Joe Satriani – ‘What Happens Next’ (Sony Music/Legacy) Print
Written by David O'Neill   
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 04:00

Joe Satriani artworkThis is Satriani’s 15th studio album, and follows on from the Chickenfoot collaboration, with Glenn Hughes joining Chad Smith in backing the guitar maestro up.


There are 12 tracks on the album and so it naturally follows that, given the time of year, he would consider promoting it through his 12 days of what happens next podcast on his Facebook page/website. Whilst it’s a bit cliché, I can see why he would do this. It gives a bit of preview to the album release and is likely to generate as much commentary as the album is going to on its release.


‘Energy’ is the first track and it is just that, a full on energetic upbeat Satriani instrumental driven along by the drum bass combination of Smith and Hughes and multiple riffs and flicks typical of Satriani. It does remind me of ‘Surfing With The Alien’ in parts, but it drags you into the album at a hell of a lick.


‘Catbot’ has a growling Hughes bass line throughout that is superbly complemented by the playing of both Smith and Satriani. Having listened to the aforementioned podcast after hearing the track, I can see where the distorted guitar wailing is coming from, a maniacal robotic feline. ‘Cherry Blossoms’ is influenced by multiple visits to Japan and you can see the cherry blossoms falling in the guitar playing in your mind’s eye. This is supported by the Tenko-style drum beats and the harmonic guitar playing.


‘Thunder High On The Mountain’ has an ethereal initial feel to it, but then the thunder kicks in from all three musicians before restoring the atmospheric light-headedness of Satriani’s solo playing and the return to the initial riff that becomes a visceral gut wrenching drum bass end overplayed by simply effective guitar playing. ‘Righteous’ is a track that Satriani says he sent to Bryan Adams to put vocals on at some point, but Adams felt it was too good to spoil by doing that and so it ended up on this album. I have to agree: I can’t see where any vocals would do anything but spoil it. It’s a lazy journey through jazz funk styles.


‘Smooth Soul’ has a definite Santana influence (which is also expressed in the podcast). It is one of those late night lights out headphones on kind of songs with totally ineffective air guitar and pouty faced playing along. My favourite track on the album, but then I like Santana so it’s a no brainer.


Then to a complete change of mood and ‘Headrush’, a full tilt run through some superb guitar solos once again impeccably backed by both Hughes and Smith; but, I have to say Chad Smith edges the performance on this track for me. ‘Looper’ is a bit of surprise for both Satriani and will be to his myriad of guitar fans for him using a looper pedal, but then why not? It’s a tool like any other delay/distortion/wah wah pedal that can add another layer to an expert practitioner of the fretboard art. The title track, ‘What Happens Next’, is another languid demonstration of three superb musicians playing in perfect harmony and synchronicity with each other, picking up and dropping the beat and rhythms at the most effective moments to display each other’s art form demonstrated best at the final outro to the track.


‘Super Funky Badass’ is just that - super funky and BAAD AASS. It reminds me of The Average White Band track ‘Pick Up The Pieces’ in style, but not content - a head-nodding rhythmic gyration through jazz funk. It is also the longest track on the album, at seven minutes plus. ‘Invisible’ kicks off with a bit a Deep Purple ‘Burn’ guitar/bass/drum intro before all three exchange individual sections over occasional keyboard, and the continued power of all three exponents of this artform continues much in the same vein as the rest of the album.


The final track, ‘Forever And Ever’, starts with a bit of a Hendrix feel to the opening guitar sequence, another of Satriani’s guitar influences. This is mixed up by repeated Santana-style guitar soloing. The final riff is pure Hendrix however.


Having only heard several of Satriani’s tracks on the radio, I have to confess to becoming a convert with this album. This is going to be another artist to add to my collection both physically in CD format and virtually on my Spotify playlist. Its an excellent album that I would have to give 9/10 to, if I were asked.


‘What Happens Next’ is released on 12 January. You can get your copy HERE.


Joe Satriani plays the following dates with G3, featuring John Petrucci and Uli Jon Roth:


Tuesday 24 April – Southend, Cliffs Pavilion

Wednesday 25 April – London, Eventim Apollo

Thursday 26 April – Bristol, Colston Hall

Friday 27 April – Manchester, Apollo

Sunday 29 April – Portsmouth, Guildhall

Monday 30 April – Birmingham, Symphony Hall


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