"Some of us are going to play faster than others. Hitting the right notes and getting your technique right is so much more important than speed." - Joe Satriani.
Satriani's mastery of the guitar is akin to Wayne Gretzky's mastery of hockey - or Michael Jordan's mastery of basketball.
Sure, Hendrix was more of an innovator, David Gilmour may be more soulful with his bends, Yngwie Malmsteen may be faster, Jimmy Page may have been a better riffsmith; the last fifty years have seen hundreds of great guitar players do lots of amazing things. But when it comes down to it, no one can match Satch.
His melodic, emotional touch is beautiful; he can shred with the best of them; his wah-pedal-use is unparalleled... but most importantly - Satch is a brilliant composer. This guy's catalogue of published music, spanning 20 years now, has a staggering number of great, great songs. People focus so much on his guitar skills that the quality of his music is sometimes overlooked. Listeners who are turned off by screeching guitars and blinding leads can marvel at the beauty of songs like "Midnight", Tears in the Rain", or "Day At The Beach (New Rays From an Ancient Sun)".
I saw him in concert last night at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. The guy is 48 years old, and as energetic a musical performer as you'll see this year. The highlight of the night was the jam of "Searching" from the latest CD, "Is There Love in Space?". I'm still reeling.... About three hours of music and it felt way too short. Don't pass up the opportunity to see the world's best guitar player the next time Joe Satriani does a show in your town.