Album review: Neal Schon, I on U (2005)


By Steve Newton

Yeah, I know, everybody hates Journey. Even I lost interest in them after 1978’s Infinity album. But don’t take that much-maligned band’s corporate-rock shenanigans in the ’80s out on ex-Journey guitarist Neal Schon. Don’t forget that he made a helluva lotta fine music with Santana before providing the hated riffs on bogus Journey tracks like “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'”.

Schon has definitely acquitted himself wonderfully with his string of six solo albums, his latest one being for Steve Vai’s superb Favored Nations label. On I on U, Schon uses his trusty black Les Paul and a seemingly boundless knack for hooks and melodies to concoct all manner of inspiring, soothing, and invigorating instrumentals; think Joe Satriani at his mellowest.

Most of the tunes were written with keyboardist/sequencer Igor Len, and there’s a lot of keyboards on here but their layers never seriously hinder Schon’s sparkling fretwork. Having ace session drummer Omar Hakim on most of the tracks helps as well.

On each of I on U‘s 12 tracks Schon creates the kind of joyful, uplifting electric-guitar music you just might want to have running in the background during the birth of your first child. It worked for me.

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