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)
Recorded Alpha & Omega Recording, Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco
Genre Instrumental rock, jazz fusion
Length 37:37
Label Relativity
Producer Joe Satriani, John Cuniberti
Joe Satriani chronology
Not of This Earth
(1986)
Surfing with the Alien
(1987)
Dreaming #11
(1988)
Singles from Surfing with the Alien
  1. "Surfing with the Alien" / "Ice 9"
    Released: 1987 (1987)[1]
  2. "Always with Me, Always with You" / "Hill of the Skull"
    Released: 1987 (1987)[2]
  3. "Satch Boogie"
    Released: 1987 (1987)[3]

Surfing with the Alien is the second studio album by American rock guitarist Joe Satriani. It was released on October 15, 1987, by Relativity Records. The album is one of Satriani's most successful to date and helped establish his reputation as a respected rock guitarist.[4]

Composition[edit]

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,[5] 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,[5] 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.[6]

Artwork[edit]

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.[7] However, the album's back cover lists a Marvel Characters, Inc. copyright statement.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[4]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 4/5 stars[9]
The Village Voice C+[10]

Released on October 15, 1987, by Relativity Records,[11] Surfing with the Alien charted at number 29 on the Billboard 200, proving to be Satriani's third highest-charting album in the United States.[12] It remained on Billboard 200 for 75 weeks, the longest run of any of his releases,[13] and also became the first instrumental rock album to reach the Billboard Top 40.[5] Surfing with the Alien was certified Gold on February 17, 1989, and Platinum on February 3, 1992, having shipped one million copies in the US. It was Satriani's first and only album to earn platinum certification.[11]

Two singles from the album reached Billboard‍ '​s Mainstream Rock chart: "Satch Boogie" at No. 22 and "Surfing with the Alien" at No. 37.[12] 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;[14] 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.[15][16]

In a contemporary review for The Village Voice, music critic Robert Christgau snidely referred to Satriani as "the latest guitar god" and felt he is too much of a formalist, because he not only composes but edits his guitar melodies: "Thus he delivers both the prowess cultists demand and the comfort they secretly crave".[10] In a retrospective review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine was more impressed by his technical abilities and praised Surfing with the Alien, writing 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."[4] According to The Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992), the record "put Satriani on the map. Beautifully played and well-paced, it manages to capture all the icy fire of fusion jazz without losing any of the visceral power of rock & roll".[9]

Reissues[edit]

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.[17] A second remaster celebrating the album's 20th anniversary was released on August 7, 2007 through Epic/Legacy Recordings;[18][5] 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.[19]

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.[20]

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:
37:37

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"    

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1987–1990) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[21] 10
Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)[22] 53
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[23] 16
US Billboard 200[24] 29

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
New Zealand (RMNZ)[25] Platinum 15,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[26] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[27] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Joe Satriani – Surfing With The Alien". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  2. ^ "Joe Satriani – Always With Me, Always With You". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  3. ^ "Joe Satriani – Satch Boogie". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  4. ^ a b c Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  5. ^ a b c d Fox, Darrin (2007-08-01). "Joe Satriani(2)". Guitar Player. NewBay Media. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  6. ^ Surfing with the Alien liner notes (1999 remaster).
  7. ^ Byrne, John. "Byrne Robotics: FAQ". byrnerobotics.com. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  8. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Omnibus Press. p. 2659. ISBN 0857125958. 
  9. ^ a b DeCurtis, Anthony; Henke, James; George-Warren, Holly, eds. (1992). "Joe Satriani". The Rolling Stone Album Guide (3rd ed.). Random House. p. 620. ISBN 0679737294. 
  10. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1988). "Christgau's Consumer Guide: Turkey Shoot". The Village Voice (November 29) (New York). Retrieved August 2, 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". RIAA. Retrieved 2015-03-12.
  12. ^ a b "Surfing with the Alien - Joe Satriani | Awards". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  13. ^ "Joe Satriani - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  14. ^ "31st Grammy Awards - 1989". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  15. ^ "44th Grammy Awards - 2002". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  16. ^ "50th Grammy Awards - 2008". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  17. ^ Satriani, Joe (1999-06-08). "news". satriani.com. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  18. ^ Surfing With The Alien "Surfing With The Alien". satriani.com. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  19. ^ "Joe Satriani Set to Play Exclusive Club Dates". JustPressPlay. 2007-07-12. Archived from the original on 2008-03-01. Retrieved 2014-03-22.
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien". Australiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  22. ^ "Top Albums/CDs – Volume 48, No. 6, May 28 1988". RPM magazine. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 
  23. ^ "Joe Satriani – Surfing with the Alien". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
  24. ^ "Joe Satriani – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Joe Satriani.
  25. ^ 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."
  26. ^ "BPI Gold Sales Award – Surfing with the Alien". Equipboard. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  27. ^ "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]