I was a bit … disappointed with Steve’s work on Billy Idol’s DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND. I mean, it was good and solid, but it was much different from his previous work with Billy. It was earthier, and a bit more traditional than what I’m used to hearing from him. What I like about Steve’s work is that it always sounds FUTURISTIC, at least to my ears. Not so with DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND. It was a mistake that Steve didn’t get to co-write the whole album with Billy, and I’m sure it was because of Billy. At least, that’s the impression I get. And as such, it doesn’t scale the heights of REBEL YELL and WHIPLASH SMILE.
Not so with Steve’s new studio album MEMORY CRASH. This is the Steve we all know and love… great guitar playing, inventive creativeness, and a tour de force of various styles which unmistakably create the du jour that is Steve Stevens. There is some great shredding on this, but only when it’s necessary for the songs. Through and through, it’s a songwriter’s release… with great SONGS that are made better with the guitar playing. There are many classic moments on it… none as awesome as the fantastic intro to CHERRY VANILLA: “You just gotta play a stone groove.” With that, he grooves the listeners to heaven… with a fantastic song. That’s another thing. So many of the songs on this have great GROOVE… they make you want to move. Most guitar instrumental albums are boring… not this one. Steve uses different guitars, and sounds to create awesome textures. PRIME MOVER has some parts that reminds me of U2’s “bullet the blue sky”… only on the slide guitar riff. But Edge could only dream of shredding like Steve does on this bad boy. And when the raygun makes an awesome return toward the end of the song… it’s nuclear. I have to rewind it every time ’cause I love it so much. dUg Pinnick’s vocals on “day of the eagle” are fantastic… a great job by a gifted singer. The only other vocal song is “josephine”, where Steve does the vocals. He has a great voice too, which is skillfully hidden with effects processing. The song is heartfelt, and has great writing.
I don’t know if Steve had offered any of these gems to Billy, but if Billy turned them down… then he made a mistake. Any of them could have been turned into fantastic vocal songs.
I can only hope that Steve will do a full album someday handling all the vocals. I loved his vocals on his first solo album, and have no doubt he could pull it off.
I highly recommend MEMORY CRASH. It’s eclectic.. goes through different styles.. but is threaded by the awesome songwriting and guitar playing of guitar hero Steve Stevens… a futuristic sounding musician in full control of his talent and creativity.