"Ah Via Musicom" (Capitol; 1990)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers


Eric Johnson won a Grammy for the instrumental track “Cliffs Of Dover” in 1992. If you have this CD, then you already know what a musical talent Eric Johnson is. He plays guitar, piano and the boy can sing! Most know him for his instrumental guitar. I heard “Cliffs Of Dover” and was floored. I was into Joe Satriani and Steve Vai at the time and I thought any guy who releases an instrumental disc must have the “E” string to back it up. Johnson did, and still does.

I had at one time in my possession “Venus Isle,” Johnson’s disc after this one, but I sold it because I’m a bean brain. Now, after listening to this disc so I could review it, I find myself switching back and forth between sites to see if I can find a used copy of “Venus Isle” while I keep my fingers firmly planted on the home row keys trying to do literary justice to this disc.

Many fans of guitar in the 80s were treated to guitar players in the 90s who stepped out from behind the amps and put out a few instrumental releases. I’ve always admired those who don’t start a band just to get a record contract. It takes more talent than guts to put your own name out there. There's no safety net and I have total admiration for those who do that.

Eric Johnson is a Texas native and started playing at an early age, this disc is his second release, so winning a Grammy was probably the coolest thing that could have happened to him and it gave instrumental guitarists everywhere hope. Of course, Johnson's playing is phenomenal, and his voice isn’t bad either. He sings on a few tracks and he’s got an airy voice -- nothing too light, but his playing always perfectly accompanies his voice.

Eric Johnson has so many styles at his choosing. He can play rock, jazz, new age and country/western. I think he explores just about all of them on this disc and not everything here will hold fans of the more straight forward rock'n'roll attentive but you can’t deny he can really play any style he wants to. Even though he changes styles a few times, he’s so good that you don’t mind sitting through something unknown just to discover something new.

If you know of anyone playing guitar that doesn’t have this disc, then buy them a copy so they can experience a true musician. Eric Johnson toured with G3 back in 1997 so check him out on stage (with his fuzzy headphones!).

The best tracks are “Cliffs Of Dover,” “Steve’s Boogie,” “Trademark,” “Righteous,” and “East Wes.”

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 12 Mar 2024 12:56:41 -0500.