Journey

Journey Journey (Columbia) 1975

1. Of a Lifetime (6:49)
2. In the Morning Day (4:24)
3. Koboutek [instrumental] (6:47)
4. To Play Some Music (3:16)
5. Topaz [instrumental] (6:10)
6. In My Lonely Feeling/Conversations (4:59)
7. Mystery Mountain (4:23)

Wow! How did I miss this album all my life. Growing up in the 80's, I guess I had just always assumed that Journey were a prissy pop band that you were forced to listen to at high school dances. What we have here is some genuine 1970's progressive rock and roll. Journey was formed when Santana's lead vocalist and keyboardist Gregg Rollie and guitarist Neal Schon left following the "Caravanserai" album. You can certainly hear the Santana influence in this album, albeit without all the latin percussion. Journey's debut actually has more in common with early Rush or Nektar. The songs are filled with cool intros, powerful instrumental breaks, bluesy sections, melancholy acoustic passages and full tilt guitar shredding. The vocals are also far and away different from the sticky sweet vocals of Steve Perry. Original vocalist Gregg Rollie has a darker sounding voice that works well for this style of rock. The thing is, he doesn't spend that much time singing. Of the forty minutes of music, I would be willing to bet that less than 15 minutes features vocals. There are even two songs without any vocals. Both the instrumental tracks on this album are quite good and feature dynamic songwriting, fluid guitar playing from Schon and George Tickner and nice keyboard work from Rolie. It should also be mentioned that the drummer on this album was Aynsley Dunbar (of Frank Zappa, Jeff Beck fame). Journey may be known as a pop, radio, ballad band, but this album is pure rock n roll.

Look Into the Future Journey - Look into the Future (Columbia) 1976

1. On a Saturday Night (4:01)
2. It's All Too Much (4:06)
3. Anyway (4:12)
4. She Makes Me (Feel Alright) (3:12)
5. You're on Your Own (5:55)
6. Look into the Future (8:12)
7. Midnight Dreamer (5:13)
8. I'm Gonna Leave You (7:01)

For me Journey brings up thoughts of high school dance, cheesy love ballads, and glitzy 80's radio hits. However, long before Steve Perry transformed Journey into pop radio stars, they were a serious rock and roll band. The sophmore offering from Journey is some seriously heavy rock. "Look Into the Future" combines Gregg Rolie's masculine, smooth voice, Neal Schon's unapproachable mastery of the guitar, and the tight rhythm section of Ross Valory and drummer Aynsley Dunbar. One listen to the title cut should leave most fans of heavy 70's rock smiling. Of course no one knew at the time just how good this band was, but as time went on they proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with, at least within pop rock circles. This album gave us only the slightest glimpse of those pop leanings though. This release is more bluesy than anything the band would do in the future (or had done in the past).

Next Journey - Next (Columbia ) 1977

1. Spaceman" (4:01)
2. People" (5:21)
3. I Would Find You" (5:54)
4. Here We Are" (4:18)
5. Hustler" (3:15)
6. Next" (5:28)
7. Nickel and Dime" [instrumental] (4:14)
8. Karma" (5:07)

"Next" is the best of the pre-Steve Perry, early Journey albums. By this time, Journey were a full fledged progressive rock band sounding like a combination of E.L.P., Deep Purple and The Beatles. The band combined heavy guitars, progressive keyboards and progressive songwriting to create something far and away different from what Journey would become known for. Aynsley Dunbar (Pat Travers, UFO) is a fantastic drummer and puts forth some of his finest work here. Unfortunately this would be the last album to feature Gregg Rolie as lead vocalist, although he would stay with the band through "Evolution".

Infinity Journey - Infinity (Columbia) 1978

1.      Lights (3:11)
2.      Feeling that Way (3:28)
3.      Anytime (3:28)
4.      Lă Do Dā (3:01)
5.      Patiently (3:21)
6.      Wheel in the Sky (4:12)
7.      Somethin' to Hide (3:27)
8.      Winds of March (5:04)
9.      Can Do (2:39)
10.    Opened the Door (4:37)
Journey 1979

With Journey's fourth album "Infinity" the band almost completely re-invented their sound, thanks in part to new, smooth, crooner Steve Perry. However, producer Roy Thomas Baker, who had previously worked with Queen, certainly had a big hand in the band's transformation into a more radio-friendly arena rock band as well. Former lead vocalist, Gregg Rolie retains his spot behind the keys and shares lead vocals on songs like "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime". The mix of vocalists on these tracks is actually quite appealing and gives the band a whole new dimension. Producer Roy Thomas Baker's imprint can be heard throughout the record. The layered sound that Queen often employed is very prominent here, especially on tracks such as "Winds of March". As well, the layered vocal harmonies are heard throughout the album. As such, even though Perry has the lion's share of vocal duties on the album, Rolie can still be heard throughout the record. "Anytime" is a good example of how well the layered vocals worked on this record.

The album starts off with three of Journey's most recognizable songs. "Lights" was a hit for the band and is a bluesy, hard rock song with an undeniable pop hook. "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime" really must be played together and fit together like a glove. Together with the single "Wheel in the Sky", this album brought Journey much more mainstream success than they had seen previously. Frankly, the praise for this album is well deserved. "Infinity" is a solid rock record and never really dives into the pop and high-school love anthems that will become the band's calling card in the not-too-distant-future. In fact, "La Do Da", despite the silly song title, is a fairly heavy rocker and one of the more upbeat songs on the album. It is the underrated gem from this collection. "Patiently" is one of the ballads from "Infinity" and is worth noting as the first song that Neil Schon and Steve Perry penned together. The song was written as a tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. The other ballad is closing song "Opened the Door" which has a bit of Led Zeppelin vibe as the song builds and especially the last minute or so of the song which features some lead guitar work from Schon.

"Infintity" was the last album for drummer Aynsley Dunbar. "Infinity" sold 3x platinum in the US.

Evolution Journey - Evolution (Columbia) 1979

1.      Majestic (1:16)
2.      Too Late (2:58)
3.      Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' (3:55)
4.      City of the Angels (3:12)
5.      When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy) (3:10)
6.      Sweet and Simple (4:13)
7.      Lovin' You Is Easy (3:38)
8.      Just the Same Way (3:18)
9.      Do You Recall (3:13)
10.     Daydream (4:42)
11.     Lady Luck (3:35)

By 1979, Journey were gaining massive momentum, touring the world and seeing major success, thanks in part to a new AOR sound and new frontman Steve Perry. "Evolution" was the band's follow-up to the popular "Infinity" and surpassed it in album sales. The album was their highest charting album to date, selling three million copies in the US. The cover art indicates that the album was a continuation of the sound on "Evolution" and indeed that was the case.

Back again is Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker, who again brings in some of those signature Queen studio tricks to the Journey camp. Album opener, "Majestic" with it's layered vocals and striking lead guitar sound easily could have been a Queen song. While the song is short and almost an intro, it doesn't really flow or work as an intro to "Too Late". It's just a short song with a title that describes it's sound. "Evolution" featured Journey's first ever Top 20 hit, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'", which is a blues based song inspired by the Sam Cooke classic "Nothing Can Change This Love". Decades later and despite many, many more hit songs, this song is still one of Journey's signature songs. After all, who can forget that unending string of "nah, nah, na-nah, nah, nah..." "City of the Angels" is another song that really brings out the influence of producer Roy Thomas Baker. The piercing guitar solo and the layered vocals are all his signature. Likewise I really hear his influence in songs like "When Your Alone", "Daydream" and "Just the Same Way". As with "Infinity", there is a song that features lead vocals from original vocalist and keyboard player Gregg Rolie. "Just the Same Way", a song penned by Rolie and Schon features both Rolie and Steve Perry on lead vocals. "Sweet and Simple" is the obligatory ballad on the album. For some reason, these late 70's ballads are more tolerable in my ears than the irritatingly sappy, high school prom dance ballads the band would churn out in the 80's. "Lady Luck" is a mid-paced hard rock song that closes out the album and features some nice keyboard work from Rolie.

"Evolution" and "Infinity" are both solid arena-rock albums. They are both very different from the early Gregg Rolie-led albums. However, their blend of passionate vocals, hard rock, hooky songs and Baker's production are still very appealing. The band had not yet gone completely pop and still had a lot to offer fans of hard rock.

On "Evolution", drummer Aynsley Dunbar was replaced with former Montrose drummer Steve Smith.

Departure Journey - Departure (Columbia) 1980

1.   Any Way You Want It (3:21)
2.   Walks Like A Lady (3:16)
3.   Someday Soon (3:31)
4.   People And Places (5:04)
5.   Precious Time (4:49)
6.   Where Were You (3:00)
7.   I'm Cryin' (3:42)
8.   Line Of Fire (3:05)
9.   Departure [instrumental] (0:37)
10. Good Morning Girl (1:44)
11. Stay Awhile (2:48)
12. Homemade Love (2:53)
BONUS TRACKS
13. Natural Thing (3:43)
14. Little Girl (5:47)
Steve Perry
Steve Perry

New decade, new year, new producer. Journey steps into the 80's and states in the album liner notes, "Join us for our departure into the 80's." However, despite name of the album and a new producer, "Departure" is anything but a departure of what Journey was doing by this point. This is very much a continuation of "Infinity" and "Evolution". The real departure happened two years ago with an album called "Infinity". Where the album slightly differs from the last two is in two areas; 1. The production, which is slightly edgier due to a live in the studio recording and 2. the drumming is a bit more straight-forward and simplistic than in the past.

"Departure" is Journey's sixth album and their third with Steve Perry behind the mic. It would prove to be the band's biggest release yet and gave Journey their first appearance in the top 10 of the Billboard album charts, peaking at #8. Journey had been a touring machine for two years prior to this and had build up a solid audience. As well, this album includes the big, feel-good, arena-rock anthem "Any Way You Want It", which became one of the band's signature songs. The song is build around a big, hooky, sing-along chorus.

I've long been a fan of the Gregg Rolie/Steve Perry duet songs. Rolie's darker style of vocals offsets Perry's high, sticky-sweet croon. On "Departure" Rolie and Perry share lead vocalduties on "Someday Soon", a song that I would describe as a ballad. Sadly, this album would mark the last studio appearance of founding member Gregg Rolie. Apparently had become tired of life on the road and decided to leave the band after assisting in the selection of his replacement, Jonathan Cain, then of The Babys.

Several cuts on "Departure" are quite bluesy. "I'm Cryin'" is injected with a big dose of the blues and the ballad "Stay Awhile" has a bit of a bluesy vibe to it as well. "Walk Like A Lady" on the other hand is a shuffle that combines bluesy riffs and some jazz influences. The song features some excellent keyboard work from Roalie and reminds me of those not-so-well-known early Journey albums. I was surprised to find out that this song was penned by Schon and Perry and not Roalie. "Precious Times" features some interesting harmonica soloing, which I found quite appealing. These songs show that despite the band's desire to write hit singles, they still had the ability and desire to write songs outside their standard AOR formula. On the other hand, "Where Were You" is one of the album's straight-forward rockers offering a glimpse of the band's 80's sound. Likewise, "Line of Fire" is a straight-forward hard rock song and sports a stunning guitar solo.

It becomes obvious how much Perry was taking over the reigns of the band at this point. Rolie's name is listed less in the writing credits while Steve Perry is involved in writing all but the short title track of the album. Much of the time his credits are shared with Neil Schon, with the exception of the aforementioned "Walks Like A Lady". The brief instrumental title track features Schon's guitar work acting as an intro into the soft "Good Morning Girl".

It might have been 1980, but "Departure" isn't quite the slick AOR that the band would become known for on their follow-up albums. It, as well as their live album "Captured", were the end of an era for the band.

The 2006 remastered edition contain two bonus tracks. "Natural Things" is another blues-based ballad that was the b-side to the "Don't Stop Believing" single. "Little Girl" is an acoustic ballad that was used in the movie "Dream After Dream". The remastered booklet comes packed with tons of photos of the band and memorabilia from this era of the band.

BTW, does anyone else think of the classic Rodney Dangerfield scene in CaddyShack when they hear "Any Way You Want It"?

Captured Journey - Captured (Epic) 1981

1. "Majestic" [instrumental] (0:41)
2. "Where Were You" (3:21)
3. "Just the Same Way" (3:36)
4. "Line of Fire" (3:18)
5. "Lights" (3:30)
6. "Stay Awhile" (2:17)
7. "Too Late" (3:41)
8. "Dixie Highway" (6:53)
9. "Feeling That Way" (3:14)
10. "Anytime" (4:25)
11. "Do You Recall" (3:21)
12. "Walks Like a Lady" (7:06)
13. "La Do Da" (7:02)
14. "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" (5:09)
15. "Wheel in the Sky" (5:01)
16. "Any Way You Want It" (3:40)
17. "The Party's Over (Hopelessly in Love)" [studio track] (3:42)

Neil Schon
Neal Schon

A solid live album from Journey. There are some good rockin' songs included here as this album was released prior to pop hits like "Faithfully" and "Open Arms". I've always been partial to the Gregg Rollie years of the band. The first three songs and the intro are very cool, as is "Wheel in the Sky". Personally I think these live versions have a bit more gusto than the lighter weight studio versions. There are two previously unreleased tracks on this album: "Dixie Highway" and "The Party's Over". This album turned out to be their last recording with Gregg Rollie. (Stevie "Keys" Roseman plays keyboards on "The Party's Over".) .Reading through HeavyHarmonies.com you'd think this album was the be-all and end-all of live records. Looking around other places on the net, I found comments such as,

"This album belongs in the same league as Strangers In The Night, Tokyo Tapes and Live And Dangerous."

"One of the top 10 live albums ever."

"Without any doubt, this is the greatest live arena rock album, EVER."

OK, so maybe my lukewarmness is due to the fact that I wasn't really into Journey in the 80's. I am sure there is some nostalgia for many fans. As for me, I find this CD to be enjoyable, but I don't tend to put it in the same league with "Strangers In The Night", "Tokyo Tapes", "Live And Dangerous" or the outrageous "Double Live Gonzo."

Escape Journey - Escape (Columbia) 1981

1.      Don't Stop Believin' (4:10)
2.      Stone In Love (4:25)
3.      Who's Crying Now (5:01)
4.      Keep On Runnin' (3:39)
5.      Still They Ride (3:49)
6.      Escape (5:16)
7.      Lay It Down (4:13)
8.      Dead Or Alive (3:20)
9.      Mother, Father (5:28)
10.     Open Arms (3:18)
BONUS TRACKS
11.  La Raza Del Sol (3:26)
12.  Don't Stop Believing [live] (4:19)
13.  Who's Crying Now [live] (5:44)
14.  Open Arms [live] (3:23)

If Columbia repackaged this album and called it "Journey's Greatest Hits" I don't think anyone would be the wiser. "Escape" was Journey's seventh studio album and has to be one of the most popular rock records ever recorded. Side one of the record was just one hit after the other; "Don't Stop Believin'", "Who's Crying Now" and "Still They Ride" were all Billboard Top 20 songs. "Stone in Love" is a rock radio staple three decades later. As well, album closer "Open Arms" was a huge hit for the band peaking at #2 on the U.S. charts. This heart-wrenching (or vomit inducing, depending on your position) ballad is one of those songs that is probably still being played at high school dances and weddings across the globe. Kerrang Magazine, which was considered to be one of the elite magazines of heavy metal in the 80's, ranked "Escaped" as  #32 in "The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time" in 1989. With "Escape" Steve Perry solidified his position as the king of arena rock vocalists, rivaled only by Lou Gramm of Foreigner. Perry's silky smooth voice was one of the key ingredient in the success of this album, as well as solid musical hooks, some firey guitar playing from Neal Schon. Check out the guitar solo in "Mother, Father" or bonus track "La Raza Del Sol". Schon proves without a shadow of a doubt that he can tear up a fret board as well as any shredder. "Escape" was also the band's first album with keyboardist Jonathan Cain who replaced founding keyboardist Gregg Rolie after he left the band at the end of 1980. Cain became a key ingredient in Journey's songwriting from this album on.

The 2006 remastered CD includes four bonus tracks. The most essential track is the Cain/Perry composition "La Raza Del Sol", a straight forward rocker with a nice solo from Neil Schon. The live tracks are ok, though I really didn't need another version of "Open Arms" on the CD. The 16-page booklet includes tons of photos from the '81 era of the band

Frontiers Journey - Frontiers (Columbia) 1983

1. Separate Ways (5:24)
2. Send Her My Love (3:54)
3. Chain Reaction (4:21)
4. After The Fall (5:00)
5. Faithfully (4:26)
6. Edge Of The Blade (4:30)
7. Troubled Child (4:29)
8. Back Talk (3:16)
9. Frontiers (4:08)
10. Rubicon (4:18)
BONUS TRACKS
11. Only the Young (4:18)
12. Ask the Lonely (3:55)
13. Liberty (2:54)
14. Only Solutions (3:33)

If ever there was an album that defined a sound for the 1980's, it's "Frontiers" by Journey. How many songs sounded like "Separate Ways"? How many ballads echoed the sappy style of "Send Her My Love" and "Faithfully"? Seriously! It's amazing just how popular this album was. "Frontiers" is Journey's eighth studio album and reached #2 on the Billboard charts. The album had no less than five hits, four that were Top 40 singles: "After the Fall", "Faithfully", "Send Her My Love", and "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) which topped out at number eight. As well, "Chain Reaction", though it didn't chart, was a big radio hit that is still being played on rock radio decades later.

If it wasn't painfully obvious just how much influence Jonathan Cain had on Journey's sound on "Escape", then "Frontiers" cements his place in Journey history as he is credited as the main writer on every song, with Steve Perry and Neil Schon having co-writing credits on several songs with him. The sound here is super-slick, ultra-produced radio rock. Three of the four hit singles from this album are sappy ballads. You couldn't go anywhere in 1983 without being bombarded by these horrendous ballads. In the case of "Frontiers" I think radio killed the music. Even "Separate Ways", which is a classic hard rock song, has been killed by over-saturation. A few songs like "Back Talk" and "Edge of the Blade" are hard rockers, though the slick production and keyboard saturation tends to strip the heaviness away from the songs. These two songs are actually more enjoyable than a majority of this album due to the fact that they haven't been played to death. As well, Neil Schon is actually present and doing something interesting in these two songs, unlike much of the rest of the album which is more keyboard driven than guitar driven. As a matter of fact, "Back Talk" actually has one of the few memorable guitar solos on the album. The closing number "Rubicon" is another quality hard rock number that reminds me a bit of Led Zeppelin's "In Through the Out Door".

In my opinion, "Frontiers" is overplayed, over-rated and sort of bland, paint-by-numbers stadium rock. It is really the album that turned me off to Journey so many years ago. I had liked the Gregg Rollie years, even after Perry was added as the band's frontman. "Infinity was a fantastic hard rock album. Follow-up albums continued to move into slicker and more pop terrain with "Escape" being the epitome of slick 1980s pop rock. Something just seemed to change as Cain took over songwriting duties and hit pop singles were the band's motivation for writing new music. Despite this, there are still a few choice gems on this CD, though none of those are likely to show up on any "hits" collections.

The 2006 re-mastered version of "Frontiers" includes four bonus tracks. "Only the Young", "Ask the Lonely" and "Only Solutions" were all recorded for movie soundtracks.  "Ask the Lonely" from the movie "Two of a Kind" (1983) and Only the Young", from the Vision Quest soundtrack (1985) became a hits for the band as well. "Liberty" is apparently a song that was recorded for "Frontiers" but left off the album. It's an acoustic based song, though not a ballad.

Raised on Radio Journey - Raised On Radio (Columbia) 1986

1.     Girl Can't Help It (3:53)
2.     Positive Touch (4:17)
3.     Suzanne (3:38)
4.     Be Good To Yourself (3:51)
5.     Once You Love Somebody (4:40)
6.     Happy to Give (3:49)
7.     Raised on Radio (3:49)
8.     I'll Be Alright Without You (4:49)
9.     It Could Have Been You (3:37)
10.   The Eyes of a Woman (4:32)
11.   Why Can't This Night Go On Forever (3:41)

By 1986, Steve Perry had pretty much taken over as the leader of Journey. Original member Ross Valory and long-time drummer Steve Smith were fired from the band and were replaced by various studio musicians Randy Jackson (bass guitar) and Larrie Londin (drums). Guitarist Neil Schon has no writing credits whatsoever. With Perry producing and writing all the material, along with keyboard player Jonathan Cain, "Raised on Radio" sounds more like a Steve Perry solo album than a Journey album. Gone is the hard rock and blues based rock numbers replaced mostly by super-slick, ultra-glossy, 1980's, soft pop. If there is any ounce of rock 'n' roll left in this band, it was spit polished out in the studio. Some of the songs on "Raised on Radio" would have fit neatly on a Lionel Richie record. Though I didn't count them, it seems as though the ballads outnumber the rock numbers this time around. The title track and the keyboard driven "Be Good To Yourself" are the closest the album comes to an actual rock songs, but both are clouded by a glossy recording which favors the keys over the guitars. There is no doubting the quality of the musicianship or the quality of Perry's smooth voice. He does sing his heart out on this one. However, this is the type of album that mostly makes hard rock fans cringe and grown men run for the hills.

According to Billboard, the album delivered four Top 20 singles: "Be Good to Yourself", "Girl Can't Help It", a ballad, "I'll Be Alright Without You", another ballad, and the dance pop of "Suzanne".

Trial By Fire Journey - Trial by Fire (Columbia) 1996

1.   Message Of Love (5:34)
2.   One More (5:28)
3.   When You Love A Woman (4:07)
4.   If He Should Break Your Heart (4:23)
5.   Forever In Blue (3:35)
6.   Castles Burning (6:00)
7.   Don't Be Down On Me Baby (4:01)
8.   Still She Cries (5:04)
9.   Colors Of The Spirit (5:41)
10. When I Think Of You (4:21)
11. Easy To Fall (5:15)
12. Can't Tame The Lion (4:32)
13. It's Just the Rain (5:15)
13. Trial By Fire (5:10)
14. Baby I'm Leaving You (2:48)

"Trial by Fire" is the 1996 "reunion" album from Journey after a 10-year hiatus. The line-up reunited is usually referred to as their 'classic' line up, though I would beg to differ. I tend to think of the classic line-up as including Gregg Rolie. Rather the line-up here is their popular 1980' line-up consisting of  Neal Schon (guitars), Steve Perry (vocals), Jonathan Cain (keyboards), and the rhythm section of Steve Smith (drums) and Ross Valory (bass). "Trial by Fire" included several Top 20 hits, including the Grammy nominated ballad "When You Love a Woman", which reached #12 and #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts. Frankly,  Grammy award and hit singles means nothing to me.

The music here is mostly of the pop and AOR variety, though the songs are more rock based than the slick pop of "Raised on Radio". Unlike "Raised on Radio", resident egomaniac Steve Perry wasn't 100% in charge, so Neal Schon's guitars can actually be heard throughout this CD. "Castles Burning" is an actual hard rock song with raw guitars and driving drums. It is the standout cut on the album, in my opinion. "Message of Love" sounds like it could have been recorded for "Escape" or "Frontiers". It's a slick pop-rock song with a big catchy chorus. However, as Journey were now known as the harbingers of sappy love ballads, there are plenty of those present here, including "When You Love a Woman", "Don't Be Down on My Baby", "Still She Cries", "It's Just The Rain" and smooth AOR ballad "If He Should Break Your Heart". The titles to these tracks should be indication enough of the cheese factor. It's unfortunate that a legendary band that is this talented and has released some timeless rock 'n' roll classics relies so heavily on tired clichés and ballads in an effort to find that hit single.

What really shines on this album are the performances, which are top notch and very well recorded, as would be expected. Perry has never sounded so good. Some of  this can undoubtedly be attributed to producer Kevin Shirley. However, good production and solid musicianship isn't enough to save an album that is mostly forgettable.

"Trial by Fire "was Journey's last album featuring vocalist Steve Perry and drummer Steve Smith.

Arrival Journey - Arrival (Columbia) 2001

1.      Higher Place (5:10)
2.      All the Way (3:35)
3.      Signs of Life (4:54)
4.      All the Things (4:24)
5.      Loved By You (4:03)
6.      Livin' to Do (6:25)
7.      World Gone Wild (6:00)
8.      I Got a Reason (4:20)
9.      With Your Love (4:25)
10.     Lifetime of Dreams (5:29)
11.     Live and Breathe (5:15)
12.     Nothin' Comes Close (5:41)
13.     To Be Alive Again (4:22)
14.     Kiss Me Softly (4:48)
15.     We Will Meet Again (5:06)

"Arrival" was the first studio album from Journey since their 1996 reunion with Steve Perry. With Perry out of the picture, the band hired Steve Augeri, formerly of Tyketto and Tall Stories. The band also hired drummer Deen Castronovo, Schon's and Cain's Bad English bandmate (also ex-Hardline), to replace Steve Smith. Together this version of the band recorded the song "Remember Me" for the multi-platinum soundtrack from the movie Armageddon before recording this full length release. "Arrival" was first released in Japan in late 2000 with a slightly different track listing. Apparently the band wanted feedback from fans, who felt the album was short of rock tracks and a little heavy on ballads. To resolve the issue, the band recorded  two harder rocking songs,World Gone Wild" and "Nothin' Comes Close", which were included on the American version of the album. "I'm Not That Way" from the Japanese release was left off. "Arrival" peaked at #56 on Billboard's album chart, Arrival was the band's first album that did not receive at least gold status, since 1977's Next. It was also their last studio album under Columbia Records, which had been the band's label since their self-titled 1975 debut.

Not surprisingly, the music contained on "Arrival" is a mixture of melodic, feel-good rock and roll and sentimental ballads. This seems to be the formula that Journey has focused on since the 80's and has worked well for them. Album opener, "Higher Place" is an ultra-hooky hard rock number that really should have been a hit for the band. This song is followed-up by the albums first ballad. It was the first single for the album and produced a minor adult contemporary hit. It is the first of many ballads scattered throughout the album. "Signs of Life" is another ballad-like song, though slightly more upbeat than "Higher Place" and features a nice guitar solo from veteran Neal Schon. "Loved by You", "With Your Love" and "Kiss Me Softly" are also radio-ready ballads. Unfortunately, even with the addition of the two new rock songs, "Arrival" just feels like it's too heavily loaded with sappy love ballads. On the other hand, melodic rocker "World Gone Wild" and the six-minute, blues-based "Livin' to Do" are enjoyable tracks. Overall, I think "Arrival" would have been a more solid listen with a few less ballads, and perhaps just the best ten to twelve tracks included. As it stands, to listen to this one all the way through is a little bit labor-some.

Live in Houston 1981 Journey - Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour (Columbia) 2005

1.      Intro/Escape (5:35)
2.      Line Of Fire (3:13)
3.      Lights (2:59)
4.      Stay Awhile (3:01)
5.      Open Arms (3:16)
6.      Mother Father (5:21)
7.      Jonathan Cain Piano Solo (1:55)
8.      Who's Crying Now (5:39)
9.      Where Were You (4:19)
10.     Steve Smith Drum Solo (3:51)
11.     Dead or Alive (4:02)
12.     Don't Stop Believin' (4:08)
13.     Stone in Love (5:14)
14.     Keep on Runnin (4:02)
15.     Neal Schon Guitar Solo (2:00)
16.     Wheel In The Sky (6:05)
17.     Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' (4:38)
18.     Any Way You Want It (3:46)
19.     The Party's Over (Hopelessly In Love) (4:06)

Journey's third live album and second concert DVD, Live In Houston 1981: The Escape Tour, was released in November 2005 as a CD/DVD package and in May 2006 as a separate CD. The concert was recorded on November 6, 1981for MTV back in '81, before the station was a media giant. (Actually the station was only four months old.)  At this point in Journey's career they were about the biggest rock band in the world. Where the band were hugely popular before releasing "Escape", with that album they were superstars, the album generating several hits. As such, "Live in Houston" captures Journey at a point when most fans would say they were at their peak. The performance is flawless, with the band hitting every note and Perry sounding as good as he ever has.

Frankly, I think the album bogs down a little in the middle due to the inclusion of too many mellow songs. The album opens with a couple of hard rock numbers, with the phenomenal "Line of Fire" being on of the band's finest. These two songs lead nicely into the more melodic numbers "Lights" and "Stay Awhile"; the two songs blending into each other seamlessly. However, following up with "Open Arms" shows just how sappy some of the band's 80's ballads are stacked up against superior songs like "Lights". Of course, I am a bit biased since my favorite Journey era has also been "Infinity" and "Evolution", an era that featured Neal Schon's Santana bandmate Gregg Rolie. Missing completely from this live performance is that contrast between Perry's powerhouse vox and Rolie's earthy singing. For that, you'll have to visit "Captured". However, since that live album was recorded only a year (or less) before this album, the track listing is strikingly similar with the exception of the added "Escape" tracks replacing songs like "Too Late","La Do Da" and "Feeling that Way". I like the inclusion of the various solos.  That's one thing I have always enjoyed about live recordings. Closing the CD version of this concert is, "Party's Over (Hopelessly in Love)" which was not on the DVD for whatever reason.

Though I do own several DVD concerts, I tend to spend more time listening to music than watching it, so I was glad to see "Live in Houston" get an exclusive CD release. The sound quality is quite good for a live recording from '81, especially one that hasn't been doctored to death in a studio. Though "Escape" was the album that really turned me off to Journey, due to it's over-saturation of radio-play and the overly sappy ballads included, I still find "Live in Houston 1981" to be an enjoyable live album with a good mixture of songs. I actually tend to prefer the live versions of the "Escape" songs to the glossy studio versions.

Generations Journey - Generations (Sanctuary) 2005

1.      Faith in the Heartland (6:56)
2.      The Place in Your Heart  (4:20)
3.      A Better Life  (5:40)

4.      Every Generation  (5:52)
5.      Butterfly (She Flies Alone) (5:56)
6.      Believe (5:41)
7.      Knowing That You Love Me (5:21)
8.      Out of Harms Way (5:14)
9.      In Self-Defense (3:10)
10.     Better Together (5:05)
11.     Gone Crazy (4:04)
12.     Beyond the Clouds (6:54)
13.     Never Too Late (4:59)

Generations is Journey's twelfth full-length studio album (if I did the math right) and the band's second with lead singer Steve Augeri and drummer Deen Castronovo. This line-up has stayed in tact since the late 1990's and recorded two releases including, "Arrival" (2001) and "Red 13" EP (2003). However, this was the first Journey album where all of the band members share the lead vocalist duties. Jonathan Cain sings lead on "Every Generation", the first time he sang lead since "All That Really Matters" (a b-side originally recorded for "Frontiers"). Deen Castronovo sings lead on "A Better Life" and "Never Too Late". Neal Schon provides lead vocals for "In Self Defense" and Ross Valory lends his vocals to "Gone Crazy". Steve Augeri handles the rest in fine form, adding his own twist where he can, but at other times having an uncanny resemblance to ghost from the past, Steve Perry. This is especially true on "The Place in Your Heart". This song seriously could have been recorded for "Escape" or "Frontiers" and fit right in. Likewise for "Out of Harms Way". With the wealth of vocals on this album, not all the songs sound exactly like what one would expect. Drummer Deen Castronovo's turn as lead vocalist on "A Better Life" and "Never Too Late" both produce surprisingly enjoyable results. I'm not sure why I expected any less, but both songs are good melodic rock songs (AOR). One of the other original members in the band, bassist Ross Vallory has a gravelly voice that adds a bit of rawness to Journey's otherwise polished sound. "In Self-Defense" featuring Neil Schon on vocals is a Schon, Cain and Steve Perry composition. I'm not sure of the origins of this song or how Steve Perry got involved but the song is an upbeat rocker that give Schon a chance to shine a bit. He unleashes a wicked guitar solo in this song. The album ends with "Never Too Late" a song that features the writing team of Schon, Cain and Jack Blades (Night Ranger/Damn Yankees).

"Generations" was the last album to feature Steve Augeri, who left the band in the middle of the "Generations" tour in 2006 due to a throat infection. Jeff Scott Soto replaced him and toured with the band until June 2007. "Generations" was also the last CD released by the now-defunct Sanctuary Records.

rEVELATION Journey - Revelation (Nomota) 2008

DISC ONE
1.   Never Walk Away (4:19)
2.   Like A Sunshower (4:29)
3.   Change For The Better (5:52)
4.   Wildest Dream (5:02)
5.   Faith In The Heartland (6:18)
6.   After All These Years (4:10)
7.   Where Did I Lose Your Love (5:02)
8.   What I Needed (5:28)
9.   What It Takes To Win (5:23)
10. Turn Down The World Tonight (4:56)
11. The Journey (Revelation) (5:25)
DISC TWO
1.   Only The Young (4:14)
2.   Don't Stop Believin' (4:55)
3.   Wheel In The Sky (5:01)
4.   Faithfully (4:47)
5.   Any Way You Want It (3:25)
6.   Who's Crying Now (5:16)
7.   Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (5:27)
8.   Lights (3:16)
9.   Open Arms (3:22)
10. Be Good To Yourself (4:29)
11. Stone In Love (4:27)
DISC THREE (Live in Las Vegas, NV, 2008/DVD)
1.   Sky Light
2.   Any Way You Want It
3.   Wheel In The Sky
4.   Lights
5.   After All These Years
6.   Never Walk Away
7.   Open Arms (Prelude)
8.   Open Arms
9.   Mother Father
10. Wildest Dream
11. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
12. Faithfully
13. Don't Stop Believin'
14. Be Good To Yourself

Journey's "Revelation" is their first album with new vocalist Arnel Pineda. The band had previously recorded two albums and an EP with Steve Augeri, who left the band in 2007 due to throat problems. He was initially replaced by Jeff Scott Soto who toured with the band, but ultimately did not record with them. Pineda was then hired. He was discovered by Neal Schon who saw the Phillippine singer on YouTube performing with his Journey tribute band. The new CD consists of one CD of original material, one CD of new versions of Steve Perry-era Journey hits and a DVD containing a live performance of Journey in Las Vegas, NV, USA in 2008.

The new CD is chock full of feel-good, melodic AOR. Unlike the diverse "Generations" and "Red 13" EP, the band sticks to their tried and true formula on "Revelation". Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain are the principal song writers , with little input from outside songwriters. As such songs such as feelgood rockers "Change for the Better", "Wildest Dream" and "Never Walk Away" and the the ballad "Like a Sunshower" could have been written for any Perry-era Journey release. In fact, had these songs been released in 1985, instead of 2008, they probably would have been hits for the band. "Revelation" could be Journey´s lost album from the 80's, if not for a more modern production value. As well, Arnel Pineda is strikingly similar to Steve Perry's at times. This seems especially true on the disc of re-recorded classics. However, even songs like "Like a Sunshower", there are times when he sound very similar to Perry.

Despite my usual disdain for sappy, tear-jerking ballads, I found the single "After All These Years" to be a very beautiful and touching ballad. Though the album was an independent release, initially only available at Wal-Mart stores, the single reached #9 on the Adult Contemporary charts. I can see why. The lyrics and sentiment behind the song would appeal to the 30 & 40-something crowd who by this time in their lives are mostly settled down with husbands, wives and children.

The song "Faith in the Heartland" is interesting in that it had already appeared on the previous album "Generations". I'm not really sure of why the band decided to record it again.

The closing track "The Journey (Revelation)" is a real gem on this album. It's a guitar based instrumental that is over five minutes long. On first hearing the song the first work that came to mind was "majestic". The song allows Neal Schon to demonstrate his guitar prowess, even though the song itself isn't overly flashy.

Disc two of the album consists of 11 re-recording Journey hits. The disc also basically serves as a "greatest hits" collection. Since the songs mostly sound the same as the original versions, with only some minor modifications I can only imagine they were re-recorded as a way to give people a chance to hear Arnel shine on some of their favorite songs. The final disc is a live recording of the band in Las Vegas. The four panel digi-pack also includes a 12-page booklet. The entire package is quite nice and sold for a reasonable price.

Eclipse Journey - Eclipse (Nomata) 2011

1.   City Of Hope (6:02)
2.   Edge Of The Moment (5:27)
3.   Chain Of Love (6:10)
4.   Tantra (6:27)
5.   Anything Is Possible (5:21)
6.   Resonate (5:11)
7.   She's A Mystery (6:41)
8.   Human Feel (6:44)
9.   Ritual (4:57)
10. To Whom It May Concern (5:15)
11. Someone (4:34)
12. Venus (3:34)
Neal
Neal Schon

"Eclipse" is the fourteenth studio album for Journey and marks the second release for Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, who does a commendable job. His voice is clean and passionate and unique enough to not sound like a Steve Perry clone, but similar enough so that the overall Journey feel is still very much in place.

"Eclipse" is a guitar driven AOR album that mostly consists of passionate rock and a handful of ballads. For the most part Neal Schon is in the forefront of most of these songs, while Jonathan Cain is in the background for a change. On first listen it seemed that "Eclipse" rocks a bit harder than previous material and is even more grand and epic: five tracks are longer than six minutes and four longer than five minutes. Certainly the opening tracks "City of Hope" and "Edge of the Moment" are solid, melodic hard rock. Oddly enough, one of those long tracks, "Tantra" is an epic ballad. I much prefer this type of ballad to the three minute, paint-by-number ballads that the band were doing with Perry in the band. As well, "Resonate" is really quintessential Journey. The song is a grand, melodic rock song that blurs a line between melodic rock and passionate balladry. The song also features some nice guitar solo work from Schon. "Human Feel" gives drummer Deen Castronova a chance to shine and even has a bit of a jam toward the end of the song. Overall, "Eclipse" isn't anything new for Journey, but those who enjoy the band's more guitar oriented rock of the 70's may enjoy this much more than some of the band's more sappy ballad saturated albums.

For marketing purposes, "Eclipse" was released as a Walmart exclusive CD in the U.S. and Canada to remarkable success. The CD sold 21,400 copies in the U.S. in its debut week, taking it to #13 on the Billboard charts. This was despite negative reviews from Rolling Stone Magazine and music sites like AllMusic.com.

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