Steve Vai’s collaboration with Johnny “Gash” Sombretto finally gets a wide release thirty years after it was recorded.
There are stories about lost albums, entire records that were recorded but never released. The reasons are sometimes contractual or esoteric. In the case of the Johnny “Gash” Sombretto and Steve Vai record, the reason it never came is tragic. Vai, an avid motorcycle enthusiast, met Sombretto through a friend around 1990. Steve put together a collection of songs over the years inspired by his love of motorcycles, and he convinced Sombretto to sing on the album. Sadly, before the music could be released, Johnny died in a motorcycle accident. Steve Vai put the recordings aside in 1998, but has now decided to let the world hear the music as a tribute to a singer most people never knew about.
“In The Wind” opens the door on goodtime hard-edged nineties rock and roll. Sombretto does sound the part, and I have no doubt that if events had taken a different turn and luck had been on his side, he could have had a long career as a front man. It is a hearty rock rollick that is hard to resist. “Busted” has a slightly heavier edge to it, a grittier feel. The melodic moments come fast and furious on this one, too. Vai’s lead breaks are short and sweet on these two, but the guitar picks up some with “Let’s Jam.” Not very much, though – the center of attention on this record is clearly Gash. “Woman Fever” closes side one on a bluesy note.
The flip side continues to walk the ground established by the first four songs. The record is fairly short, and the songs tend to cruise in a radio lane. “Danger Zone” is the pushiest piece, and “Flowers Of Fire” is the most contemplative, essentially a ballad. The album is worth hearing for its place in rock and roll history, and to listen to a singer who could have been big. Steve Vai’s presence is prominent throughout as well, of course, shining through on the compositional front and the always-impeccable guitar contributions. Recommended.
CD and digital versions are available on January 27th with vinyl to follow in February through Mascot Label Group’s Favored Nations Entertainment.
Steve Vai website, https://vai.com/
Favored Nations Entertainment, https://www.favorednations.com/
Mascot Label Group, https://usa-store.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/steve-vai
© Wayne Edwards