Racer X, “Extreme Live”, by Grant Stoner


Lest you all think I’m some ECM jazz snob, here is my album pic for this month, Racer X, Extreme Volume Live, Shrapnel records, 1988 vinyl.

This is the 80’s at its decadent best. Pure, good spirited hard rock, with the most outrageous guitar playing you’ve ever heard. Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet fully tearing it up, playing insane harmony leads that dual guitar bands of the past only dreamed about. Paul would famously break out his cordless Makita drill outfitted with a bit with guitar picks to play extra speedy licks. John Alderete on bass, Scott Travis on drums, and Jeff Martin on vocals round out this truly virtuoso ensemble.

Mike Varney of Shrapnel records was famous for debuting wunderkind new guitar players, a new breed with technique that would make Eddie VanHalen shy away. Some disappeared into the netherworld, but some went on, like Paul Gilbert who went on to more game (and money) with Mr. Big.

The sound? Well pretty good, but not great. Compressed of course which was normal at the time, but you can hear all instruments clearly. Not bad for a live recording.

Recorded at the Country Club in Reseda, California, the album is a great reminder of how fun it was raising your fists in the air and shouting “Yeaaahhh!” Of course it’s not quite like being there . . . which I was . . . for the recording . . . on my birthday no less.  Also available is Extreme Volume 2 from the same shows. So dive in and bang yer head!

San Francisco Audiophile Society

San Francisco Audiophile Society