Tracks: Le Dome; Late Nite; Softly; The Theme; I’ll Be Waiting; I’ll Cover You; Rain’s Comin’ Down; Smoke of the Revolution; Inner Circles; Steps; Blackened Bacon
Best track: The Theme
Tracks to skip: I would tend to skip the cheesier vocal numbers like Softly, I’ll Be Waiting, Rain’s Comin’ Down
This is first official solo album from Journey’s guitarist and leader. He made a couple of albums with Jan Hammer in the early 80’s, but this was the first under his own name. Let’s see, some brief history leading up to this: Journey’s last album (at the time), Raised on Radio, came out in ’86; the band toured into ’87 and then broke up; the Greatest Hits album came out in ’88; and this came out in ’89. So, for all Journey fans this was the first bit of new product out there after Journey’s breakup. I’m sure it wasn’t very popular (since he’s not Steve Perry), but I got it once I knew it existed. Although it’s credited to Schon, a mention should go out to keyboardist Bob Marlette who co-wrote most of these tracks. There are of course guest stars on here, including Journey’s Jonathan Cain, Steve Smith, Randy Jackson (yes, the American Idol guy), future Journey drummer Deen Castronovo and on background vocals Sheryl Crow of all people.
If you know anything about Journey (other than “power ballads”) then you’ll know that Schon is a great guitar player and naturally his first solo album will have him playing great stuff all through it. He does some great stuff on here. I think my favorite part of the whole album is that one lick near the end of the title track. If you hear it you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’m obviously more partial to the instrumental tracks, but some of the vocal ones aren’t bad; I’ll Cover You for instance. Of course, his voice isn’t the greatest, but that’s not the focus of the album. His guitar playing is. And no, this isn’t an album of all guitar solos where he just shreds away like Yngwie Malmsteen or somebody. It’s all very tasteful and an essential part to the compositions. Going back to Marlette here, there are lots of keyboards on this album. For my tastes, it’s too much. It seems like Schon is always soloing over a keyboard bed. The keys are a bit too cheesy for me. The best song on here (besides the bit on Late Nite) is The Theme, which is pretty sweet. I think if you’re a fan of Neal Schon then you should pick up this album. It’s different from the smooth jazz tendencies of his later solo albums; lots more rock here. As a whole it’s not an amazing album, but it’s great to hear so much of his guitar playing.