JASON BECKER – Collection

JASON BECKER - Collection
  • 9/10
    JASON BECKER - Collection - 9/10


Shrapnel Records
Release date: November 3, 2008

User Review
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There are pictures of a very young Jason Becker with a guitar in his hands. Other kids that age are usually holding onto their GI Joe’s, trucks, race cars, etc. Where did this inspiration come from, one might ask? Does it really matter where it came from… isn’t the end result what counts in the long run? In this case the end result was Jason Becker transforming into a guitar virtuoso.

Jason’s career began at age 16 by joining forces with another guitar virtuoso Marty Friedman and forming the Prog Metal/Neo-Classical Metal/Speed Metal/Heavy Metal band Cacophony in 1986. They remained intact until 1989 when Friedman went on to join Megadeth and Becker on to join the David Lee Roth band in 1990. Becker left Cacophony in 1989 to pursue a solo career, meanwhile releasing his first solo album Perpetual Burn in 1988. Following up with his sophomore release was Perspective in 1995. In between that time and now Jason put out two albums that were instrumental in nature for the most part and contained mostly unreleased demo tracks and alternate versions of songs already written but later revised and published. These were Raspberry Jams (1999) and Blackberry Jams (2003).

Unfortunately Jason’s career with David Lee Roth was short lived. He joined the band at a young age of 20 as luck would have it when Roth was looking for a new guitarist to replace Steve Vai, who departed to join Whitesnake. While being part of the band during the 1990-1991 timeframe he worked on the A Little Ain’t Enough album but wasn’t able to tour with the rest of the band because of his sudden illness and diagnosis. Jason was told he had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and had three years to live. He somehow managed to finish the recording but his body became too weak to play guitar let alone stand and move around on stage.

Jason Becker eventually lost his ability to speak and can only communicate through movements with his eyes. He remains mentally sharp and focused and with the aid of a computer, he continues to compose. He left a message for his fans on the back of his Perspective album. Fortunately for him his medical condition has remained stable since 1997 and has even begun to feel slightly better along with some weight gain since then.

Since he is unable to play guitar anymore, he has asked several of his close friends and fellow guitarists and colleagues to assist him in releasing his latest piece of work titled Collection. He has asked Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Michael Lee Firkins, Marty Friedman, Steve Hunter, and Greg Howe to assist him with his latest release by playing the guitar parts that he hears in his head as he continues to compose and do what he loves the most-make music. There are as many as three guitarists at times on some of his latest tracks found on the Collection album. All of the chosen artists shine and are on top of their game-just listen and check it out for yourselves.

The music found on this album is special. Not only can Jason still hear music in his head and transform it onto this format for listening, the music is still incredible. Listening to the entire album many times over, it is still mesmerizing each time. There are numerous harmonies, arpeggios, riffs and other subtle nuances throughout the album to make any music lover satisfied. Each new listen is a thrill to some extent. There are three new songs on here in addition to some older recordings (some of which have never been released to this date) that feature the artists mentioned earlier. On top of those extremely talented musicians on guitar you can find Dan Alvarez on piano, organ, keyboards, rhodes, arrangements, drum programming; the Bissonette brothers Matt and Gregg handling bass and drums (percussion also) respectively; a wide variety of vocalists and other musicians playing many odd instruments to bring all this together.

There are three tunes off Jason’s Perpetual Burn (1988) album that really showcases Jason’s abilities as a guitarist. These are “Opus Pocus,” “Altitudes,” and “Air.” His playing is powerful, succinct, clean, and amazingly quick considering the pieces he plays especially on “Air.” “Altitudes” has Jason playing some of the nicest sounding guitar and this track may be the highlight of the album without a doubt. Not only does this track have Jason playing the six-string, he also handles the bass and keyboards to boot. It is easy to see why he became an overnight sensation in a way by his first solo release. His second solo release Perspective (1995) highlights four tracks. These are “Rain,” “Higher,” “End of the Beginning,” and “Meet Me in the Morning.” This last one is a Blues tune by Bob Dylan that should make some followers of that genre happy. The opening track for this album is “Rain” and right from the start the sound effects are so good you think that you are caught in a rain storm. Then Jason’s guitar kicks in with the most beautiful sound. It is almost as if a cross between Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are playing. It is a real nice tune but a little short at a hair over three minutes. “Higher” is a very interesting tune in itself. It sounds like something that belongs in church. There are six different vocalists ranging from alto to soprano with a variety of solos and vocal arpeggios. If vocals are your thing, this will be a treat.

There is even something off of Cacophony’s Go Off album titled “Images” and at one point has a Dire Straits vibe to it. This comes from Jason and Marty Friedman’s Speed Metal days even though they have things toned down a bit on this one. A nice surprise is a tune from David Lee Roth’s A Little Ain’t Enough aptly titled “It’s Showtime” and Jason kicks butt on this tune. A definite highlight of the bunch. The three new tracks on the album are “River of Longing,” “River of Longing (Reprise),” and “Electric Prayer For Peace.” Two more surprises on the album come in “River of Longing (Reprise),” not only because of Steve Vai and Marty Friedman’s appearances but because of the, way too short, bass solo that Matt Bissonette lays down. Maybe you have to be a fan of the bass, and if you are you’ll understand, but it sounds really, really nice… something not heard too often by Matt-good job guy! The other is “Electric Prayer For Peace.” This track has Joe Satriani guesting and any fan of Joes knows that this is all that need be said on the subject. Also in this tune you have an Indian vocalist which adds something unique to the tune. Then you have some different and interesting instruments being used such as the table, dhol, dobro, crunch guitar, and Tibetan long horn. Wow-what was Jason thinking to be able to come up with this. It is quite genius after you hear it for yourself.

That’s more or less the things you need to know in a nutshell. If you are a fan of Instrumental, good guitar work, or Jason for that matter, please check this album out. There is no way that a true fan of good music will be disappointed in any way.


  • George Fustos

    George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he's really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being "the best band out there today."

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