Just a city boy, guitar virtuoso Neal Schon has sold over 40 million records with the kings of AOR Journey, with the single 'Don't Stop Believin'' now being a household smash everywhere.
Moving away from his day job in Journey Schon has recorded an instrumental album, 'The Calling', his ninth solo affair including the two he made with snyth wizard Jan Hammer who also features on a couple of tracks here and is best remembered for the theme tune to 'Miami Vice'.
Before Journey became the monster of the radio airwaves with their slick commercial hits, Schon was a young teenager playing on a couple of albums for Santana before forming Journey who at first were an experimental prog jazz outfit before the soulful voice of Steve Perry came along, and that is where Schon's heart lies - in the very heart of cosmic jazz.
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For this album he is also joined by former Journey sticksman Steve Smith who plays in a jazz band himself these days. When I say jazz, I don't mean Kenny Ball And Friends, but the sort of thing that Jeff Beck likes to strum around the house to whilst doing the hoovering.
Whilst many muso fans wee their pants over the delights of Steve Vai and others, some may forget that Neal Schon is one of the best that's out there and he really lets rip on this album in a collage of musical landscapes ranging from the heavy to the light.
Schon and Smith work well together and the chemistry there is still pretty explosive, and whilst later day Journey albums sound a little polished to keep up with fans expectations, I do wish Schon would incorporate some of his workouts on 'The Calling' back into the sound of Journey just like he did on earlier Journey albums such as 'Infinity' and 'Evolution' and even the rocking classic of 'Escape' because that is what's missing in today's commercial music scene... good songs played by top level musicians who've learnt their trade from the intricate expressions of jazz.
Igor Len provides the majority of the keyboard work in what is essential a power trio as Schon plays all the bass parts too. Not the sort of album your girlfriend will ask you play on repeated listens but a great album to blow away the cobwebs to now and again and a great insightful look into the real beauty of Neal Schon's playing ability.
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