Neal Schon "The Calling" cd review.

22nd OCTOBER 2012

Here is Neal's thoughts on the 12 tracks.
1. The Calling
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards). This song has a cool
mixture of blues, eastern melodies, rockin’ riffs, and some slammin’ solo improvisation.
2. Carnival Jazz
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards). Igor plays great acoustic
piano on this track. To me it’s a cool mixture of rockin’ melody and jazz
3. Six String Waltz
Neal Schon (guitar, bass) Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards, orchestration). This track
has an old Journey feel to it.
4. Irish Field
This track features just two guitars and a little imagination of a beautiful open field. This one is
for M:)
5. Back Smash
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards, synthesizer solo). I
originally wanted to use a couple of vocalists on this track. It didn’t pan out so I turned it into an
6. Fifty Six
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (piano, orchestration), Jan Hammer
(Moog synthesizer solo). This track originally started out with a cool drum part that Steve Smith
came up. The track has an eastern flavor to it that I love, featuring electric sitar. This has an
early Journey prog rock vibe to it.
7. True Emotion
Neal Schon (guitar, bass), Steve Smith (drums), Igor Len (keyboards). This features a classical
blues vibe with a cool Hendrix-type vibe in the middle.
8. Tumbleweeds
This track features me on guitars and bass, Igor Len (orchestration), Steve Smith (drums), plus
special guest Jan Hammer playing Moog solos.
9. Primal Surge
This is a great song for sports channels! I play guitars and bass, Igor Len on keyboards and
Steve Smith on drums. I love the embodied melody in the song.
10. Blue Rainbow Sky
This track is a dedication to Ronnie James Dio the night he died outside my house - the sky was
blue and it’s that feeling that was the inspiration for the recording.
11. Transonic Funk
Just a cool funky jam with Steve Smith (drums) and Igor (keyboards).
12. Song Of The Wind II
This track was directly inspired by the first Song of the Wind off the first Santana Caravanseri
record. I recorded this with the guys in the last 30 minutes of our session.

"The Calling" is the follow up to 2005's "I On U"cd and was recorded from scratch in only 4 days at Berkeley's Fantasy studios and reunites Neal with his former Journey colleague Steve Smith and also on 2 tracks with Jan Hammer.

Pure instrumental albums can sometimes be a little difficult to get into without choruses or vocals to pick up and I feel this album at times does suffer a little to that degree.
There are so many styles involved from hard rock,jazz,funk,blues and  it feels like their were too many ideas involved with many improvised sections and time changes.

"The Calling"starts out with the title track and is a great start with its heavy riff and melodic solo that weaves its way through the track with some fiery fretwork reminiscent to some of the work on the latest Journey cd "Eclipse".Great to hear Steve Smith back in the saddle too.

"Carnival Jazz" has a jazz feel but really does meander and have way too many ideas involved and after repeated plays just does little for me.

"Six String Waltz"has the feel of a Journey ballad and is a beautiful melodic song which you could see Neal use in a live setting and improvise too.A great middle solo too.

"Irish Field" is a short intro piece and it would be interesting to see what or where the song could have developed into.Leaves you wanting more.

"Back Smash"is the heaviest song on the cd with a huge stomping riff which you could imagine being used as an entrance for a sporting event.Half way through it changes to a more melodic epic sounding with some acoustic guitar before getting back to the heavier spectrum.Excellent stuff.

"Fifty Six"has an eastern feel to it with some interesting rhythm changes to it and has a Jan Hammer Moog synthesizer solo too.

"True Emotion"is another ballad which you could imagine Arnel Pineda singing on.Great solo towards the end of the song.

"Tumbleweeds"again features Jan Hammer and is driven by Steve Smith with some outstanding rhythm work and Neal takes more of a back seat in a song with plenty of time changes.

"Primal Surge" starts with a tribal feel before Neal solo's across most of the song before a tribal ending.

"Blue Rainbow Sky" is a quite superb power ballad and is a dedication to Ronnie James Dio and about the colour of the sky on the night he passed away.A fitting tribute.

"Transonic Funk"is a real jam of a song which you can imagine them playing off each other in the studio and developing the song from there.Some of the song has Neal playing a different quite dirty sound which makes a change to his usual clear pitch.

"Song Of The Wind"ends the cd on a laid back jazzy blues number.

Dig deep in this cd and you will find a true legend of the scene still exploring new soundscapes and for that we should all be grateful.

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