In 1981, when keyboardist and drummer extraordinaire Jan Hammer
and guitar wizard Neal Schon were each enjoying massive success in their own careers — Hammer for his work with John McLaughlin
's Mahavishnu Orchestra
, as a solo artist, founder of his eponymous Jan Hammer Group and frequent collaborator with Jeff Beck
, and Schon for a decade's worth of work with Santana
and as one of the founding members of Journey
— their long-standing mutual admiration finally brought them together for a pair of recordings that, until now, has never been available digitally.
Fans of both artists will finally get the chance to download Untold Passion
(1981) and Here to Stay
(1982) beginning December 4 through iTunes, Amazon MP3 and other digital retailers. Also available are two never-before heard songs, Planet Empathy" and Weekend Heaven." Both were originally recorded at the same time as the albums on which they each appear, but Planet Empathy" was completed only recently, in September of this year. These two tracks are included in the digital box set and are also available individually.
The 1981 release of Untold Passion
was to a degree eclipsed by the nearly simultaneous release of Journey's Escape
. Despite the 'competition,' Untold Passion
, comprised of half instrumental and half vocal tracks, made strong inroads onto the Billboard
200. Its rock tunes, more hard edged than the melodic rock that was propelling Journey to the top of the charts, provided Schon with more room to explore as a guitarist and at the same time exhibit his talents as a lead vocalist. Untold Passion
was spontaneously recorded in just over two weeks at Hammer's Red Gate Studio in upstate NY. Lauded by Billboard
as a dynamic instrumental meeting of the minds," and by the Album Network
as a wonderfully progressive record," Untold Passion
earned extensive critical acclaim both in the US and internationally, eventually being named the Album of the Year in Rolling Stone
's European edition. Most significantly, the success of Untold Passion
led Columbia Records to request a second album from Schon and Hammer.
That album, Here to Stay
, took the same spontaneous chemistry which was so obvious on Untold Passion
and enhanced it with a greater emphasis on production. While Untold Passion
featured only bassist Colin Hodgkinson
as a grounding foil for the guitarist's and keyboardist's musical pyrotechnics, Here to Stay
includes an array of special guests. On one track, Self Defense," Schon and Hammer are joined by Journey's Steve Perry
on background vocals, Ross Valory
on bass, and Steve Smith
on drums. On several others, Glen Burtnik
(who was then a newcomer but who went on to replace Tommy Shaw in Pooky Styx
) sings harmonies and background vocals.
No More Lies," the standout single from Here to Stay
, rose to the Top 40 on Billboard
's Rock chart, and spawned one of MTV's most popular videos. Critics were lavish in their praise, describing the album as incendiary" and stating, for sheer rock with no pretensions, Here to Stay
is the ticket."
Following the release of the now multi-platinum Escape
, Schon released ten more albums with Journey in addition to seven solo albums. In 1984, Hammer began work scoring a new TV series, Miami Vice
. Within a year, the Miami Vice Soundtrack
had soared to the #1 position on the Billboard
Top Pop Album chart and Jan's Miami Vice
theme also topped the Billboard
Hot 100 Singles Chart and had earned him two Grammy Awards, one for Best Pop Instrumental Performance" and one for Best Instrumental Composition." Hammer continued to score Miami Vice
until 1988, and he has since gone on to score numerous film and television projects, as well as to tour and record with a diverse array of artists, from guitar legend Jeff Beck to renowned jazz drummer Tony Williams
to Dutch re-mixer and producer Junkie XL
Now both albums have been combined into a digital package that will certainly fill a long-time gap in the music collections of fans of both artists.