NEAL SCHON – The Calling

NEAL SCHON - The Calling
  • 7.5/10
    NEAL SCHON - The Calling - 7.5/10


Release date: October 22, 2012

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At an age when most kids have their noses stuck in books studying for the most important exams of their lives, Neal Schon was leaving home to join Santana to receive an education that no school could ever give.

Having spent three years in Santana honing his craft, Schon left, along with Santana vocalist/keyboardist Gregg Rolie, to form Journey, a band that would over the next few years come to define the very essence of Melodic Rock and go on to sell a staggering 80 million albums in the process.

As well as recording with Santana and Journey, Schon has recording credits and hit albums with the likes of Bad English, Soul Sirkus, and Hardline as well as ten solo albums of his own under his belt.  No one can accuse Schon of being a slacker.

The Calling sees Schon moving as far away from his day job with Journey as you can imagine.  There’s no arena straddling anthems or lighter waving power ballads within a mile of the album as Schon flexes his considerable musical muscles in a myriad of instrumental directions, ably assisted by former Journey and hugely respected Jazz drummer, Steve Smith, and keyboard wizard Jan Hammer.

Title track “The Calling” will have guitar aficionados salivating as Schon lets fly with some burning fretwork that wouldn’t be out of place on the last couple of Joe Satriani albums, while “Carnival Jazz” heads in a more progressive Jazz driven direction.

Arguably “Six String Walz” is the closest Schon comes to Journey on the album with an opening that could conceivably have been developed further by the band into a classic ballad, but with Schon in the drivers seat it takes on a different complexion altogether, yet never loses that wonderful grasp of melody that runs through Schon’s blood.

“Irish Field”, however,  is disappointingly short.  Just as the wave of dreamy finger picked melodies washes over you, the tune ends.  What a shame Schon didn’t run a little further with this one as this could well have been the prelude for something really special.

Instrumental albums can at times seem a little one dimensional, however Schon neatly sidesteps such a trap by covering so much musical ground that you never stay in one place long enough to become bored. “Back Smash” with its thick groove, is a more driving Rocker while “Fifty Six” covers everything from Rock to Jazz with an Eastern flavor sprinkled over the top just for good measure and all in one song.

One of the album’s highlights is “Blue Rainbow Sky”; a beautiful Blues-based melody written in dedication to the much loved Ronnie James Dio.  Schon’s tasteful playing is a fitting tribute to such a music legend.

While The Calling may not appeal to the run of the mill Journey fan, for those looking for something altogether more adventurous or those wanting to hear a guitarist playing at the top of their game, then there is plenty here to delve into and discover.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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