Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Eric Johnson - 1990 "Ah Via Musicom"

Ah Via Musicom is the third studio album by guitarist Eric Johnson, released in 1990 through Capitol Records. The album reached No. 67 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remained on that chart for 60 weeks. All four singles charted on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, with three of them being top 10 hits: "High Landrons" at No. 31, "Righteous" at No. 8, "Cliffs of Dover" at No. 5 and "Trademark" at No. 7. "Cliffs of Dover" went on to win the Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1992 Grammys.

"Cliffs of Dover" has endured as Johnson's best-known song and is a mainstay at his concerts. It was ranked No. 17 in a list of "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" by Guitar World magazine, No. 34 in a list of "50 greatest guitar tones of all time" by Guitarist magazine, and remains a highly regarded staple within the guitar community.

Several other songs are dedicated to fellow guitarists: Johnson stated in a March 1990 interview with Guitar Player magazine that "Steve's Boogie" is dedicated to Austin-based pedal steel guitarist Steve Hennig, while "Song for George" is dedicated to an 80-year-old guitarist friend of his named George Washington. Furthermore, "East Wes" is dedicated to jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, and takes its name from the 1966 album East-West by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

After being overlooked on his debut, Tones, guitarist Eric Johnson burst onto the airwaves with the surprising hit "Cliffs of Dover." Armed with excellent chops and a clear tone, Johnson took a tired formula and made it sound fresh again. Despite his talents on the fret board, he plays with great restraint and chose to explore a variety of styles, including rock, pop, blues, country, and jazz. While his singing is not quite as interesting as his guitar playing, it is not obtrusive and is at times quite pleasing. This recording has reached near-classic proportions within the guitar community.

Everyone from Carole King to Cat Stevens borrowed Eric's electrifying licks, but he finally got his own moment in the sun when this LP hit in '90. A masterwork of heavy rock fusion (with excursions into country and blues), it topped many a chart that year and went multi-platinum; it now returns on 180-gram audiophile vinyl, mastered from the original tapes. Includes Cliffs of Dover; Desert Rose; Trademark; Righteous; Forty Mile Town ; the title track, and more six-string heroics!

Eric Johnson is a guitar virtuoso. He is mostly known for his proficiency on the electric guitar. His playing style would tend to put him in the category of guitar "shredder". Eric is not from the pure "shredder" school where a lot of the playing consists of running various muscial scales at blistering speed. I rate Eric's use of shredding as being more melodic and soulful. He uses it when it fits the context of the song or passage being played. In other words, he doesn't make his living shredding, but it is a tool he uses when appropriate. I would consider this CD to be his signature CD. Nice blend of instrumentals as well as vocal songs. His best known piece, "Cliffs of Dover" is outstanding. Kind of a blend of Jimi Hendrix meets Mozart. Beautiful classical sounding melody done on a searing guitar.

Track listing:

01 Ah Via Musicom 2:04
02 Cliffs Of Dover 4:10
03 Desert Rose 4:55
04 High Landrons 5:46
05 Steve´s Boogie 1:51
06 Trademark 4:45
07 Nothing Can Keep Me From You 4:23
08 Song For George 1:47
09 Righteous 3:27
10 Forty Mile Town 4:13
11 East Wes 3:28

Personnel:

Eric Johnson – lead vocals (tracks 3, 4, 7, 10), guitar, piano, electric sitar, arrangement, engineering, production
Jody Lazo – vocals (tracks 7, 10)
Steven Hennig – guitar (track 5)
Steve Barber – keyboard, synthesizer, arrangement
Tommy Taylor – drums (tracks 1–7, 9–11), percussion (tracks 4, 7, 10), arrangement
Paul Bissell – percussion (track 1)
James Fenner – percussion (tracks 10, 11)
Roscoe Beck – bass (tracks 1, 3, 7, 9, 10), arrangement
Kyle Brock – bass (tracks 2–6, 11), arrangement
Reggie Witty – bass (track 7), arrangement
Wee Willie – harmonica

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