Neal Schon & Jan Hammer: On the Beach
On the Beach
Untold Passion (Sony SRCS 6188)
Colin Hodgkinson (bass).
Composed by Neal Schon.
Recorded: Kent, NY, 1981
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
There are four very good fusion numbers on Untold Passion. Three were written by Jan Hammer. You expect those to be superior. But rock superstar Neal Schon, always a fan of the jazz-rock genre, proves he is no slouch as a fusion composer either. "On the Beach" doesn't have the twists and turns or depth of Hammer's pieces. But in its own way it is quite a satisfactory turn. A distorted guitar introduces an aggressive repeating funk-trending riff reminiscent of Allan Holdsworth's forays with The New Tony Williams Lifetime. Hammer interrupts the riffs with some mellow arpeggios. Schon wrote the tune in sections. So you are not surprised when several subtle measures are followed by aggression. This was and will always be a successful fusion formula. Schon generously gives the hard parts, and thus the accolades, to Hammer. Hammer's solos dominate, as Schon is satisfied to play that infectious funk riff and backing chords while Hammer takes "On the Beach" where few could. Schon and Hammer are joined on this cut by the fine bassist Colin Hodgkinson. But it must be remembered that Schon, and especially Hammer, are playing all the other instruments heard through overdubbing. This doesn't sound like any trio because in the end it is not. It can't be easy to pull that stuff off without losing some spontaneity. But these guys do so handily.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky