, it makes me think that the world is playing a cruel joke on him. It's like Wesley Willis where the audience pays only to see a freak-show.
This is the only real explanation.
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Steve Newton
you callin' Sonny a liar?
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