Remco Post : We at the editing section of Lords of Metal still call Remco Post a guest writer, as he is no member of the crew, but he does assist us on a very regular basis with articles that require his specialism, among which the most beautiful guitar instructions of Lick Library. But for a guest he has passed by an impressive number of times by now, particularly for the reviews of the Lick Library guitar tutorials. And how representative can a series of guitar tutorials be without the king of gods among guitarists, Steve Vai. There are three volumes dedicated to him, of which this is the last one so far you get from our esteemed Remco. He takes over from me from here on, and again he has to call defeat at times, but he does give a clear insight on what you can expect, as a future guitar hero… (Ramon-LoM).
As promised this month the third and last episode of the Lick Library series 'Learn to Play Vai'. And if you are reading this too, congratulations, you weren't discouraged by volume 1 and volume 2 and put your guitar away for good. Again it is a two DVD set with five songs on it: 'Die To Live', 'The Boy From Seattle', 'Juice', 'The Animal', 'Boston Rain Melody'. For the release Lick Library recruited two instructors, namely Andy James, who we already know from a great number of other series and the to me completely unknown Jamie Humphries (he did Learn To Play Metallica volume 1, among others, R.-LoM). Both of them have an incredible list of honour, but still it amazes me to see that they can play and explain Vai songs.
DVD 1 is in the player and we start with the song 'Boston Rain Melody'. This one is done by Andy. He explains how until the solo everything is played clean with a single coil element and from there on the humbucker with distortion may come through. The clean part starts with beautiful plucking complemented with a wide range (and numerous) faciolets. Further on there is a typical Vai thing, which is faciolets with slides. But I must say that this is easier than I thought. But it gets tougher pretty soon, when whole chords are added to this story. Then there is the solo, again make sure to have a tremolo on your guitar, you will be needing it big time. Then there are also scales at hyper speed (even if Andy demonstrates them slowly) and here I lose track too.
On to the second song, 'Juice'. In this song there are quite some chapters to digest, but it starts off with power chords. Later on the well-known main riff comes by, which is both a nice one to hear and to play. So you should be having fun with that. A little further you could still be connected if you put yourself to it, and did I already mention this is just a very cool song? Especially the extra pinch harmonics in it make it a lasting memory. The solo however is divided into chapters too, which in turn are also divided in sub-chapters. And this is where I start to think “what the fuck is happening here, all together!”. Tremolo, scales, sweeps, everything comes by and at very high pace even. I think the fact that this takes no less than 23 chapter says it all.
On to the second DVD, which starts with 'The Boy From Seattle'. The song is introduced with by saying that your guitar should be tuned in D. He continues by introducing the song, what you can expect in terms of techniques and structures (which is very useful and a recommendation for the future recordings of Lick Library). Onwards it is regular chords with a rhythm in it, to which a slide is added. You would think that is relatively easy, but it is tougher than it seems. Off the record, the moment Andy starts the solo section he all the sudden has another guitar. Anyway, the solo starts beautiful and clean but shifts to an overdriven solo that sets off with a dive bomb and goes one with about a hundred thousand notes.
'Die To Live' only has three chapters. Chapter one with intro, main section & verse, chapter two with the solo section and chapter three the final section. And now it is time for teacher Jamie Humpries. He explains that it is not your typical Vai track, so I pay some extra attention. The song is more based upon rhythms inspired by the likes of Jimi Hendrix. The sound is a crunch tone with a delicate delay over it. And then Jamie starts to elaborate about his own guitar, which is a EvH model. I totally miss the point why, to be honest. For a lot of guitarists this song, after some serious studying, should be executable. It indeed is of another (read easier) level. And now the solo, for which the neck pickup is used. And even that is nor as tough as it can get sometimes. Don't get me wrong here, it is still hard work, but considerably less tough than the other songs.
The last ones is 'The Animal'. This has one chapter with the intro and the rest is seven chapters with solo stuff. This is done by Andy again, by the way. It is a more famous song, which is always cooler to do, so that's a nice one for a closing. The intro is not too tough, and a mighty fat piece to play. Again the solos are no cheap tricks and for another level of guitarists. They are complex and fully stuffed, demanding no less than 27 chapters!!!
My conclusion is that if you found the two prior tutorials cool and they were actually of some use to you, you will certainly dig this one too. Once more it is a fun DVD, but nothing for you when you are either a beginner or just a good guitarist, this is for the hot shots. Andy has proven to be an ace in the past, both as a guitarist and a teacher. But I think he transcends to another level here, with the way he brings across these tracks by Vai.