Here are reviews of two recent rock recordings:

VARIOUS ARTISTS, "Five Ring Circus" (Flip Records). * * 1/2

The Olympics are over, but the spirit lives.

"Five Ring Circus" is a two-CD compilation of bands hailing from the peachy state of Georgia. And though some of the tracks are from unsigned locals, there are some notables such as R.E.M., Brute (which in reality is Widespread Panic and Vic Chesnutt), Hayride, Syd Straw and Magnapop.

From country to Southern rock to modern pop and funk, the songs on "Five Ring Circus" offer an eclectic view of the music scene down yonder.

Magnapop's "Voice Without a Sound" and R.E.M.'s "South Central Rain" are mixed with local Athen's band Grass' "Zoysia" and the Hot Burritos' "Rise Above It," among many others.

Whether or not you like all of the styles, "Five Ring Circus" is well rounded (though some of the songs maybe deserved to be skipped). And though the production varies from song to song, there is a communal feel to the collection.

It isn't an "official" release, but "Five Ring Circus" is a nice addition to any Olympic fan's collection.

STEVE VAI; "Fire Garden" (Epic). * * 1/2

Guitar wizard Steve Vai roars back and burns up the town with "Fire Garden."

Vai, a recognized ace who has performed with Frank Zappa, David Lee Roth and Alcatrazz, cranks up his amps throughout this two-part disc.

The first nine selections are instrumentals. Styles ranging from blasting rock ("There's a Fire In the House") to funk ("The Crying Machine") and exotica ("Bangkok") are wrapped around a technical guitar orchestration ("Fire Garden Suite").

The second half of the album adds vocals to Vai's guitar pyrotechnics. The blues of "Little Alligator" mix with mysticism on "All About Eve." Techno splices fill "Aching Hunger," while broad guitar ballads such as "Warm Regards" and "Brothers" balance out the rip and roar.

Are self-indulgent guitars on their way out? It depends who you ask. But if you want to be engulfed by soaring guitars and sampled effects, "Fire Garden" is for you. Like his mentor, Joe Satriani, Vai is a guitar master, and like a legendary predecessor, Jimi Hendrix, he plays the thing into the ground.