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"WILD YEARS-THE MUSIC & MYTH OF TOM WAITS" BY JAY S. JACOBS

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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > Neal Schon

MUSIC REVIEWS

Neal Schon-i on U (Favored Nations)

No one could accuse Neal Schon of laziness.  In an axe-slinging career that has lasted almost 35 years now (not bad for a guy whose artist bio says he's in his early 50s), Schon is best known as the long-time guitarist for Journey.  Before that, he was a member of the classic early 70s lineup of Santana. 

He has also been ubiquitous in several supergroups, including late 80s hit-makers Bad English (with John Waite), Schon & Hammer (with Jan Hammer), HSAS (with Sammy Hagar, Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve), Abraxas Pool (with former Santana and Journey bandmates Gregg Rolie and Shrieve) and the current Soul Sirkus (which had included Hagar and Michael Anthony before they recently returned to Van Halen).

Somewhere along the line, he has also made the time to record some solo albums, of which i on U is his sixth.  Released on Favored Nations, the label of fellow fretman Steve Vai, i on U is an old fashioned guitar rock-out reminiscent of the work of Joe Satriani or Vai.  There are no vocals and no frills, this is just about some old-time guitar noodling.

Musically, Schon strays into many of the styles and genres that he has touched upon before, and a few that he hasn't.  "It Will Happen" has a bit of an exotic jazzy worldbeat feel to it, while "Highland" is pure soaring power chord blazing.  In "Urban Angel" Schon gets a little funkier, laying down a track reminiscent of an early 70s blaxploitation theme and yet at the same time surprisingly delicate. 

He echoes the Latin feel of his Santana days in "Moon Dust," while "Taken There" has more of a new wave feel to it before hitting on a shredding solo.  The album closer "Father" is a sweet and soulful ballad that shuts the album down on a high note.

The only complaint that I really have is one that is pretty much standard with all-instrumental guitar jam albums.  No matter how well done or diverse it is, it all starts to sound somewhat alike.  Without any vocals to capture the attention, rock music can sometimes become a bit like musical wallpaper -- pretty, but not something you're going to spend a lot of time pondering.  There is a lot of talent on display here, it's a shame it may fade into the background.  (3/05)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2005 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved.  Posted March 1, 2005.

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Copyright 2005 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved.  Posted March 1, 2005.