Sinewy slinger Steve Vai is back at it with, yup, a concept album that he claims is part "of a multi-layered menagerie of vignettes based on the amplified mental exaggerations of a truth-seeking madman who sees the world oh, never mind." I know Vai's a helluva guitarist who revolutionized 80s metal with his unique style, but just because he's read Steppenwolf doesn't make him Hermann Hesse. If this half-baked concept proves anything, it's that Mr. Vai should, to paraphrase Zappa, just "shut up 'n' play [his] guitar." The best moments here are when he does just that, and if he's not breaking any new ground, it's only cuz he built the freakin' palace. Still, his high-concept songs and vocals make me wonder if Stevie realized Spinal Tap was a comedy and not a Behind The Music special.
Steve Vai & the Breed play Massey Hall Saturday (April 2).