As I hit middle school I was knee deep in the hair metal hoopla, but once I made it into my freshman year of high school I’d begun to find more nuanced, less sexually ambiguous music to fall for. I’d been playing guitar for a little over two years once I hit 9th grade and my tastes in music had been steering towards guitar prowess in music. I no longer thought that CC Deville was a fabulous player. Or that Mick Mars was a killer guitar slinger. I’d discovered Shrapnel Records and their line up of 60 notes per second players. A good portion was just “meh”, but there were a few that showed real potential. But once I’d picked up Joe Satriani’s Surfing With The Alien that was it. This was the guy. Prodigious player with lightning fast chops, but he could actually write a catchy tune. He had melody lines that stood in for vocals. There was interesting things going on rhythmically, and he seemed to be pulling influences from all over the the place. He was a blues-based guy for sure, but he obviously dug music from all over the place. I think that was the point where I’d lost interest in “flavor of the month” bands that were featured monthly in the music rags I followed.
By the time I’d bought Alien it had been out for about a year. There was no sign of a new record coming from Satriani anytime soon, so I went back and bought his first LP Not Of This Earth, which lived up to the title. It was pretty out there, showcasing his proficient skills and ability to get weird when he wanted to. But in-between Surfing With The Alien and his 1990 Flying In A Blue Dream there was the short but sweet Dreaming #11, an EP that touted one new song and three live tracks recorded at the California Theater in San Diego, California on June 11, 1988. Dreaming #11 came out in November of 1988, not long before the Thanksgiving holiday which gave me a nice 4-day weekend to really dig into it(I’d also bought the debut Winger album around the same time, too. Don’t judge me.)
At the time this one was nice, but at only 4 tracks with three being older live songs it didn’t leave a lasting impression. The one new song, “The Crush Of Love” was stunning, though. It was this beautifully put together piece of melody-driven guitar rock. It had a nice push to it, with an amazing melody line that stayed in your head long after the song ended. I can remember a few months after it was released I would hear the song being played on the semi-local rock station out of Niles, Michigan 95.3 WAOR. Hearing that on the radio I sort of felt like Satriani was being vindicated or something. He was this guy that I felt needed to be pulled out of guitardom obscurity and have a mainstream audience get into him. This was the kind of song that could’ve been the theme music for anything, really. It was just a damn catchy tune. The three live tracks were pretty stellar sounding, too. Surfing With The Alien’s “Ice Nine” and “Memories” were played to perfection by Satch and the rhythm section of bassist Stu Hamm and drummer Jonathan Mover. The last live track was Not Of This Earth’s “Hordes Of Locusts”, which was the best track on that album. I can remember learning the main riff and playing it ad nauseum. It’s a cool song, but not on par with the Alien tunes.
I think what I remember most about this Satriani EP was riding with my dad in his truck and listening to it. My dad had heard a couple of Satriani’s songs on the aforementioned WAOR and had become a fan. He quite liked “The Crush Of Love” so we’d listen to it often. He’d play it in the garage boom box as well when he’d be out washing the cars or working on projects(he would later take a shine to my Suicidal Tendencies cassette Controlled By Hatred/Feel Like Shit…Deja Vu.)
Whenever I could find something for my dad and I to bond over I’d relish it. He was a sports guy. He played football, basketball, and ran track in high school. He had the old letterman sweater to prove it. So when I hit 7th grade he was excited for me to try out for football, which I did and made the team. But about a week into it(well before the first game) I quit. It wasn’t my thing. I’m not a sports fan and never had been. I know he was disappointed I didn’t give it more of a shot, but I think he understood. After a year or so of guitar lessons he saw how much I enjoyed playing and how good I was getting. He saw I’d found my “thing” and I believe he’d become genuinely happy for me. So when he was liking music I was liking, well it genuinely meant a great deal to me.
Today I pulled out Dreaming #11(I found a copy online for pretty cheap awhile back) and gave it a spin. It’s still not a substantial release by Joe, but “The Crush Of Love” is still a hell of a track. It’s a poised, catchy tune that holds up incredibly well. And it still reminds me of my dad.