Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Record Vault – Jason Becker

He came into my life because of all the ads Shrapnel Records and Mike Varney used to run in the guitar mags. But at that point in time I still didn’t commit to purchasing any music.

Jason Becker and Marty Friedman were in Cacophony together. In 1989 Friedman left to join Megadeth and Becker started to pursue a solo career. Of course by Friedman being in Megadeth, his Cacophony days with Becker were mentioned so it got me interested to check it out. But I still didn’t commit.

Becker then joined the DLR band, replacing Steve Vai and he went to work on new music which would become the “A Little Ain’t Enough” album. This got me interested enough to commit.

While recording the album, Becker began to feel a “lazy limp” in his left leg and numbness in his forearms.

After getting himself checked he was diagnosed with ALS otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and was given three to five years to live.

He managed to finish the DLR album, which was released in 1991, and the ALS gradually crippled his body and speech by 1997 but not his mind. He is still alive today and uses a computer to communicate with people via eye movements and to compose new music.

The “Perpetual Burn” album is a pretty big statement for a young 18 year old but then again, the 80s was the era of the shredders and every new guy on the scene had to have all the tools of a seasoned pro and more. Just look at Zakk Wylde.

“Altitudes” starts off with the keys playing chords and a pretty emotive solo. At the 1.25 mark it moves to a clean tone section which continues the emotion and the melody.

The guitar hero spotlight is from the 2 minute mark with a lot of string skipping, fast alternative picking and sweep picking.

The solo from 3.46 is a like a hard rock Vito Brattain style solo.

The title track “Perpetual Burn” has a lot of classical references. Even though Becker was not influenced by Malmsteen, it sounds like a Malmsteen song.

“Air” is just keys and guitar and then just guitar. It’s based around a classical movement.

“Temple Of The Absurb” is a progressive metal gem. It could have appeared on a thrash metal release from Metallica or Megadeth or Testament or a Fates Warning release or even a Dream Theater release. It has this Mercyful Fate influence which I like, and this modern neo classical Rainbow vibe. It’s no surprise that Friedman guests on this song.

The closer “Opus Pocus” has this major key melody which I like and it remains with me long after the song is finished.

His actual recording career is short because of his illness and it’s more of an instrumental nature with the guitarist is in the spotlight. But if you want to hear how he writes songs for a band setting, check out “Its Showtime” and “Drop In The Bucket” from the DLR album, “A Lil Ain’t Enough”. You will like em. Trust me.

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2 thoughts on “The Record Vault – Jason Becker

  1. Great post! I was not really aware of Jason, but did know the DLR work just didn’t know him. What a sad story, but at least he made some music before it took his abilities away. I am going to check him out. Thanks.

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