Category: Journey

Journey – Evolution

ARTIST: Journey                      220px-Journey_Evolution

TITLE: Evolution

YEAR RELEASED: 1979

CHART ACTION: #20

SINGLES: Just the Same Way (#58), Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’ (#16), City of the Angels, Too Late (#70)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Probably, since you bought it in high school.

LINEUP: Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Steve Smith

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the pop / rock version of Journey finds the band very comfortable in their persona, and wrote better songs this time around.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: To be frank, the deep cuts for Journey aren’t something of magical wonder waiting to be discovered, but on this, their second album with Steve Perry, at least they’re competently written.

This is a band you bought for the hits, and while the chart action doesn’t signify it, this definitely was and is a hit based on the songs you hear on the radio to this day. “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” has the all time “nah nah nah nah nah” chorus that even the most curmudgeonly of classic rock resisters has to appreciate (if not sing along).

Perry is definitely more in control of this band, as he wrote or co-wrote every track ((and even got a co-writing credit on Schon’s guitar intro to “Too Late”. Perry sang lead on every track but one, as Gregg Rolie stepped away from the spotlight.

It’s a decent nostalgic classic rock record for geezers like me.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: More personnel turnover, as Aynsley Dunbar decamped for the Jefferson Starship, and former Ronnie Montrose, Jean-Luc Ponty and Focus(!) drummer Steve Smith joined.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No 

GRADE: B: The fact that you sing along with the choruses is proof enough the hits are good. The filler tracks don’t suck, which is an improvement.

Journey – Infinity

ARTIST: Journey                         Journey_Infinity

TITLE: Infinity

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: #21

SINGLES: Wheel In the Sky (#57), Anytime (#83), Lights (#68)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Feeling That Way

LINEUP: Neil Schon, Ross Valory, Gregg Rolie, Aynsley Dunbar, Steve Perry

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After three flop albums, Journey goes to plan B (actually B2), and scores on mainstream album rock radio and in concert.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Thanks to record companies with patience, a connected manager, and some fast talking, Journey survived after three bum albums and changed direction. Gone were the prog rock excursions, in were tight song structures. They gave room for Rolie and Schon to do their thing, (“Winds of March”) but in a concise way.

This focus on songs made all the difference. I’m not 100% convinced that Rolie couldn’t have handled the vocals like he did before, but Steve Perry’s voice is distinctive AND he brought a pop songwriting ear to the band. This album has four Journey classics – the ones that you still crank up on the radio (though two, “Feeling That Way” and “Anytime” are practically linked together and radio plays them that way).

There’s filler, of course. But this is heads and shoulders better than their other work, and only obstinate contrarians will disagree.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Robert Fleischman was the first vocalist they tried, and he co-wrote “Wheel in the Sky” and another track, but he fell out with management and Perry was hired.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B: The filler’s just there, but it’s better filler. The high points are definite “A” AOR material.

Journey – Next

ARTIST: Journey                                 Journey_Next

TITLE: Next

YEAR RELEASED: 1977

CHART ACTION: #85

SINGLES: Spaceman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You’re kidding, right?

LINEUP: Greg Rollie, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Third album for the band still find them in prog land at times, bland rock land at other times, and you wonder why they stayed on a label.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The third record from this band of ex-West Coast bands had elements of guitar rock and prog, and is…BORING AS FUCK. No really, it is.

The songs meander and wander, allowing Neal Schon and Greg Rollie space to solo, and only on the title cut does the energy pick up. The rest of just generic rock and balladeering, played with competence but not brilliance.

While some are (still?) upset that they moved to a more pop direction with the addition of a lead singer (see below), the fact is that they’d have been dropped and no one would remember them had they not changed direction. These albums would just be dust in the library.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: First, they never performed the single in concert, which is odd. They also didn’t record the album with a front man, but soon after hired Robert Fleischmann, who was there briefly, co-writing some tracks. He left and then the band found Steve Perry.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: I had to wake myself up to write this review. EXILED

Journey – Look into the Future

ARTIST: Journey                         Journey_Look_Future

TITLE:  Look into the Future

YEAR RELEASED: 1976

CHART ACTION: #100

SINGLES: On a Satuday Night, She Makes Me (Feel Alright)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, no, no.

LINEUP: Greg Rollie, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Ex-members of Santana and other bands try again, shedding some of their prog-rock excursions. The songs let them down.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Journey’s second album finds a quartet trying to find a sound that’s natural for them, but also commercial. They’re kinda successful, in a way. At least they’re trying to be commercial.

The lead cut “On a Satuday Night” is an attempt to have that ‘feel good rock-and-roll’ tune, but it seems a little stiff and lyrically daft. They don’t fare much better with their ballads, nor their more proggy explorations on side two.

The worst idea is covering a mediocre deep Beatles cut (“It’s All Too Much” – a song that was shunted off to the Yellow Submarine soundtrack) and doing it in a sped-up way that ruins any meaning and spirit the song had.

By now, it was obvious that Rollie and Schon and company needed help to gain success, especially in song writing.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Original member George Tickner left during pre-production having co-written two songs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C:  Well, um…the best that I can say is that they’re trying. But this album is trying, too. EXILED.

Journey – Journey

ARTIST: Journey Journey_self_titled

TITLE:  Journey

YEAR RELEASED: 1975

CHART ACTION: #138

SINGLES: To Play Some Music

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW:  You have no reason to.

LINEUP: Gregg Rolie, Neal Schon, George Tickner, Ross Valory, Aynsley Dunbar

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A little psychedelic progressive jazzy fusiony Santana-esque record that in no way shape or form sounds anything like the Journey any knows.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If this band wasn’t named Journey, but you knew that this band contained former members of Santana, Frank Zappa’s band and a psychedelic band from San Francisco, you’d probably expect the results here. Long-ish songs, focusing on guitar and progressive / jazz stylings.

If you are die-hard into the more jazzy, instrumental version of Santana or like long-ish explorations, then sure, why not? It’s kind of mediocre, as none of these guys were main songwriters in their bands, and it shows. Rollie’s vocals were fine for Santana, but here, they sound limp. Schon can play, sure, all of these guys can play. The issue is that sometimes they play too much.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Prairie Prince was slated to be the drummer, but he stuck to drumming for the Tubes and the band recruited Dunbar.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C:  You really have to like progressive / jazz-fusion fusion to like this. EXILED