Perhaps it is not so surprising Steve Vai was ready to take a break for a bit in 1991. He established his guitar cred during a decade working with Frank ZappaAnd David Lee Roth And White snake – arduous periods, if accomplished, accompanied by varying degrees of high personal drama. He’s recently put his solo career into high gear and has been drawing to a high level of acclaim for his sophomore efforts, ’90s Passion and war. Amidst it all, and beyond, Wow/Jash is a strange thing, a moment of letting go of adrenaline finally released nearly 32 years after it was recorded.
Jash was John Sombroto, of Queens, New York, whom Fey had met through mutual friends on motorcycles. Gash, who died in 1998 (two days after Fay’s father), survived a near-fatal accident when he was 21, and despite his scars (as the nickname suggests), got back on the bike and ended up in Los Angeles during the early 1980s. . Attracted to Gash’s “charm and magnetic appeal”, Faye had the idea that his new friend could provide the right voice for some “biker-type songs”. Vai was projecting a range of tunes that differed from the more technically minded material the guitarist had staked his reputation on.
They didn’t work together for long—about two weeks at Fay’s estimation, and during that time they’d recorded half an hour’s worth of music. It was, as Fey described it, “a certain kind of music to listen to when I was riding my Harley-Davidson motorcycle with my friends” and also “reminiscent of a certain kind of rock music I enjoyed as a teenager in the ’70s.” It’s simpler, in other words, more direct. And immediacy and a bash -em-out quality we hadn’t heard from Vai up until that point. Wow/Jash It’s all about the country and the songs, as well as the hard rock soul of the time imbued with the so-called grunge that was defining the moment. If it had been released at that time, it probably would have failed, but more than three decades later, there is no doubting the authenticity and intense emotion behind these songs. While Jash sings on “New Sensation”,I have got The rolling stones And my wheel is on fire, I need no more. “
Wow/Jash It opens with “In the Wind”, riding a Stones/glam-fused guitar with background piano beats and the stacked-in-your-face vocal harmonies that populate much of the album; It is an anthem for those who prefer to ride without a helmet. “Let’s Jam,” “Danger Zone,” and “She Saved My Life Tonight” churn out rock-heavy Sunset Boulevard, while “Busted” boasts brisk walking. Van Halen“Hot for the teacher.” Wow/JashIts changes, meanwhile, are a somber throwback to “Woman Fever” and “Flowers of Fire,” a powerful ballad with majestic intentions that would be low-hanging fruit for a producer like Mutt Lange.
It’s interesting to think about where Vai’s overall career might have gone if there had been more time to make music with Gash, and what kind of balance he would have struck between this kind of musical meat-and-potatoes and his artistic endeavors. We’ll never know, though Wow/Jash Unlikely to be anyone’s first choice in their canon, it’s certainly a worthwhile alternative.
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