Neal Schon & Jan Hammer: Arc
Untold Passion (Sony SRCS 6188)
Colin Hodgkinson (bass).
Composed by Jan Hammer.
Recorded: Kent, NY, 1981
Rating: 96/100 (learn more)
Journey founder and guitarist Neal Schon got together with Jan Hammer to produce some really good jazz-rock fusion for 1981's Untold Passion. The album was about a 50-50 mix of rock vocals and fusion instrumentals. I prefer the fusion stuff by a ratio of about 30 to 1, but the rock songs weren't all that bad. I am just grateful the duo decided to offer any fusion at all, considering that the genre was disintegrating before my very ears. My guess is that it was Schon's idea to play some of the jazz-rock numbers on Untold Passion. He had been a huge Mahavishnu fan as a young musician. Hammer was heading in the opposite direction with his music at this time. But how can you play with Jan Hammer and not want to play fusion?
"Arc" is a killing number. Hammer and Schon go at it hammer and tongs. The tune begins with some rather clichéd rock-guitar riffs and drumbeats. But within 20 seconds an all-out fusion sonic power ballad is in full stride. The players trade off at ridiculous speeds. Schon has plenty of fusion licks in his arsenal. His lines are blues-influenced, which makes for a good mix with Hammer's output that, no matter how twisted, has a European flair. There's a bit of the boogie found on this "Arc," too. (Or is it "in this Arc?") There are also some allusions to the Jeff Beck Wired vibe from Hammer's mid-'70s days with the legendary guitarist. This is great stuff that should be played at high volume. I wish these guys had collaborated more.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky