The answer is you have not listened to this song enough times.
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Of a Lifetime A
Whoah, this is a loose, seven-minute tune that concentrates mainly on over-extended, acid-tinged guitar solos more than anything else. There's a vocal melody here, but it's so placid that it comes across more like a calm between the storms of electric guitar fits. The vocal melody is OK though mostly forgettable. It's the electric guitar that recycles an interesting theme throughout the piece. The intensity driven by the electric guitar manages to increase gradually as time goes by, which makes this quite an engaging listen.
In the Morning Day A-
This is another excellent jammy song. This starts out rather slowly and somewhat reminiscent of gospel, with an involved vocal melody and a few slow piano chords. Then, halfway through, they flip a switch and start to jam! Whereas the previous song concentrated mainly on the guitar prowess of Schon, this one showcases Rolie's stabbing, electric organ. That is, until the last minute when Schon gives his two-cents with a fast and ripping solo.
Whereas the previous two songs might not have given me too many impressions of prog, this one seems most tailor-made for the style. It's almost purely instrumental, too, and it develops very slowly at first. As this starts out, it's rather like a piano ballad. ...While I appreciate that there are quieter moments here, my one complaint is that I wish there was a little more texture to them, as these seem somewhat blank. They're little more like the stuff you're listening to while you wait for Schon's electric guitar noodles to come up. ...Now, when they do come up, the song becomes quite exciting, particularly during a Mahavishnu-like electric guitar and synthesizer interchange in the middle of this.
To Play Some Music A
Ah, here we go. Yes please, play some music! Just a three-minute song this time, and it packs a punch. The main organ riff is simple but it catches my ear. Some electric guitar thrown in during the refrains offer a darker texture. The accompanying vocal melody is probably the best the album has to over, even if it still isn't a “pop” melody.
Like “Kohoutek,” this is a lengthy tune more on a proggy vein. Unlike that song, however, the quieter parts succeed better in creating a “mystifying” atmosphere which I would associate with those tried-and-true proggy bands that I nerd-out over so much. This has the twinkling and noodly electric guitar, quiet and whooshing cymbals, keyboards making jangling sounds. But in good fashion, a fast bass rhythm eventually pipes up and jams begin to happen. Yes, another fun early Journey song.
In My Lonely Feeling / Conversations B+
Man oh man, I gave this song a right ole lashing in my original review of this album! I have no idea why I would have done that, either, other than perhaps it's a little slower than the rest. Nonetheless, this song is based on some pretty heavy power chords and more truly excellent electric guitar playing from Schon.
Mystery Mountain A-
And the album ends with an exciting whoosh, one of the heavier groove songs of the lot. I suppose this is evidence you might have to ding the album, as a whole, a point or two for lacking much diversity, as this isn't fundamentally much different than anything else here. Electric organ playing some caramel grooves and heavy electric guitar noodling. But the atmosphere they create here is dense, and there are some genuine flits of excitement halfway through.
Look Into the Future (1976)
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On a Saturday Nite A
Right away, it seems there was already a push to give a poppier spin to their sound. They evidently took a few hints from Supertramp here, as this sounds exactly like one. It's also just as good as one. The piano is bouncy and the involved vocal melody is catchy. This new approach leaves Neal Schon's electric guitar playing merely in the margins (particularly during the fade out when it is allowed to go nuts). However, the melody is certainly teriffic, so it all ends up working for me!
It's All Too Much A-
More Supertramp stuff this time but with a less catchy melody, though it does still have a decent hook. I wonder why more people don't listen to these early Journey albums? They're just as good as the more celebrated ones, if not better. Gregg Rolie might not have chops quite like Perry's but his voice could soar, too.
This is an atmospheric and rather heavy ballad... and not nearly as maudlin as the power-ballads they would be famous for in the height of their careers. (I mean... not that I don't like some of those songs.) The musicianship here is amazing, though. That spooky, slide guitar I hear in the background gives me the shivers, and that melody--once again--is fantastic.
She Makes Me (Feel Alright) A
This one has a heavy riff that's catchy, and I like it! I'd even be tempted to call it heavy metal. Just a short song (three minutes) that packs enough of a punch that you cannot ignore it. Schon's guitar solo in the final third is fast 'n' flashy.
You're On Your Own A+
Well... giving this song an A+ is probably unfair considering how obvious it is that this was modeled after The Beatles' “I Want You (You're So Heavy),” and I really don't think this song makes any improvements on it--apart, I guess, from it being faster and containing some really energetic grooves. It may be more fun for some listeners for that reason, though it doesn't have near the psychological impact on me. ...But this is Journey, so it's not like I expect them to have any psychological impacts on me! All the same, Journey always has been an entertaining band, and this is certainly that.
Look Into the Future A
This song is amazing. I'm not even kidding. It's 8 minutes long--longer than anything on their proggy debut album--but it isn't particularly proggy. It's an extended ballad with plenty of dreamy Hammond organ and dramatic crescendos galore. The riffs do admittedly get a bit droney at times, but the crescendos do help give the song quite a lot of development. This is mostly instrumental, but the vocal melody when it surfaces is soulful, and Rolie's vocals are fantastic. ...But what most people are going to listen to the most is Schon's electric guitar playing--which very well may be the best he's ever done on a Journey album. Well certainly at least, it's different than his arena-rock playing. Excellent song here.
Midnight Dreamer A
The type of song with a lot of cowbell. (What I mean is literally there is cowbell in this song.) This song has a fast-paced, killer riff, energetic and frantic lead vocals, and just another thrill-ride. Still--and I'd might as well keep repeating it--this is substantially different than their AOR stuff and probably better suited for Santana fans instead of Journey fans (or Boston fans, or what have you). But for music of that sort, I'm surprised to hear how effective this is. The song develops in a rather complex manner such that it crescendos flawlessly throughout. The grooves are endlessly entertaining, and the electric guitar solos are fantastic.
I'm Gonna Leave You A
The final song of the album is yet another solid one. That makes this possibly the most consistent Journey album on the planet. This is another heavy and fast-paced groove-song, seven-minutes long, containing some absolutely blistering organ and electric guitar solos. Lots of catchy riffs are thrown in here to help keep this addicting for its entire duration. Once again Rolie's vocals are heavy and--this time--even a bit glammy.
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It's hard for me not to want to compare this directly with the song that opened Look Into the Future, which was a bouncy and fun Supertramp-ish pop tune. This is also a pop tune but a ballad and kind of a … wimpy one. (Oh wait... Journey were the kings of wimpy ballads, weren't they? Sometimes I forget who I am listening to.) Actually seems to take a lot of obvious hints from Elton John's “Rocket Man.” And somehow that's not at all because of the similar song titles. It's Rolie's vocal performance, which adopts Elton John's mannerisms. (Hear how Rolie songs “Ooh, I'm not a spaceman, no, no.” If he wasn't listening to “Rocket Man” before singing that, then I'll be a pickled cucumber.) ...OK, this might be the poor man's “Rocket Man,” but that doesn't stop me from really liking it. I mean, the instrumental textures are engaging and the melody is gorgeous. What more do you need? Just because Elton John did it better doesn't mean this song can't also be enjoyable.
Oooo, this is the closest thing we get to the classic Journey sound in this pre-Steve Perry trilogy. All that's missing is Steve Perry. (Or even, more generally, flamboyant lead vocals, as Rolie's vocals here are more or less flat and uninvolved.) ...It's that smooth and tight atmosphere they create here, really providing a nice texture for my ears to sink into. Midway through the drama does pick up where we get zippy synthesizer solo and … probably the most crowd-pleasingly flashy electric guitar solo Schon has ever done so far. ...Yes, indeed! I do believe this song shows Journey gearing up for their commercially successful days!
I Would Find You B
Ohhh. Well here's a six minute song. Whereas lengthy songs like that had me positively excited in the previous album, this song is …..... a bit of a drag. Though I do like that mystical, Middle Eastern-like bendy synthesizer solo that starts this off. After that, all we get is a heavy and very slowly developing dirge. Some buzzy and bendy electric guitar chords do lend it a foreboding flavor, and there's a little bit of soloing toward the end that's nice... but it's ultimately too little too late. Overall a good effort and I hardly get the urge to press the 'skip' button on this, but this would constitute something of a misfire.
Here We Are B+
Hello there! ...This song starts out with heavy, dreamy--and dreary--pure synthesizer chords. Hey, what happened to the Hammond organ, anyway? (Oh, Rolie must be preparing me for Journey's classic albums!) ...I do like this song, but like the previous one it develops very slowly without providing an entertaining groove to listen to, apart from its very last minute when some momentum finally starts to pick up. Schon is also far too absent throughout this; his electric guitar is kept merely in the background.
Well this is definitely more like it! It starts out right away with some lightning-fast electric guitar licks, before delivering a heavy riff. There are lots of things to listen to here. Though it doesn't quite have that gradual, flawlessly developing momentum that some songs in their previous album had. Also, the riff isn't really that catchy. ...But my god, this thing is littered with Schon's show-offey electric guitar licks, and somehow I care about that.
Oh my goodness, there are power-chords. Is this album leading into Infinity or what? ...I mean, this song is muddy, gritty, and ugly--making it totally unlike the glistening studio magic of Infinity--but still... it's not like Infinity came out of nowhere. ...I still have to lament that Rolie spends so much time singing in this and Schon is reduced to licking away faintly in the background, regrettably, until the final minute when the groove gets quicker and heavier, and Schon starts going to town. The vocal melody is pretty good, but it isn't great. The riff doesn't quite capture my ears as well as songs in their previous album. Quite good as a whole, but misses the mark.
Nickel and Dime A-
An instrumental! It's not a spectacular one, but it at least gives Schon and Rolie the excuse to noodle around exclusively throughout this. Rolie is using a synthesizer here instead of the Hammond organ he would have used in the previous two albums. Also unlike the previous albums they're playing flashy here, as opposed to bluesy. I'm not sure I prefer that style, as they had proven to be excellent blues soloists. But... they were preparing... for... the arrival... of...
This is an appropriate send-off to pre-Perry Journey if there ever was one. And I will miss this, believe me. (At the same time, I have my cigarette lighters ready. I shall be smelling the burning flesh of my thumbs very soon.) This is the roughest, muddiest, grittiest, and HEAVIEST Journey song of all time. I mean, listen to this song and try to refrain from bobbing your head righteously to it. And my goodness, this riff is catchy, something Black Sabbath would have been proud of for sure. (But would Sabbath have had those keyboards? ...Probably not. Well, this is Journey, after all.) Anyway, this is my favorite song of the album. My only complaint is I wish it were longer. This called for 9 minutes of blistering jamming! But all they give me is 5! ...Boo!
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Come one and all, break out your cigarette lighters! ...Now I've listened to many great Journey songs that came before this song; however, this is the first famous one, and thus it marks the true beginning of this band's legacy. As far as ballads go, this one is about as mawkish as it gets. Though that would seem to be sort of the point of the song, after all, one of the most immediately recognizable power ballads in existence. What makes the song great is not particularly the style itself, but the fact it pulls off the style so well. (After all, I can easily harbor some resentment towards this for inspiring a whole slew of horrible imitators!) The melody sticks in my mind, nags at me, and becomes pretty quickly something I would want to sing along with.
Feeling the Way A-
Can this song, and the next one, be seen as the ones in which Rolie formally hands off lead vocal duties to Perry? Both are duets. Rolie holds his own well in this, but whenever Perry takes over, he's … well ...he's floating 20 feet off the ground! This is also surprisingly a good song. I say “surprisingly” because normal AOR albums only have one good song. This is two already! It's a mid-tempo rocker this time that generates some momentum and delivers a melody that's interesting enough to catchy my ears.
Rollie takes lead vocals for this exclusively except for a small part in the chorus, but in spite of that this surely has the classic Journey sound, even if it might not be one of the big hits. Thick vocals in the chorus, simple but heavy guitar instrumentation. The melody is quite good. Schon, of course, takes a flashy solo here and there.
LA DO DA A
They would fail Julie Andrews' school for that “DA” bit. ...But, wait a second, this is POWER ROCK!!!!!!!! This one features some tight guitar riffs that make rumbly noises while Steve Perry wails over it a perfectly decent melody. Rolie gives his two cents with a little Jerry Lee Lewis style ivory tickling.
Oh boy. This song is corny, wussy, sappy ...but it is so beautiful! It's like everything Styx ever tried to be, except it is good. Can you imagine such a thing? That sweet melody the song starts with perks up my ears immediately. The bits in the middle where Schon starts going to town with his guitar are less catchy, but … well he's going to town with his guitar, right?
Wheel in the Sky A+
Now, this is good. It's one of the band's classic arena-rock anthems... and, you know, it's kind of unusual for an arena-rock song. For a start, it begins with some gentle Medieval-ish chords that makes me think I'm listening to Gabriel-era Genesis. But then the main parts of the song has a kind of clompy, mid-tempo rhythm reminds me a little bit of country-western music. (Not to mention that dark, grumbly guitar riff makes me want to scream “Rawhide!” out loud for some reason.) But those heavy, layered vocals and polished sheen to the song is pure arena-rock.
Somethin' to Hide A-
It's hard for me to say, really, why I am still responding well to this song, even if I can't say it's particularly different than anything else here. In fact, sandwiched between “Wheels in the Sky” and “Winds of March” it kind of gets lost. Like any good Journey song, this is serious as sin. On the other hand, this nonetheless makes a pleasant listen---the soft chorus particularly in the outro.
Winds of March A
Oh boy, here is another wussy ballad, but of course that's the kind of thing you sign up for with a band like Journey. And, besides, it's another well-written one and good sounding one. Soft keyboards, good melody, ridiculously melodramatic singing. ...What else can be said? This is classic Journey. The best thing about the song, though is they take the opportunity to jam out midway through---of course far more streamlined than the acidic way they jammed out in their first three albums, but hearing these guys rock out some keyboard and guitar solos continues to be massively entertaining.
Can Do A-
I'll have to keep saying... I really don't like Journey's style that much, especially since pretty much everything post-Perry could be divvied up into two categories. However, even though I'm listening to another song with flashy power chords and heavily layered vocals, I have to continue to recognize that it's well-written and entertaining. The fast paced, Zeppelin-esque riff isn't that interesting, but it does plenty to engage my brain. God knows this is better than Kiss at least!
Opened the Door A
...Oh, what the hell, I'll give this song an A. It starts with a twinkly piano, so that must mean this is another cheese-eating Journey ballad. But once again, I am drawn into it. The chord progression and arpeggios engage me nicely, and then Steve Perry's soaring vocal melody is … well … catchy. That makes this a good, epic ballad to close the album off with.
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Just a one-minute overture that starts with a gentle acoustic guitar pattern, and then a bunch of heavy power chords, and then a chorus of faint “Aaahh” vocals. It's good as an overture, and I suppose appropriate for another overblown Journey record.
Too Late B+
This is another well-done (maudlin) Journey ballad, but it sounds so much like all the others that I have my work cut out for me trying to come up with new things to say about it. It doesn't quite inspire me to gently wave a cigarette lighter in the air like “Lights” did from the previous album, but it's another heavy and well polished song with quite a decent melody.
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' A
I like this one in particular, the slow and heavy pounding blues riff and Perry delivers a catchy vocal melody to support it. It's simple but captures my attention. It ends with a repetitive chorus that picks up some momentum, as all repetitive choruses should do. ...Yes indeed, these guys knew what they were doing!
City of the Angels A-
Perry finally got to do his song about L.A. after his producer prompted him to make “Lights” about San Francisco at the last minute. ...By the way, all Journey songs start sounding essentially the same after awhile. On one hand, they knew how to do these kinds of songs very well. On the other hand, it makes it very hard to try to come up with new things about them. This is another mid-tempo rocker, heavily polished, good melody, and entertaining. The way Journey does it.
When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy) B+
This one has a flashy, and fitfully catchy power-pop riff and thus might tend to be one of the songs I'd tend to remember most from this album. The melody is OK, and the vocal performance is of course on spot as usual. But at the same time, it doesn't have that something that gives me the want to listen to it over and over again.
Sweet and Simple B
An altogether decent R&B ballad with an OK melody and very little more than that, unfortunately. That is, unless you are particularly impressed with Perry's ability to deliver a soulful melody as good as any diva could. The melody is fine, but it's nothing that grabs me. ...I'm glad at least this was cut in the '70s before other musicians would have drenched this with heavy synthesizers. This is kept organic for the most part--honest piano and fairly nice guitar noodling.
Lovin' You is Easy B+
An above averagely decent power-pop song with a decent hook and, of course, professional instrumental playing with Schon taking another fine solo in the middle third. There's nothing major here to set it apart from the rest of the album, but rather just a component that makes this album the overall solid creation that it is.
Just the Same Way B+
An Elton John style piano starts this one up and provides a little momentum. Greg Rolie takes lead vocal duties for this one and sings a fitfully good melody. The chorus has a Beatles-esque resolution, which piques my ears. Another averagely good song for the album: Nothing that pops out at me, but it's all finely entertaining.
Do You Recall B
This is a pretty nifty power-pop tune, another song that's well-put-together and catchy but doesn't totally rock my world. I like Schon's electric guitar performance, which gets some juice flowing, but I do wish the chorus was a little more electric.
Looks like Journey were getting a head start on the '80s, as this ballad starts out with a haze of synthesizers that create peaceful, mesmerizing atmosphere. The end result is beautiful, and so is the melody! The chorus, as it picks up, becomes more standard power-pop fare with some heavier power chords. And that was also done well, particularly the final chorus, where Schon augments it with one of the more blistering, ear-entrapping solos of this disc.
Lady Luck A-
And the album ends with a solid rocker. I wouldn't call the melody catchy, or anything, particularly as the vocals from Perry tend to focus on wild, Zeppelin-esque stylistics as opposed to pop hooks. However, this has a good riff, some intricate guitar textures, and nice chord changes strewn throughout. Schon lets out another electric guitar solo that nobody would ever find fault with. Solid album closer.
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Any Way You Want It A+
We've all heard this glorious monster about a billion times. I'm in general agreement with the vast majority of anyone out there that this is about the best stadium-rock classic there can be: it is so polished that it glistens. It's a pop friendly wonder with absolutely nothing offensive about it whatsoever. It has a catchy melody that's been stuck in our heads all our lives (and even if it hasn't, just give it five listens and it'll seem like it). Neal Schon gives a guitar solo in the final third, and--again--it's flashy, fun, but not mixed in so loudly, as a guitar solo would never be the point of a song like this. Even your grandma loves the POWER CHORUS! Heavily layered vocals, polished keyboards, streamlined everything. It plays it safe. But it works, 'cos it's catchy.
Walks Like a Lady B+
Well at this point I wonder if I'm just going to be harsh on Journey songs that aren't immediately catchy since that's really all they've been good for ever since Steve Perry joined the band. And unfortunately they can't always come up with songs like “Anyway You Want it.” This is a low-down, bluesy tune that's well arranged and does pick up a little dust. Solid and professional as this band is always good for, but it doesn't inspire me a whole lot.
Someday Soon B+
This is a heavy ballad which Rolie sings lead vocals (and the collective of Journey fans say “Why?”), but as I've always said Rolie is a good singer. This ballad is so heavy, though, that I almost wish it was played faster. It comes off, to me, a little sluggish. However, the melody is fine, so I'm still entertained by it more or less.
People and Places B
Yeah, these incredibly dramatic, ridiculously melodramatic ballads seemed to work better in Infinity only because the melodies could perk up my ears in their first few seconds. This song starts dully with a spacey, twinkle-twinkle organ texture. However, I will give it credit where it's due since the song does manage to pick up dust in the chorus, which has a few OK hooks, but mostly because of Perry's piercing vocal performance.
Precious Time A-
This is a good rocker. A mightily good rocker. I am not in love with it, but that's OK. It picks up a groove, though, and carries us along with it.You can tap your foot to it. I wish the melody was catchier, though. I like the soaring, extended harmonica, as the song fades out.
Where Were You B+
I was right here! Sitting where I belong, in a dark room. Listening to old rock 'n' roll records. ...This song has more of that head-banging quality to it, which makes me like it pretty well. The electric guitar infused throughout this has some nice grit to it. My complaint is the chorus comes off a bit flat. It's like “Any Way You Want” it sucked all the good chorus out of them.
I'm Cryin' A
Now this song is good. I never really think it's one of Journey's forte to play emotional songs, but they pulled it off with this one. Steve Perry is about as good singing this as Shirley Bassey is singing “Thunderball.” Maybe this would have made a good James Bond theme?
Line of Fire B
Journey were a very solid act at this point, but this boogie-rocker doesn't quite catch a foothold. The song production is perfect, and Schon's expected showman's guitar solo halfway through is expectedly great, but I wish the melody caught me a little more.
Just a very brief instrumental. I guess as much as I criticize Journey for making Infinity III, they did manage to randomly come up with an atmospheric instrumental, even if it's only 38 seconds long. Why didn't they make it longer? It reminds me of a 30-second sample you might hear on iTunes for David Bowie's “Moss Garden.”
Good Morning Girl B+
Oooh, they're layering on the schmaltz with this one. Perry singing to the stars amidst some twinkly guitar and a sweeping section. But that doesn't mean I can't like it. The melody is pretty OK.
Stay Awhile B+
This is a pretty good doo-wop ballad. I like it. Doing updated versions of songs like these were truly Journey's speciality at this point (beyond, I guess, their arena-rock classics), and I'm glad they were so solid at it.
Homemade Love B
This one's more of a heavy Zeppelin-esque rocker. It has a few tight 'n' heavy riffs, which you would come to expect from something being described as Zeppelin-esque. No question, Journey could pull off a song like this with the best of 'em... without of course managing to come up with something to quite match the best Zeppelin had to offer.
Natural Thing B
This is a bonus track, and it's probably a good thing they kept this off the original release, since this would have been one too many ballad at this point. Especially since this comes off more sluggish than “Stay Awhile.” They still pull this off well, though, with a melody that captures my attention reasonably well and of course solid song production.
Little Girl A-
This bonus track is pretty good, even though it's another ballad and I just got off telling Journey: Hey guys, enough with the ballads. This is off their soundtrack album, Dream After Dream. I'll talk about that album pretty soon, so you'll just have to hold your horses if you want to read more of my thoughts about this song.
Dream, After Dream (1980)
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A big part of me wants to express a little bit of disappointment over the fact that Journey could have been writing complex, atmospheric, and genuinely proggy songs like this all along. The other part of me would rather crank up “Any Way You Want It” for the hundredth time! But at any rate, this oft-neglected album in Journey's repertoire is utterly gorgeous. It's eight minutes long and fills that time nicely. The first five minutes or so is a beautiful ballad with a brooding, majestic atmosphere to it. The orchestration in spots sounds like I'm listening to an excerpt from an early 20th Century symphony—and to my ears anyway it almost works on that level. What 20th Century symphonies don't have that this song has, though, is Steve Perry delivering a soaring, airy vocal melody that occasionally culminate into hundreds of heavy, overdubbed voices singing “Fly Away.” In the middle, a heavy, exciting beat suddenly manifests itself, and it truly gets the blood pumping. Schon gets his lead guitar in on that action, too, of course, letting out a few growls. Then there's the return of the atmospheric theme that opened it, except Schon delivers a beautiful extended solo. Hearing him do that sort of makes me wish he'd left Journey and just release instrumental guitar music! (But I guess that's why we have Joe Satriani.) … The final minute or so is sort of creepy incidental music, I guess. This was a soundtrack movie, after all. There must have been some kind of creepy thing lurking in the background.
Snow Theme B+
This is an instrumental with a piano and strings. ...You know, I do listen to a lot of soundtrack albums. Maybe this isn't nearly as complex or beautiful as something I would hear from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, but it's a nice overall composition. The theme is something that would surely catch my ear if I were watching it in a film, and I may even remember when I heard it. Listening to this alone, though, my only complaint is its central melody-line is played three times with almost zero variation. You're supposed to repeat lines of melody in instrumentals, but there should be something new about it every time it's reintroduced. Otherwise it gets stale.
This is a lot like the beginning parts of “Destiny,” except it's more jazz based than classical. (You know, it has a steady drum beat throughout, bass guitar, and drums pattering away ever-so-lightly.) The mood is mellow, and there's a string section and keyboard arpeggios that keeps the atmosphere light and airy. Of course those instruments can't soar more than Steve Perry's voice, and he sounds beautiful there. Some saxophone solos surface by the middle of the track, and it's positively golden. Like—I guess—a sunrise glowing on a sandcastle! ...Man, as much as I like the big hit they'd do on their next album, can they please just forget all that stuff and release albums with only songs like this?
A Few Coins B+
Another instrumental, but only 40 seconds long. It starts with a sort of Asiatic guitar playing a few mysterious arpeggios and then a bendy flute (also of Asiatic persuasion) flutters around for a bit. Actually it's sort of impressive Journey could pull off a song like this. A little bit like they were actually talented musicians. (Who would have guessed??????)
Moon Theme A-
Journey made a few impressive attempts at instrumentals here without the heavy use of guitars or drums... but the instrumentals where they do use guitars and drums, it's always going to be better. Simply because these are hallmark features of progressive rock bands, and Journey were a progressive rock band. (Well, here they were a progressive rock band, anyway.) The instrumental theme here is actually pretty catchy—which Schon delivers with a heavily soaring guitar. Again quite mellow, though everything here is. There's some cute harp scales at the end of this. That has got to be almost the opposite of what you would expect to hear in a Journey album released in 1980.
When the Love Has Gone B+
The good thing about this song is something that should make Neil Schon fans immediately put down everything and listen to this track. That is, this is four minutes of him noodling around with his guitar, and he comes up with some pretty incredible lines. (Gregg Rolie also twinkles his keyboards a bit to fill in some of the gaps that Schon leaves open.) ...My complaint about this is more in terms of this being so dreary and downbeat. Sure the whole album is moody is atmospheric, but other songs had a sweeping string section to pick it up. This one—other than Schon's guitar, which is entertaining in its own right—just seems stationary.
Festival Dance B+
Haha! What I would give to be in the room Journey were in when they came up with this instrumental. It's so uncharacteristic of them. Just a one-minute instrumental of a quiet but jangly acoustic guitar, a light, tribal drum beat with clapping (which I'm picturing every Journey member participating in), and some twinkly sound effects. Then at the end of it there's some gurgling noises.
The Rape B
Well given the title of this particular song I guess I can understand why it's moody. (And describing this track as moody is an understatement.) What was this movie about? It's a classical instrumental mainly. Some dreary horns play a sullen progression while there's someone constantly banging on a chime amongst some moaning sounds. It only lasts two minutes, so it really doesn't give you enough time to slit your wrists. Impressive that Journey would come up with something like this anyway.
Little Girl A
Yeah, I know I gave this ballad an A- when it previously appeared in the bonus tracks of Departure, and this is the very same song. Simply, this song sounds a whole lot better cap-stoning this instrumental album than it did tacked on at the end of a stadium-rock album. You see, the record company people must assume that nobody in their right minds would buy a Journey record that was only released in Japan, and the world had a right to hear this song! This is a ballad, and a pretty one at that.
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This is a 40-second snippet from the 1-minute intro to Evolution. All I get are heavy “Aahs” and some soaring electric guitar with screams all over the place drowning it out.
Where Were You B+
Not the most memorable Journey song there ever was, but it does have a pretty heavy pulse, and it gives Neal Schon the excuse to pump out a heavy groove. That's OK, because they're giving their audience up before they delivered the songs they most wanted to hear.
Just the Same Way B
I guess they're still building up the audience with this song that Gregg Rolie takes lead vocals on. It was a fitfully good track in the album, and it works pretty well live. (This album would be Rolie's final Journey album by the way... I suppose all the money & fame he could ever hope for wasn't enough for him...)
Line of Fire B+
These songs are almost medley-style by the way. Each track is bleeding into another. Which is pretty nice I suppose since the fans get to hear more songs that way. Again, I don't think this boogie-rocker is anyone's favorite Journey song, but it's loud and fast and Schon gets to let out a few towering lines. This is what people want to hear in live performances.
See, this was the early '80s before technology and lung cancer existed, so you can imagine people were gently waving around cigarette lighters instead of cellphones with the flashlight function turned on. (Though—I don't know about you—but a large stadium filled with people waving glowing orbs around in lieu of tiny flickering flames that's burning people's thumbs does look somewhat mystifying.) ...Oh and Journey are finally getting around to singing a song that I wanted to hear. It's no question that this was one of the ultimate heavy stadium ballads, and here you can witness it in its natural environment.
Stay Awhile A-
Haha! They don't even let “Lights” end before they launched straight into this other ballad. Come to think of it, I guess, the songs do sound alike.
Too Late B+
Steve Perry talks to everyone! He points out a microphone on stage to the crowd, asking them if they see it. I like how this prompts thousands of bat-shrieks that collectively make out a “Yeah” sound! Then he informs them they are recording a live album. I bet everyone in that crowd owns this record to this day and probably listens to it from time to time, trying to make out their individual bat-shriek from the din! ...Oh and they perform another ballad. It's exactly like the album version, but it should come to no surprise that's exactly the kind of album this is.
Dixie Highway A-
Well here's something: A brand new Journey song that never appeared on a studio album. It's almost eight minutes long and provides a series of great, blood-pumping grooves. (Sometimes the groove runs, other times it slows down to a trot.) No doubt, this band was great at producing grooves that sound good in the stadium, so this is terrifically fun to listen to. Melodically speaking, there's nothing particularly great here. However, Rolie lets out some Hammond organ trills that are pretty great, and Schon takes an extended solo or two. Very nice.
Feeling That Way A-
I would not try to convince anybody to include this album in their collection, since these songs usually sound better in the studio cuts. However, I won't deny that I'm having fun going through these tracks. This is one of the better melodies Journey had come up with, so this will of course make a good listen.
Whenever I hear this song pipe up, I think I'm about to hear them sing a cover of Queen's “Fat Bottomed Girls.” But I guess Queen's song starts with “Aaaahhh” and Journey's song starts with “Ooooh.” ...Anyway, of all the songs they could have picked from Infinity they chose this one instead of some others they could have gone with. However I guess this was one of the songs which Gregg Rolie could sing lead vocals.
Do You Recall B
I guess there are some questionable song choices here, but if I were at this concert I doubt the level of fun would be diminishing too much at this point. It has a fitfully decent melody and a beat you could tap your foot to.
Walks Like a Lady B+
Would you like to hear some blues? ...Sure why not? Steve Perry introduces some of the band, who he says are some of the best blues players in the biz. I'm glad he pronounces Gregg Rolie's name, since I wasn't sure if it was Roll-ie, or Raw-lie. It's the former, evidently. This rendition of the song from Evolution is a little more down-low than the album version, and it's easier to pick out some of Rolie's rolling Hammond organ.
La Do Da A-
This is one of those Journey songs I especially like. But you know the melody here isn't really that great, it's only marginally better than the average non-hit Journey song. What this song does even more efficiently than a song like “Do You Recall” is it hits a HEAVY GROOVE and never lets up. I don't even want it to end. And Journey KNEW as much about the song, since they extend it for seven minutes. Of course Schon ushers forth a rapid-fire electric guitar solo, which is righteous enough to make anyone in that crowd drool. This also has an extended bass and extended drum solo. ...Yeah, why not give those guys a chance to shine? The drum solo is pretty fun, as far as those go anyway, since it's rhythmic. It's mixed well in stereo, too, so listening to it is a bit like listening to popcorn.
Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin' A
Hmmm... the concert has been going on for a little while, and here is a song that we all no doubt wanted to hear. Uh oh! Brace yourselves kiddos, this must mean the concert is almost over! ...This track starts out with something pretty cute, though: Perry offers to take the entire crowd on tour with them. (If only, right?) There is a certain freshness to this song that you don't get in the studio version, but I would still recommend people become fans of the studio cut before giving this live album a try. Schon's electric guitar performance in the middle of this is completely on fire.
Wheel in the Sky A+
Yee-haw! ...My favorite Journey song for most of my life has been “Don't Stop Believin',” but I'm noticing my devotions are slowly gravitating towards this one. How many stadium-rock cowboy songs are there that you can think of? The melody is also just as catchy as best of everything this band has come up with, and its groove is so infectious that I'd imagine you could do a pretty wild cowboy dance to it. Schon lets his guitar flail all of the place again... and it's awesome as always.
Any Way You Want It A
See? I'm becoming such a fan of “Wheel in the Sky” that it makes “Any Way You Want It” pale a bit in comparison. Of course this song is still the tight 'n' loud stadium-rock classic that it was designed to be, and it's a total blast. The audience here sounded pretty eager to fill in some of the brief gaps Perry left them to fill. (And these are only the slightest gaps, so they don't completely stop the song or anything to let the audience sing extended portions. That sort of thing ruins some live songs sometimes, but Journey didn't fall into that trap.)
The Party's Over (Hopelessly in Love) B
This sounds like a studio song that was tacked on the end of this album. It sounds new wave or something, with a squeaky-clean drum beat, bass guitar, and poppy keyboards. (But Schon grooves around with a dirty guitar, which may have been a last ditch attempt to Journey-fy this song.) ...It's sort of catchy, I guess. It doesn't really fit in their normal albums, so they had might as well have released it here.
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Don't Stop Believin' A+
We all know this one by heart, right, whether we want to or not? All you have to do is listen to the opening piano riff, and then it goes from there. Journey were always pretty good at making songs sound BIG and perfect for the stadium environment. But when find a catchy melody to sing, then they come up with a song that resonates through the generations. This song is so good that even the cover version by the cast of Glee doesn't completely suck.
Stone in Love A-
And this begins the songs on this album that are not “Don't Stop Believin'.” But rest assured it's still a pretty decent song. It begins with Steve Perry singing to a candy-coated guitar riff. Then he hits the chorus, and it's something memorable. Neal Schon lets out a few licks in the second half. No, this is not bad at all.
Who's Cryin' Now B+
Not me! Because here is another perfectly entertaining, candy-coated Journey song. The production is so smooth and silky that it almost detracts from it. I guess as much as I probably preferred Journey explore a pop-rock vein, maybe something like this which excludes the riff-pumping Neal Schon from continuous action, I start to miss the old ways. (What can I say, I'm never completely satisfied?) The melody is strong here anyway, with a nice chorus that begs me to sing along.
Keep on Runnin' A-
Neal Schon is back pumping away at his guitar, and all was good again in the world of Journey! The groove is so tight and clean that it sounds well adapted to the burgeoning new wave scene but while still feeling like a Journey song. This is also continuing to show the group as better songwriters than they had been in the past, since this features a chorus with some pretty potent hooks in it. The song production of course is as good as it always was and of course Steve Perry is going to town.
Still They Ride B+
Oh man, when this song starts up—which sounds like a lite-gospel tune—I think it's going to be so lame. But then Steve Perry starts to sing the chorus, and it all comes together magically. The song becomes airborne, like a thousand tiny bubbles. Then Neal Schon reminds us why he exists, and he lets 'er rip with a rapid-fire guitar solo. No, I'm not really loving how much this song reminds me of Michael Bolton. But I suppose this shows how possible it is to make a decent song out of pop-gospel.
Oh wow, how many classic arena-rock songs could one band come up with? This is something I wouldn't mind having blasting at me at a deafening volume. Its melody isn't quite as fertile as “Don't Stop Believin',” but it has a toe-tapping, crunchy riff and in the chorus Steve Perry takes his vocals to majestic heights. Yes it will be predictable that Neal Schon will take a flashy electric guitar solo in the final third and you can probably guess what it will sound like, but … well doesn't this prove he manages to live up to the expectations we have for him? This is one of those songs I start listening to and I just want it to continue on and on and on.
Lay it Down A-
The bass line is bouncy. Bouncy bass in a stadium-rock song reminds me of Queen's “One Vision.” (Which, yes, was released five years after this.) Perhaps this isn't one of the more memorable pieces of the album, but it's sure fun to listen to while I have it on. It's just a song that sounds big with the electric guitar sound flooding out everything and Steve Perry soaring above all that ruckus, treating us to some incredible vocal acrobatics. The melody is OK too. In other words, this is classic, dependable Journey.
Dead or Alive B+
Just on the virtue of this thing sounding more sped up than usual—and keeping the rhythm section clean—this also sounds like they're tipping their hats to the new wave scene. And it's a fun, well-produced song. A little difficult for it to stand out above the rest.
Mother, Father A
Oh shoot me in the face. Do I really like this song? This? This is a hyper-dramatic song sounds like Bonnie Tyler should have been singing it. I mean... after listening to this, I have to wonder... Why didn't she? This is merely a memorable moment of this Journey album, but Bonnie Tyler could have made a hit out of this. Anyway, this is '80s cheese at its finest, but Journey were pretty good purveyors of such nonsense. Steve Perry's vocals could sound hyper-dramatic as anything, and the big, drowning guitar sound fills all the spaces. Then Jonathan Cain plays some theatrical piano. Schon's electric guitar performance in the final third is so delightful. ...So yes I give this song its due props!
Open Arms B
OK, now, this is pushing the sap too strongly even for my taste. It sounds weirdly like it belongs in the late '80s instead of the early '80s. Like—well—I'm listening to another Whitney Houston album. (What a waste that poor woman's career was... she should have asked these Journey people to write songs for her. And also lay off the violent men & drugs.) It's a straightforward piano ballad, with the only thing saving it is a little bit of that Journey verve as it builds to the chorus. Otherwise, it's kinda bland. The melody isn't anything I'm going gaga over, but it's OK.
Untold Passion (1981)
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Wasting Time B+
Well this actually resembles the blues & boogie stuff that Journey seemed to forgo on Escape, so that is interesting. It sounds like Robert Palmer or something. Maybe Schon had to get this kind of stuff out or his head would explode? ...By the way, this fact alone makes this album worthwhile to all true Journey fans. Sort of a hidden gem, as it wouldn't have sounded so out of place on a Journey album. The main difference being that Steve Perry isn't here to give one of his signature vocal performances. Is that Schon himself singing? He has a pretty decent voice, actually. ...This is the sort of song I forget not too long after it's done playing, but it's a pretty fun album opener.
I'm Talking to You B
...You talkin' to me? ...Again this sounds like another Journey song. This begs me to assume the existence of this album was a place on the cabinet to put his songs that didn't quite make it on a Journey album. This is a solid composition, altogether, and even somewhat complex, presenting kind of a wide variety of textures. Sometimes it is tight, quick and poppy like new wave music. Other times, he plays these guitar flails amidst some twisty power chords, which I like hearing.
The Ride B
Haha, well this is apparently a collaboration between Neal Schon and Jan Hammer, but it doesn't take such a genius to guess which of the duo were the principle songwriters of each song. This is an instrumental that starts out with a bouncy and somewhat bland synthesizer line. Then midway through, Neal Schon starts going to town with his signature stadium guitar licks. ...Keep on rockin' on dude!
I'm Down B+
Oh man, something tells me I'm not supposed to be enjoying these songs. But I can't help it. Neal Schon was a showman, and he still had a little ways to go before he got to Bad English. This sounds like a Spinal Tap song or something. I know that's probably supposed to be a dig, but … I hope I'm not the only person in the world who doesn't actually like that Spinal Tap album. The melody is a little bit dopey, and the heavy guitar that accompanies it makes it sound even dopier. ...I all works, though, because I like it anyway. (With all this said, I'm very glad this thing didn't make it on a Journey record. Something tells me I would have been less forgiving had this been stamped with that brand!)
Haha, OK, I guess Jan Hammer was practicing for his Miami Vice soundtrack heyday, giving this instrumental track a title such as “Arc.” Instead of orchestrating this with synthesizers though, Neal Schon is there to pump out some stiff grooves with his gruffy electric guitar. Of course midway through, Hammer is there to play some arpeggios. Midway through, there's sort of a back-and-forth battle between Hammer's clean synthesizer and Schon's gruffy stadium guitar. Who wins, Sonny or Rico?
It's Alright B-
Alright, I really like the dark guitar tones they come up with this one. It's way darker than what I'm used to hearing from Journey, certainly, so some people might find it interesting to hear Schon exploring this territory. What I don't like is that melody... seems a little bit too fruity for such an atmosphere. Like it would be more suited for pop-folk. ...With that said, a significant portion of this song is Schon noodling around with that dark guitar tone, and I do like those parts.
Hooked on Love B+
Oh boy, here's another track that seems like it would have made a reasonably good Journey song. Really I wonder if there are some people out there who were perhaps not such great fans of the wussy stuff on Escape who would just as soon edit that stuff out and replace them with something like this, a heavy, guitar-led rocker. It rocks hard enough to get the blood pumping in my veins, and the melody is OK too. This is at least as good as one of the non-hits from Departure.
On the Beach A-
I never really watched Miami Vice too often, but from what little I saw it seems like it was a pretty cool show. (I don't really get into the cop dramas, but that show had style, and you know I am all about style. ...Or more actually, I just like hearing the pop songs that manage to work themselves in.) Anyway, this is a five-minute instrumental that makes me think of Miami Vice. It has the poppy bass, toe-tapping rhythm, clean synthesizers, those whooshy effects, excellent chord changes that perk my ears, complicated development. ...And then I look at the songwriting credits and I notice that this thing was credited solely to Neal Schon. How can that be? Did Schon run out of Journey rejects and decide to compose something Jan Hammer should be composing?
Untold Passion B
And they end the festivities with a seven minute instrumental. Now this is something that Hammer did compose. It starts out with arpeggiating synthesizers and a morose atmosphere. The chord progression is actually pretty nice, even though the chord progressions seem to repeat for an awfully long time. Schon comes in with some huge, flashy guitar lines that help heighten the tension a little bit. Hammer noodles around with a synthesizer, too.
Planet Empthay B-
I'm not sure if this was part of the original album or a bonus track on the CD rerelease. Anyway, this is a piano instrumental that doesn't sound so heavily produced as everything else on the album. It's not a bad track at all, at least. The melodic theme kind of perks up my ears, even if it seems to repeat itself an awful lot. There's some instrumental build-up every time it repeats, culminating to include even some huge stadium-rock drum; however, it doesn't seem to quite do enough to get my blood pumping.
Here to Stay (1982)
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No More Lies A-
Ohhhh, I just watched a video on YouTube, taken during a Journey concert in the early '80s, when someone threw a beer bottle and hit Neal Schon in the head. He had a stream of blood dripping down his cheek, but he nonetheless proceeds to play this song. ...Wait, you mean, this song made it to Journey concerts? It even had a frequently played music video to accompany it. Hm... I guess Schon was out to do something a little bit more, this time, than finding a place to store songs that wouldn't make it onto a Journey record? ...Ohhhh, and look who has a songwriting credit here. It is none other than my best friend Glen Burtnik: That guy who replaced Tommy Shaw in early '90s Styx.
Don't Stay Away B
Eh, this is OK. I guess. A slower ballad this time. It would have found a comfortable home on the radio, except I don't think it did. The synthesizers are heavy and the melody is pretty bland. Some good chord progressions here and there. All in all, this isn't bad.
(You Think You're) So Hot C
I don't like this much at all. I don't hate it either, particularly. It's mid-tempoed with a stiff rhythm guitar stuck in a flat groove. The melody doesn't do anything for me. Middle of the way through we do get to hear Hammer & Schon noodle around with their respective instruments for a little while, but that can only go so far when they're playing with such a boring groove. Bleh. You think you're so hot, but you're lukewarm!
Ugh... OK, no offense Mr. Hammer, but you should stick to the Miami Vice stuff. I realized just now Hammer is responsible for this track and the previous one. I'll grant you Hammer is much better than I am at composing hard rock songs... but that doesn't mean he's particularly good at it. This is another song that seems stuck in a boring, mid-tempo groove. Sometimes the melody is OK, particularly in what I suppose would be the chorus. Schon overdubs his guitar a million times at the end, which was kind of cool. Overall, though, this stinks.
Self Defense B+
Oh well here's something for the Journey fan. Here not only does Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain share a songwriting credit, but you can hear Perry in back-up vocals and Steve Smith and Ross Valory plays drums & bass. OK... if the previous album was where Schon put his previously rejected Journey songs, could this be where he is putting songs he wants to sing lead on? Since Schon singing lead on a Journey song at this point would just lead to what would inevitably be perceived as a lull on any Journey album? ...Anyway, this isn't a great song by any stretch of the imagination, but it's fast-paced and filled with a whole lot of guitar mayhem. I have positive overall impressions of this song simply because I can close my eyes to it and imagine myself in a stadium hearing this thing blasting at me.
Long Time B+
Hammer didn't take my advice evidently and continued to compose pop-rock songs. Though he composed this one with Glen Burtnik. I don't know much about Burtnik other than his stint with Styx, but... maybe he was pretty good otherwise? I don't know. I just know this song has some pretty good hooks in it. It also has a toe-tapping beat and some candy-coated pumping away. I like it!
Time Again A
Here's a song written solely by Jan Hammer. It's good because it's a dense, morose piece that sounds suited for an '80s soundtrack of some sort—say for something like Miami Vice—except there's a little bit of singing on it. Not a whole lot of singing, though, so the main star of this is really Schon's guitar flailing brilliantly all throughout the background. Really, this thing is kind of beautiful. Perhaps unexpectedly this is my choice for best song of the album.
Sticks and Stones B
This is an OK song that's definitely of a more new wave flavor. (Oh, throw in my usual description of a new wave song—a clean, tight, quick rhythm section.) Schon does what's expected of him and provides some gruff, mean sounding guitar licks. It's nothing too great, but I like it.
Peace of Mind C
An instrumental piece? ...That's written by Schon? ...Why did Jan Hammer write these hard rock pieces earlier in the album, and now Schon's writing instrumentals? Why were they switching places like this? ...I did really like one of Schon's instrumental pieces in the previous album, but this one misses the mark. That is it's just dead dull. Yes, watch this with a scene on the TV, it might be OK. Otherwise, blah. The good thing at least is that this isn't very long.
Covered by Midnight B+
Well, OK. Steve Perry is making another appearance here—having been given a songwriting credit—but I don't think he can be heard lending his vocal chops. This truly would have made an appropriate Journey song of the era, as it is quite heavy and dramatic, too. The guitar groove sounds pretty complex, too, like something you'd hear from Rush. If anything, count this as a lead-in to Frontiers. (My only complaint is how this song ends... the gruff guitar fades out and then a twinkly, single synthesizer fades in. Sort of weak.)
Weekend Heaven C+
I think this is a bonus track and not included in the initial release. Which was good, since this comes off like a halfhearted reggae-pop tune. The chorus—which completely abandons the reggae flavor—picks up a little bit of a rustle, but that is too little too late. ...Interesting I guess to hear Schon noodle around with his guitar in the middle of a reggae jingle. If you ever wanted to hear that. ...I don't think anyone's wanted to hear that.
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Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) A+
How do you know it when you run across a great arena rock song? When you listen to it you want to do nothing else but imagine being in a giant stadium, soaking all of it in. I don't know about any of you, but that's all I think about. ...This is probably one of the best arena songs I've ever heard. For a band like Journey who had already produced a few classics in that realm, it's saying a lot. And this is even though the song doesn't even have a chorus that I find all that appealing---while it's catchy, it isn't exactly something that inspires me to sing along with it like a, say, "Any Way You Want it."... What it has is that ominous keyboard intro, those ripping power chords, and the endlessly soaring vocals from Steve Perry towering it over them all like some Greek god. It's a song that plays very, very well in a stadium, and if you aren't prepared to celebrate that fact, then I might suggest sticking your finger in a light socket to see if that might put a little life in you.
Send Her My Love B
Oh yeah, what also comes with an album that epic synthesizer led songs that are powerful enough to send air molecules blasting past my face, you also have to sit through these sentimental power ballads. You should know by now this comes with the territory. Not that this is a particularly poor ballad--its sappiness doesn't overwhelm me, and its melody is OK. I can sit through it and generally enjoy myself... Yes, let's give it a B.
Chain Reaction B
We're back to the large power-songs, but even a band as mighty as Journey weren't about to produce a winner every time. After all, there was no such thing as a perfect stadium-rock band. The song is loud and has a lot of verve but the riff is forgettable. I would say at least the melody takes a few attractive, meandering turns in its chorus. What it does do is keep my toes tapping and my heart pumping, which makes it an OK listen as I am hearing it blast out of my speakers. But am I fantasizing about hearing this at a concert? Not really. Schon does get across a good solo here at least.
After the Fall C+
Ack! Do you remember how music from the 1980s are supposed to be terrible? This is the kind of song people are thinking about when they say that... these polished atmospheres, grit-less instruments, forgettable verses, softly sung chorus that tries to be ethereal a little bit... Even Neal Schon gets whacked off at the knees with a lifeless guitar solo in the outtro that can only barely be distinguished with a synthesizer. To be fair, I've heard worse than this song, as the melody isn't terrible and the experience of listening to this doesn't exactly suck the life out of me. At the same time, is this
Another power ballad, you say? Agg! At least this one uses an echoey piano instead of a synthesizer. As this song starts out, it always reminds me of ABBA's “The Winner Takes It All.” But whereas that song is catchy and always means something to me, this one is far blander. I do want to give it props, however, for it becoming acceptably soaring in its final half...such that I can actually get into its spirit a little more.
Edge of the Blade A-
This song I'd imagine does a better job at capturing what I'd imagine pretty much anyone really wanted to hear out of Journey at this point: A huge song with soaring vocals, heavy upbeat drums, heavy background synthesizers, a heavy and flashy guitar solo at the end... I guess I am trying to say, this is a heavy song. I wouldn't say I find it especially memorable, but as long as I'm listening to this arena-rock stuff, I find I can get into the appropriate spirit with this one fairly well.
Troubled Child C+
After Journey had gotten my hopes up with “Edge of the Blade” they return to the power ballads. The verses section is dull... the chorus picks up a little bit of steam, but there isn't much to that either. The only part of this song I really like turns out to be the instrumental section in the final third when Neal Schon gets to go at it amongst those atmospheric synthesizers. With all due respect to Mr. Steve Perry, maybe Journey should have just made this an instrumental album?
Back Talk A-
What synthesizers? Suddenly, Journey come out with a heavy rocker reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's “Whole Lotta Love.” ...It's quite good! Not great, but it's nice to hear growling guitars for one song without these synthesizers trying to make things ethereal all the time. Perry screams through most of this song. That is exactly what Robert Plant used to do, so it's OK. I can call this a poor man's Led Zeppelin, and that is OK.
Oh thank god, I'm back to the ethereal atmospheres. I do like how this song starts out...brightly atmospheric with tightly textured guitars and a pace that makes me feel as though I'm about to go on a grand old adventure. And then a wonky drum beat starts, and then things get worse when Perry starts to sing. Perry's voice was fantastic, of course, but maybe this would have made a better instrumental album? It's not as though Perry is singing a melody of any interest.
Eh, back to this arena-rock stuff. Not that we ever really left it. There's nothing interesting about the instrumentation...no cool atmospheres or interesting rhythms. I will say the chorus kind of captures my interest, though. The most positive thing I can think of is at least this isn't another power-ballad. But this does seem like a throwaway. To those of you who are listening to the original vinyl pressing of the album, it sucks to be you, because you can't listen to anything else.
Only the Young A+
Sometimes I don't include Bonus Tracks when I assess the overall quality of an album, but the ones included here are so good that they eclipse everything else on the album, apart from “Separate Ways.” Like that song, this is a pop song that would play exceptionally well in the arena, the radio...and even the movies, since this song was written for the 1985 film Vision Quest. I have a weirdly strong connection with that movie, since the movie was filmed in Spokane Washington and I watched it shortly after moving to that region (to attend college) ...You could say this is a generic 1980s pop song, and you would be correct. However, this one happens to qualify as a good pop song. I mean, it's so catchy that I want to listen to it over and over again. The production is quite good as well—of course it's heavily polished, but it's nonetheless crunchy enough that it gives me plenty to listen to. I also find listening to its atmosphere stirring...and I don't think that's because I'm thinking about watching that movie.
Ask the Lonely A
This is another really good pop song that was written for a movie. This movie starred John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and it wasn't Grease. It was called Two of a Kind. The movie must not have been good, because I haven't seen it. At any rate, the song Journey wrote for it is another piece of pop-fluff that I can just listen to over and over again... the melody is catchy, the instrumentation is nicely textured and well-mixed. Of course, Schon takes an extended moment in here to deliver a soaring electric guitar solo. ...Why couldn't Journey have released an album full of songs like this? It would have been a classic for sure!
I don't know what the story with this song is... It wasn't in a movie. I guess that was its mistake. Maybe this was a B-side to something. Anyway, this is another distinctly Zeppelin-esque song, except this time being more reminiscent of “The Song Remains the Same.” I kind of like it... the electric guitar has this pleasant ringing tone to it, and the melody is reasonably catchy.
Only Solutions A-
Oh yes, I know this song... It's the theme to Tron! There's something about it that makes me want to pump my fist in the air and scream out along with Perry every time he sings “oh yeah!” Like the other movie songs on these bonus tracks, this is another generic pop-song fit for the 1980s radio. Except for whatever reason, I don't get into this one so much. That is even though the nostalgic factor regarding Tron ought to hit me much more than it does for Only the Young, since I was quite a bit younger when I first saw Tron. Nonetheless, I do enjoy listening to the song...the chorus is a tad weak, but it's still catchy on the whole.