Leftovers now opens with the previously unreleased "#?@! Yourself," a song with five minutes of profanity and hot guitar solo at the end. Funny? Well, a couple stabs at the establishment and grunge rock are. Sophomoric? More so than Beavis and Butthead, less so than South Park. Next is "So Happy," a delightful song where vocalist Laurel Fishman's utterances about happiness are more annoying than a Laverne and Shirley rerun. Vai makes matters worse when he doubles her pitches on guitar. In its own way, it's actually quite fun.

Though Leftovers has the expected stunt guitar work, a couple of tracks are disturbing. "Details at 10" is a mediocre song, notable only for the "newscast" in the middle where a reporter announces the brutal beating, rape and murder of two preteens and the necrophilia that subsequently ensued. Uplifting. As for "Little Pieces of Seaweed," Vai states in the liner notes that it was an experiment of a poetry and orchestration, which I guess explains the following lyrics: "Eh, your body looked like a road map, and my best friend got so confused, he thought you were doubting Thomas and put his fingers in your holes that I left there after I beat you up with an ax." Art? Yeah, bad art.

Flex-able Leftovers contains great musicianship, and back in college I thought the songs were cool because they were so radical and Vai is such a guitar wizard. Today the radical stuff sounds like incompetent satire -- shock for shock's sake. There's nothing ennobling or challenging about that, either, even if Vai's guitar playing is technically demanding. That said, Leftovers has some hot instrumentals and really cool production. Vai fans will eat this up, but eventually this novelty gets put on the shelf after only a couple of listens.

-- Paul J. MacArthur

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