RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Neal Schon – The Calling


Rating: B

Neal Schon, most famous as the guitarist for Journey, went into Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, California and in four days recorded all of the guitar and bass parts for his new instrumental album The Calling. He even produced the album.

Joining Neal in the studio was ex-Journey drummer Steve Smith and pianist Igor Len. Special guesting on the album is keyboard wizard Jan Hammer, reunited with Schon from their days together in the group Schon & Hammer.

Schon was feeling creative during those 96 hours in Berkeley as The Calling is stuffed full of guitar solos. The music is complex and powerful. The title track will catch your attention and the entire album keeps you focused. Schon and his band capture many emotions, ranging from passion to angst to fun to sadness. His solos cry out when needed and swoon with celebration when called for. The lightening fast licks are there, but there is a lot of melody going on as well.

Smith is a talented drummer and he flows with ease making hard passages sound easy throughout The Calling. Hammer is the star of the show [aside from Schon, obviously] as his Hammond solos are the stuff legends are made of. Len, then, is best described as silent star of the album, as his acoustic piano weaves many of the emotions described above into the songs.

At the end of the day, this ain’t Journey, HSAS or even Schon and Hammer. It is simply Neal Schon playing the hell out of his guitar.

Tracklisting: The Calling; Carnival Jazz; Six String Waltz; Irish Field; Back Smash; Fifty Six (56); True Emotion; Tumbleweeds; Primal Surge; Blue Rainbow Sky; Transonic Funk; Song Of The Wind II.

By Jeb Wright