Surfing with the Alien

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Surfing with the Alien
Joe Satriani Surfing With the Alien.jpg
Studio album by Joe Satriani
Released October 15, 1987 (1987-10-15)[1]
Recorded Alpha & Omega Recording, Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco
Genre Instrumental rock
Length 37:37[2]
Label Relativity
Producer Joe Satriani, John Cuniberti
Joe Satriani chronology
Not of This Earth
Surfing with the Alien
Dreaming #11
Singles from Surfing with the Alien
  1. "Surfing with the Alien" / "Ice 9"
    Released: 1987 (1987)[3]
  2. "Always with Me, Always with You" / "Hill of the Skull"
    Released: 1987 (1987)[4]
  3. "Satch Boogie"
    Released: 1987 (1987)[5]

Surfing with the Alien is the second studio album by guitarist Joe Satriani, released on October 15, 1987 through Relativity Records.[1] The album is one of Satriani's most successful to date and contributed greatly to establishing his reputation as a respected rock guitarist.[6] It is his third highest-charting album on the U.S. Billboard 200, reaching No. 29[7] and remaining on that chart for 75 weeks, the longest of any of his releases.[8] It is also notable for being the first instrumental rock album to reach the Billboard Top 40 chart;[9] Satriani's subsequent album Flying in a Blue Dream (1989) would chart higher, at No. 23.[10] Surfing with the Alien was certified Gold on February 17, 1989 and Platinum on February 3, 1992; this being Satriani's first release to achieve either accolade, and to date his only studio album to go Platinum.[1]

Two singles from the album reached Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart: "Satch Boogie" at No. 22 and "Surfing with the Alien" at No. 37.[7] A third single, "Always with Me, Always with You", received a nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Performance at the 1989 Grammy Awards, while the album itself was nominated for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the same event;[11] these being Satriani's first two of many such awards. Live versions of "Always with Me, Always with You" would later be nominated for Best Rock Instrumental twice more, at the 2002 and 2008 Grammys.[12][13]


The album contains fast and complex songs such as the title track and "Satch Boogie", which helped to further popularize shred guitar during that time,[9] in addition to the strange-sounding "Crushing Day" and "Lords of Karma". By contrast slower, melodic songs such as "Always with Me, Always with You" and "Echo" provide a change of pace. "Midnight" utilizes the technique of two-handed tapping at high tempo,[9] evoking a Spanish fingerstyle effect. There are also Nashville-tuned guitars ("Echo") and key changes ("Always with Me, Always with You" and "Echo") for variation. "Ice 9" references the fictional apocalyptic substance from Kurt Vonnegut's 1963 novel Cat's Cradle.[14]

The title track was made available as downloadable content in the music video games Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (2007) and Guitar Hero Arcade (2009). "Satch Boogie" is available as a playable track in Guitar Hero III's sequel Guitar Hero World Tour (2008), and as a bonus track in Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades (2008). Additionally, both "Satch Boogie" and "Surfing with the Alien" are downloadable tracks for the Rock Band series.

"Satch Boogie" was used in the 1991 film Problem Child 2.


The cover art depicts the Marvel Comics character Silver Surfer on the front, with the hand of Galactus on the inside cover. The artwork is taken directly from Silver Surfer #1 (1982). The artist, John Byrne, has noted that the image was used without his permission and that he has never received payment for its use.[15] However, the album's back cover lists a Marvel Characters, Inc. copyright statement.


Surfing with the Alien has been reissued several times. A remastered edition of the album was first released on July 27, 1999 through Epic Records, which featured expanded liner notes.[16] A second remaster celebrating the album's 20th anniversary was released on August 7, 2007 through Epic/Legacy Recordings;[17][9] this is a double-disc set comprising the album itself with further expanded liner notes, as well as a DVD featuring Satriani's live performance at the 1988 Montreux Jazz Festival, music videos for "Always With Me, Always With You" and "Satch Boogie", and additional bonus material. To promote the 2007 reissue, Satriani played exclusive club gigs in select cities.[18]

The most recent reissue of Surfing with the Alien was part of The Complete Studio Recordings, released on April 22, 2014 through Legacy Recordings; this is a box set compilation containing newly remastered editions of every Satriani studio album from 1986 to 2013.[19]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[6]

Stephen Thomas Erlewine at AllMusic gave Surfing with the Alien 4.5 stars out of five, saying that it "can be seen as the gold standard for guitar playing of the mid- to late '80s, an album that captures everything that was good about the glory days of shred."[6]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Joe Satriani.

No. Title Length
1. "Surfing with the Alien"   4:25
2. "Ice 9"   4:00
3. "Crushing Day"   5:14
4. "Always with Me, Always with You"   3:22
5. "Satch Boogie"   3:13
6. "Hill of the Skull"   1:48
7. "Circles"   3:28
8. "Lords of Karma"   4:48
9. "Midnight"   1:42
10. "Echo"   5:37
Total length:

2007 remastered edition bonus DVD[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Ice 9"    
2. "Memories"    
3. "Midnight"    
4. "Rubina"    
5. "Circles"    
6. "Lords of Karma"    
7. "Bass solo"    
8. "Echo"    
9. "Hordes of Locusts"    
10. "Always with Me, Always with You"    
11. "Satch Boogie"    
12. "Satch Boogie" (music video)  
13. "Always with Me, Always with You" (music video)  
14. "Bonus material"    


Charts and certifications[edit]


Year Title Chart Position
1988 "Satch Boogie" Billboard Mainstream Rock[7] 22
"Surfing with the Alien"[7] 37


Event Title Award Result
1989 Grammys Surfing with the Alien Best Rock Instrumental Performance Nominated[11]
"Always with Me, Always with You" Best Pop Instrumental Performance
2002 Grammys "Always with Me, Always with You" (from Live in San Francisco) Best Rock Instrumental Performance
2008 Grammys "Always with Me, Always with You" (from Satriani Live!)


  1. ^ a b c "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
  2. ^ Surfing with the Alien (CD edition "Relativity 88561-8193-2".
  3. ^ "Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  4. ^ "Joe Satriani – Always With Me, Always With You". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  5. ^ "Joe Satriani – Satch Boogie". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  6. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  7. ^ a b c d "Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani | Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  8. ^ "Joe Satriani - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  9. ^ a b c d Fox, Darrin (2007-08-01). "Joe Satriani(2)". Guitar Player. NewBay Media. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  10. ^ "Flying in a Blue Dream - Joe Satriani | Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  11. ^ a b "31st Grammy Awards - 1989". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  12. ^ "44th Grammy Awards - 2002". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  13. ^ "50th Grammy Awards - 2008". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  14. ^ Surfing with the Alien liner notes (1999 remaster).
  15. ^ Byrne, John. "Byrne Robotics: FAQ". Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  16. ^ Satriani, Joe (1999-06-08). "news". Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  17. ^ Surfing With The Alien "Surfing With The Alien". Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  18. ^ "Joe Satriani Set to Play Exclusive Club Dates". JustPressPlay. 2007-07-12. Archived from the original on 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  19. ^ Bosso, Joe (2014-04-08). "Joe Satriani talks The Complete Studio Recordings album by album | Surfing With The Alien (1987)". MusicRadar. Future Publishing. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  20. ^ "Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 48, No. 6, May 28 1988". RPM magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  22. ^ "Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien". Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Joe Satriani Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Joe Satriani.
  24. ^ William J. Fuld: The New Zealand Charts - A Red Chart?. Limited Edition. 1998. Quote: "Any metal or rock album longer than 10 weeks in the NZ charts has been certified platinum."
  25. ^ "BPI Gold Sales Award – Surfing with the Alien". Equipboard. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]