What does an album titled “Surfing With The Alien” and featuring the Silver Surfer on its cover got to do with surfing? Nothing at all.
“Surfing With The Alien” is an instrumental rock guitar record by American guitarist Joe Satriani. The album showcases ten tracks and was released on October 15, 1987.
Satriani’s second work features the famous Silver Surfer on the front cover. The artwork was taken from the first issue of the comic book with the same, launched in 1982.
The artist, John Byrne, said he never gave his permission to use the image and was never paid for its use, even though the album’s back cover lists a Marvel Characters, Inc. copyright statement.
Originally, Satriani was going to call the album “Lords of Karma,” after one of the songs. But after hearing from a British journalist that that title could ruin the listener’s perception of the record, the musician decided to change it.
The guitarist called his label telling them that he was going to rename the album’s title to “Surfing With The Alien,” so that people know “I’ve got a sense of humor.”
Although Joe Satriani had never heard of a comic character named Silver Surfer, he approved the suggestion made by designer Jim Kozlowski, who used to be called Silver Surfer during his DJ years in Boston.
Kozlowski obtained a license from Marvel, and the record company used the image on the album’s cover.
Despite its electrifying and thunderous sound, and imaginary stellar surfer on the cover, “Surfing With The Alien” is not, in any way, connected to surf music or instilled by any other surf-related influence.
The budget for the album was $13,000, but it went on to sell more than one million copies, becoming the best-selling record of Joe Satriani’s career.
The highly technical guitar virtuoso worked and toured with some of the world’s most famous artists and bands, including Mick Jagger, Deep Purple, Sammy Hagar, Alice Cooper, Steve Vai, and Chad Smith.
“Surfing With The Alien” is not an album for all ears, but you can’t deny the fact that Joe Satriani’s mastery of the electric guitar produced a unique, fast-paced, and original work that could very well serve as a soundtrack to contemporary surf movies.