Monday, September 7, 2015

Neal Schon - 1997 "Electric World"

Electric World is a double album by Neal Schon. It was released in 1997 on Higher Octave. In a hard rock style, the album is influenced by Carlos Santana.

Despite its overly ambitious two-CD length, Electric World is a step forward for guitarist Neal Schon. Two years before Electric World, he returned to solo recording with the acoustic Beyond the Thunder, which showed promise, but was generally unfocused. He may still meander on Electric World, but it's a richer listen. Essentially, the record is a fusion exercise in the vein of Carlos Santana, which shouldn't be a surprise, since Schon spent much of the mid-'90s playing with the legendary guitarist. There's less meat to Schon's music than Santana's, since he can't resist slick, polished production and plays like a session musician, but there's no denying that Electric World is one of his most accomplished efforts to date.

Joe Cefalu of Guitar Player Magazine explains, "For nearly three decades, Neal Schon and his guitar have generated an unrelenting lexicon of heartfelt, soul-stirring music. Over the years, the relationship between the two has grown increasingly vital and musically fruitful. On this, his second HIgher Octave release, Neal broadens his musical focus on a global scale and creates a myriad of soundscapes as vastly inspired as they are diverse - welcome to Neal Schon's "Electric World"." On this all-instrumental release, the guitarist powerfully illustrates his ability to paint musical images as vivid as those of any vocalist. Guest musicians include Michael Carabello, Zakir Hussain, Alphonso Johnson, Igor Len, Walfredo Reyes Jr., Steve Smith and Kit Walker. Now, this "Electric World" is yours to explore.

This is a truly incredible record, ranking with the top fusion albums of all time. And it's a double album no less. Neal Schon is a gifted composer and guitarist both. I've had this record for years and am always amazed when I come back to it. This is not what one would expect from a member of a pop band, which perhaps explains some of the opinions of reviewers who were disappointed. If you're into more sophisticated primarily instrumental genres (classical and/or jazz and especially jazz fusion), you'll probably love this record.

Track listing:

Disc 1
1.  Night Spirit 
2.  Nyc 
3.  Highway 1 
4.  Electric World 
5.  Gypsy Dance 
6.  My Past Life 
7.  Memphis Voodoo 
8.  Breaking Waves 
9.  Midnight Express 
10.  Living Desert 
11.  The Dragon 

Disc 2
12.  Medicine Man 
13.  The Emperor 
14.  Emerald Forest 
15.  One and Only 
16.  High Mileage 
17.  Scram 
18.  Mandolin Sky 
19.  Eye on the World 
20.  All Our Yesterdays 
21.  A Prayer for Peace


Neal Schon guitars
Igor Len bass, keyboards, synth drums
Alphonso Johnson bass
Walfredo Reyes drums
Michael Carabello percussion
Steve Smith drums
Kit Walker keyboards
Zakir Hussein percussion

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