Neal Schon – Vortex (Music Theories Recordings)

Genre: Instrumental Rock

It’s testimony to Neal Schon’s ubiquitous talent that the man behind Journey’s most memorable riffs still has enough creativity left in the tank to deliver a solo album so unexpected, thrilling and thought-provoking.

An instrumental tour de force, Schon’s collaborations with keyboardist Jan Hammer and Journey band mate Steve Smith is sensational on every level. AOR fans will revel in the sublime touches and familiar time signatures but devotees of Joe Satriani and Steve Vai will find just as much to love within Vortex’s two CDs of ground-breaking rock.

Satch is a great reference point for Irish Cream and Lady M (Our Love Remains) – the two outstanding tracks on the first disc. The über cool guitar tone is less AOR and more sweeping, atmospheric jazz rock – a sound familiar to those who own Satriani’s definitive Flying In A Blue Dream and its more urgent follow-up The Extremist.

Schon is, of course, the focus where Vortex is concerned. But Hammer’s contribution is breathtaking with the accomplished tinkler given free reign to stamp his mark all over this mouthwatering set.

Thought you knew everything there was to know about a musician who’s been making classy melodic rock for five decades? This superb release redefines the boundaries of Schon’s musical canon. Simon Rushworth

RUSHONROCK RATED: 9/10 Neal Before The Master