Neal Schon

Voice

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Perhaps when Neal Schon was playing with Journey and Bad English, he heard a lot of great pop songs that he couldn't play as part of those bands' repertoires. He established himself as a topnotch rock guitar instrumentalist with Beyond the Thunder, then went a little avant-garde with Electric World, and now goes about as commercial as possible doing blistering distorted electric versions of favorite hits like Mariah Carey's "Hero," Annie Lennox' "Why" (interestingly, pairing the guitar with synth vocals that approximate those of Lennox), "Killing Me Softly," "Everything I Do (I Do It for You)," "I Can't Make You Love Me," and the good old reliable "My Heart Will Go On." The few non-hits might best attract skeptics to the brilliantly performed project. "Caruso" is a crying ballad that finds Schon wailing almost mournfully over a lush cushion of ambience, while "Con Te Partiro" is a sweeping classical-flavored anthem replete with soaring synth washes and poignant melodic echoing guitar passages. Leon Russell's "A Song for You" is given a blues treatment with simple piano accompaniment behind the wild and wacky distortion. If you're a Schon fan or if you just want to hear instrumental versions of songs you love that are definitely not Muzak, this is a great CD. But since breaking through with the all-original Behind the Thunder, he hasn't quite recaptured the magic.

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