"I love Eric Johnson's guitar playing (he's got that 'impossible' tone). Eric also has a great voice. I noticed some people commented that they wish he wouldn't sing, but I think he does a wonderful job of it.This is my favorite out of all the EJ recordings I own. Some would probably argue that the album seems over-produced compared to things he done in the past, but I don't care. "Venus Isle" is beautifully recorded--it's a pleasure to listen to. It progresses very nicely--the songs sound like they were meant to go in the order they're in. They all meld together to form one long song. Very soothing...especially tracks like "Song for Lynette" and "When the Sun Meets the Sky."In reading other reviews, I found out that the person this album is tributed to was Johnson's girlfriend, who was unfortunately killed in a burglary. The general mood of this album makes more sense now knowing that.I highly recommend you check out this recording."
Stephen A. Smith | Boston, MA | 07/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Eric Johnson performed in Boston during his Venus Isle tour in the fall of 1996; and before his band took the stage, an emcee took the microphone to apologize for Johnson's condition: He was recovering from an illness and wouldn't be able to sing, so the concert would be entirely instrumental. The audience erupted into a simultaneous cheer.
The fact is, Eric Johnson could guarantee himself better sales by positioning himself as a "guitar hero" and recording instrumental albums. Instead he continues to record thoughtful, cohesive music where lyrics and guitar solos collaborate to serve compositional function. He's a perfectionist with an artistic vision. You've got to respect that.
I think "Venus Isle" stands as one of the best rock albums of the Nineties. If you're hoping for pyrotechnic solos, with sweep picking and finger tapping on every track, then you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you're willing to set aside your expectations and judge the music on its merits, then I would suggest you listen with a good pair of headphones. There's a lot to hear, made possible by first-rate engineering and production. Each song stands solidly on its own -- and collectively, the program comprises a hell of an album.
After Johnson's hit "Cliffs of Dover," there was a lot of pressure for him to follow up with an album quickly to capitalize on his popularity. Instead of dashing off a few quick instrumentals and selling a million CDs, he spent six years planning his next work. (This infuriated his record label.) He allegedly recorded at least one other full album, which got as far as the mastering stage before he decided to discard it and start over from scratch. "Venus Isle" was the work he finally deemed worthy of release. I think it was worth the wait."
Eric Johnson-Venis Isle
ZEPmang82 | flemington, nj United States | 02/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first heard "Manhattan" on the G3 Cd, I bought Ah Via and this album. Impeccable tone, jaw-dropping speed, and deep lyrics, make this one of the most precious albums I owe. Some notable songs are: Battle We Have Won, All About You, SRV, and Pavilion. But the best track in my opinion is Manhattan. It gives me tingles listening to it. I love playing along with it on my guitar as well as SRV. Buy it and you won't be dissapointed."
Marooned by magic
Red Barchetta | Mumbai, Maharashtra India | 03/15/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first song/instrumental I ever heard by Eric Johnson was 'Cliffs of Dover' from the 'Ah Via Musicom' album. I knew I would keep on loving this guy ever after that hearing. One of the most (if not the best) melodious rock instrumental guitarists of his genre, Eric Johnson is amazingly talented, extremely versatile and immaculately accurate with melody nursing. And he does all this through his distinctive guitar tone (which helped in identifying him in the G3 suite of songs), fluent playing style and frequent refreshing and magical vocals. 'Venus Isle' is a beautiful album. I personally think its a tiny notch above 'Ah Via Musicom', which is sheer brilliance in itself. The title track starts off with a vocal chant from a guy called 'Amit Chatterjee'...very pleasurable introduction that gives generous way to Eric, when he's done. Followed by 'Battle we have won'(again with an Indianish intro), with Eric still on vocals, you get a taste of most of what this album is centered around. Fine melody, great percussion and magical guitaring. There's an ode (and a compelling one at that) to Stevie Ray Vaughan on 'S.R.V.' (brilliant!) with guest guitarist Jimmie Vaughan, but otherwise this album mostly speaks volumes in magical fantasy land. Melody is pronounced in tracks like 'Lonely in the night'(love the chorus after the intro!), 'song for lynette'(beautiful and soulful acoustic piano composition, with classical guitar accompaniment and string arrangements and a serene trumpet interlude),'pavillion' and 'when the sun meets the sky'. The latter is what possibly comes closest (although a bit louder) to 'Forty mile town' from the 'Ah Via Musicom' album. A lilting melody thats bound to make you want to listen to it again and again. And as the CD inlay card says, "Nothing bolder, nothing grander, than tuning into love".
'Lonely in the night' finishes off with a great solo...God! Eric's excellent! The way he swoops down to pick up a run and then down again to weave it into another, from the same depths, but longer this time with an additional note, is just superb. (figure that one!) 'All about you' has some commendable guitar runs amidst all the comparitively overbearing drumming. The song does get into instrumental mode mid-way and gives that much more room for Eric to dazzle...electrifying runs and woven into the rhythm perfectly. There's an almost 2 minute solo that will make you go. "Gosh! I love this guy". 'Camel's night out' and 'Pavillion' showcase Eric's talent, enough to extol his style and recognize him as one of the best guitar melody conjurors. 'Manhattan' is a nice steady cool track...instrumental and cozy. The album ends with 'Venus reprise', an instrumental rejuvenation of sorts.
'Venus Isle' is a great melody album, with Eric Johnson really reaching out for magical strings that tug at your heart. I'd seriously recommend a buy, if you have a heart that is :)"
"Absolutely no one beats Eric Johnson's guitar playing for making my skin tingle and compelling me keep playing his CDs over and over.
Venu Isle is truly beautiful, soul-soaring music - created for those chill-out moments sitting on the sand-dunes on a windy day and watching the breakers...or just cruising that Pacific coastal road that leads up into the mountains.
The opening bars of 'Song for Lynette' are so poignant they make me want to cry/laugh out aloud/simply kiss someone...for bringing back memories of loves known and lost.
God bless you Eric Johnson for bringing a mellow autumnal sunshine into my heart with your gorgeous music. Intense and intelligent rock music for everyone."