"Maximum Security" is a great starter, too - probably my favorite neoclassical album. It completely blew my mind when I first listened to it - "Oh my god, you CAN play honest to god melodies in neoclassical??"
I am a huge fan of his, and the 3 i think are most essential are:
Maximum Security - it's already been talked about
Evolution - this is more fusion, though with elements of neo-classical.
Chromaticity - way more prog
These 3 give you a very brief overview of his career and, well, evolution as a guitarist. most of his albums are pretty good too, though i recommend you stay away from 'freedom to fly' and 'master of paradise.' otherwise though, it's interesting to listen to his albums in order and hear how his genre shifts around a bit, but no matter what he's playing, he sounds 100% like himself.
I just listened to "Freedom To Fly" a little while ago, and now i remember why it is my favorite MacAlpine album.
A lot of the tunes have a bluesy, straight-out rocking edge to them, and the ballads ("Champion" and "Capistrano") are my 2 favorite compositions by him.
I don't care for his later, more "fusiony" albums- but that's just a personal preference.
Can't argue with "Edge Of Insanity" and "Maximum Security" though- those albums kick major ass!!!!
i got "premonition" from my teacher and was really impressed because he'll shred and, believe it or not, slow down a bit, and create a nice melody. unlike that one guy, you know, starts with y ends in ngwie. oops.
o yea, i heard some planet x and that stuff was great too. going from all these different recommendations, i'd just pick a name out of a hat, its gotta be good!
Thanks for all your recomendations guys. I am currently getting into 'Maximum Security'. hoping to get more soon. I can't wait, on Oct 20th I'm off to see Vai, MacAlpine, Weiner, Sheehan in wolverhampton! I'm preping myself up on all of their music (Vai needs no introduction to me!)