Passion and Warfare

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Passion and Warfare
Studio album by
ReleasedMay 1990 (1990-05)
StudioThe Mothership
GenreInstrumental rock, progressive metal
ProducerSteve Vai
Steve Vai chronology
Flex-Able Leftovers
Passion and Warfare
Sex & Religion
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]

Passion and Warfare is the second studio album by guitarist Steve Vai, released in May 1990 through Relativity and Epic Records.[2] It has been certified Gold by the RIAA.


Passion and Warfare was written based on a series of dream sequences that Vai had when he was younger, and in the guitar music book of the album, Vai sums it up as "Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc". It was all recorded in The Mothership studio at his home in the Hollywood Hills, a 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) building in which his guitar parts for Whitesnake's 1989 album Slip of the Tongue were also recorded. As such, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale has small spoken parts on the album; Coverdale, Adrian Vandenberg and Rudy Sarzo are credited with backing vocals. Vai states that planning the album started as early as 1982, but was shelved after joining the David Lee Roth band and not picked up again until parting ways with Roth in 1989.[3]

Recording methods[edit]

Vai utilized many unusual recording techniques on the album. For what would come to be one of his most popular songs to date, "For the Love of God", he fasted for ten days and recorded the song on the fourth day of the fast.[4] "Blue Powder" was originally recorded in 1986 as a showcase track for Carvin, using their X-100B amplifier, and given away with Guitar Player magazine in flexi disc format. Vai was introduced to Carvin by his mentor Frank Zappa, who had also used the X-100B. The drums were subsequently re-recorded for the album.[5] The equipment used to record Passion and Warfare was: Ibanez JEM and Universe guitars; Charvel Green Meanie guitar; Marshall JCM900 and Carvin X-100B amplifiers; ADA MP-1 preamplier; Boss DS-1 distortion pedal; Eventide H3000 harmonizer; Lexicon 480L. Like many other releases by Vai, the album is largely instrumental, with only spoken word pieces being featured in terms of vocals, which are performed by many guests.


The song "For the Love of God" is available for download for the 2007 video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and was voted the 29th best solo of all time by a readers' poll in Guitar World magazine.[6]

In 2016, Vai embarked on the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour, where he played the album in its entirety for the first time.[7]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Steve Vai.

2."Erotic Nightmares"4:15
3."The Animal"4:01
5."The Riddle"6:24
6."Ballerina 12/24"1:43
7."For the Love of God"6:03
8."The Audience Is Listening"5:30
9."I Would Love To"3:41
10."Blue Powder"4:44
11."Greasy Kid's Stuff"2:58
12."Alien Water Kiss"1:10
14."Love Secrets"3:40
Total length:53:15
25th Anniversary Edition bonus tracks
15."Lovely Elixir" 
16."And We Are One (Solo #2)" 
17."As Above" 
18."So Below" 


  • Steve Vai – guitar, Eventide H3000, keyboard (tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 11), bass (tracks 8, 9, 11), arrangement, engineering, production
  • David Rosenthal – keyboard (tracks 2, 9, 13), background vocals
  • Pia Maiocco (credited as Pia Vai) – keyboard on one chord (track 4)
  • Bob Harris – keyboard (track 10), background vocals
  • Chris Frazierdrums (tracks 1–5, 8, 10, 11, 13)
  • Tris Imboden – drums (tracks 7, 9)
  • Stuart Hammbass (tracks 2–5, 7, 10, 13)
  • Nancy Fagen – "vocals & hysteria" (track 8)
  • Jamie Firlotte – boy vocals (track 8)
  • David Coverdale – background vocals
  • Rudy Sarzo – background vocals
  • Adrian Vandenberg – background vocals
  • Pascal Fillet – background vocals
  • Laurel Fishman – background vocals
  • Lillian Vai – background vocals
  • Pam Vai – background vocals
  • Joel Kaith – background vocals
  • Corky Tanassy – background vocals
  • Jamie Kornberg – background vocals
  • Lauren Kornberg – background vocals
  • Corinne Larue – background vocals
  • Famin' – background vocals
  • Darla Albright – background vocals
  • Laura Gross – background vocals
  • Rupert Henry – background vocals
  • Suzanna Harris – background vocals
  • Julian Angel Vai – background vocals
  • Pascal Fillet – mixing
  • Bernie Grundmanmastering


Year Chart Peak position
Australian Albums Chart[8] 25
Billboard 200[9] 18
Canadian RPM Top Albums[10] 27
Dutch Albums Chart[8] 32
New Zealand Albums Chart[8] 12
Swedish Albums Chart[8] 27
Swiss Albums Chart[8] 35
U.K. Albums Chart[11] 8


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[12] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[13] Gold 50,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[14] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[16] Silver 500,000[15]
United States (RIAA)[18] Gold 850,000[17]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Huey, Steve. "Passion and Warfare - Steve Vai". AllMusic. RhythmOne. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  2. ^ Graham, Jonathan (May 10, 2019). "Forgotten Guitar: Steve Vai's 1990 Appearance on MTV’s 'Headbangers Ball'". Guitar World. Future US. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  3. ^ Vai, Steve. "Notes: "Passion and Warfare"".
  4. ^ "Interview:Musician's Friend Exclusive Interview with Steve Vai, Part II" Archived 2016-07-01 at the Wayback Machine. Musician's Friend. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  5. ^ Tolinski, Brad (July 1990). "Steve Vai's Field of Dreams". Guitar School. Archived from the original on 2004-06-12. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  6. ^ Guitar World Staff (2008-10-28). "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 29 "For the Love of God" (Steve Vai). Guitar World. NewBay Media. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
  7. ^ Fanelli, Damian. "Steve Vai Announces 'Passion and Warfare' 25th Anniversary World Tour". Guitar World.
  8. ^ a b c d e Steffen Hung. "Steve Vai - Passion And Warfare". Retrieved 2012-08-01.
  9. ^ "Ultimate Music Database".
  10. ^ "100 Albums". RPM Magazine. 59 (11). July 28, 1990. Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
  11. ^ " - UK Top 40 Chart Archive, British Singles & Album Charts". Archived from the original on 2008-03-19.
  12. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia’s Music Charts 1988–2010. Mount Martha, Melbourne, Victoria: Moonlight Publishing.
  13. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare". Music Canada. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  14. ^ Scapolo, Dean (2007). The Complete New Zealand Music Charts: 1966–2006. Maurienne House. ISBN 978-1-877443-00-8.
  15. ^ "Steve Vai's Nielsen SoundScan Gold Award – Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare". Equipboard, Inc. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  16. ^ "British album certifications – Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 26 March 2020. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type Passion and Warfare in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  17. ^ "Relativity Goes After High Profile" (PDF). Billboard. 15 August 1992. p. 38. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  18. ^ "American album certifications – Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 26 March 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]