Ah Via Musicom review by Eric Johnson

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  • Released: Mar 20, 1990
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 9 (45 votes)
Eric Johnson: Ah Via Musicom

Sound — 8
From the beginning, Johnson sets a tone that he knows exactly what he is doing vocally and musically whether it be with electric or acoustic guitar or in the several genres that Johnson ventures into in this album. The tone he manages to get from his guitar is delicious, it leaves you begging for more, but somehow, something somewhere is just not clicking for me. The studio musicians hired for the album to a very good job of giving a large platform from which Johnson can work with, yet it's just not... right. I pause as I'm not really sure what doesn't seem right. It could possibly be that Johnson, despite the skill he is almost too keen to demonstrate to us, can not muster up the perfect riff, lick or song to capture my heart fully, don't get me wrong, when it finally clicks, it clicks firmly in place, I just find it leaves a lot to be desired His sound is certainly alien to me. Sitting here now, I cannot think of an artist who it is comparable to, but that is probably just me, just imagine a bassist and drummer providing perfect support for an epic song or solo and the guitar wailing in a bad sense, not quite reaching the heights I would have liked to have heard. This may be due to his varying genres. He tackles ambience, rock, boogie, acoustic rock, jazz rock and blues but doesn't really settle in either genre for a suitable duration. In all, the sound is almost perfect, just something absent

Lyrics — 7
When you Eric Johnson sing for the very first time in the album, you hear what appears to be a really weak, grainy voice, and after Cliffs of Dover, you just feel that he should go back to recapturing that past glory with screaming guitars, great bass lines and drum patterns, but then the voice settles and you realise that his singing is of good standard and really suits the genres he tackles, and adds a new, good dimension to the songs. However, without meaning to talk like a broken record, it just doesn't work for me. The vocal range is not great and his skill leaves something to be desired for, but he knows what notes to hit and his comfortable in his own parameters and he takes advantage of that fact, which in turn, makes the listener more comfortable listening to the album. The lyrics may well mean something to Johnson, but it is hard for a listener to really recognise what this is, and it seems to be just a random title with lyrics built around the title rather than the other way around. In all, the vocals were OK

Overall Impression — 7
From this album I get the impression that Johnson is a man who has great technical abilities and is capable of something great, but he knows it himself. In this context, that is a bad thing for Johnson as at points he seems to mock the listener with crazy riffs that demonstrate his skill that he always is far too keen to show off. Putting, my opinion on Johnson's character aside, altogether, the album didn't work for me overly well, it didn't seem there all the time, at points you felt like skipping tracks just to get rid of a very annoying space-filler. His ideas were not brilliant which did not help him produce the monster record he was hoping for. Even the strongest track, 'Cliffs of Dover' gets on your nerves after a few hearings, which in my opinion does not mark a great track. It was actually quite disappointing at best, because in reality, I had expected something a lot better Track Listing: 01.Ah Via Musicom: just basically a build to the next track, creates a promising start to the album, builds excitement and what have you 02.Cliffs Of Dover: the two minutes previously are instantly forgotten the moment Johnson wails the second note. He demostrates his incredible ability in this track, but I wish I had relished it more as it was one of the few times I found myself tapping away 9.5/10 03.Desert Rose: introduction of the vocals, a good outline to a song, doesn't feel right, a bit iffy around the edges, never theless good track 7/10 04.High Landrons: a well-crafted song, but everything about it just annoys me deep down, the annoying phasered riff at te beginning sets the tone 6/10 05.Steve's Boogie: yuk, a vanity driven comic mockery of a piece, annoying, vile and boring 2/10 06.Trademark: a last grasp of getting a good song out there with Track 02, but not quite there 8/10 07.Nothing Can Keep Me From You: lyrically the strongest, a good track some of the time 7/10 08.Song For George: a great little acoustic track showing his versality, I liked it... quite a bit 9/10 09.Righteous: a blues rock based piece which would have been far stronger with dubbing or a second guitarist, and it faltered without it 6/10 10.Forty Mile Town: Johnson's attempt at a rock ballad, which failed miserably, I didn't like it 4/10 11.East Wes: a rise in quality towards the end, but not overly great, has some jazzy influences mixed in 7.5/10 Don't get me wrong, I think Johnson had the talent and showed in on occasions but I would no suggest it to a friend or buy it again if it was lost.

12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    agent_sephiroth wrote: definitley not the greatest guitarist nor the most technicaly accomplished, but nevertheless a nice album!
    Are you out of your mind??? EJ is genius you could never be as great as him
    @dandan321 EJ IS a better "shredder" than Yngwie. Yngwie is quite sloppy, EJ picks a lot cleaner, and is the only player who can pick 2nps licks so fast and clean.
    dandan321 wrote: Grand Wazoo wrote: 'Non-shredder'? He can pick faster and cleaner than Yngwie. As much as I love EJ, that is definitely untrue.
    EJ is a lot cleaner, and has alot more techniques on tap than yngwie that he uses regularly to give a different feel to his music and shredding is all about mastery of the instrument not just playing fast. EJ is a far more versatile and technical player.
    johnson is just unreal his technique is flawless, he would chop ur head clean off. Glad someone put this album up. Besides the legendary COD desert rose is a nice song. cheers eric.
    @Shreddy-- Eric Johnson won the 1992 Grammy for "Best Instrumental Rock Performance." I'm pretty sure that this is the only significant award that the album has won.
    This is one of the keystones of guitar playing today. Every player should own this album.
    One of my biggest heros! And he's coming here to El Paso on the 21st, even though he's playing at a shitty little bar... He deserves more recognition. I'm turning 16 on the 25th, and because its a shitty little bar, they're making it an 18+ show, so I can't see him on my birthday. GODOMMOT!
    cliffs pf dover is a great song, but i disagree with everyone saying it's the best guitar tone ever, that's all opinion and no fact
    Grand Wazoo wrote: 'Non-shredder'? He can pick faster and cleaner than Yngwie.
    As much as I love EJ, that is definitely untrue.