Today was Journey Appreciation Day, as I tracked through all of my Journey CDs at work. Truth to tell, I have learned a new appreciation for these guys in recent years, given the dearth of decent new music over the last decade or so, and in spite of Journey being one of FM Classic Rock radio’s "go to" or "safe" bands (not unlike Boston, Foreigner and Styx) whose stuff gets disproportionately played to death. With all these crappy bands that pass for Rock ‘N’ Roll today who can’t even carry a tune with a handle (what the fuck is a Hoobastank?!?), it’s refreshing to listen to musicians who actually have some talent and a sense of melody, even if the majority of their stuff is a tad lightweight.
I'm an oddball fan of Journey in that I much prefer their "B-stuff" (i.e. deep album cuts) over the "A-stuff" that gets routinely run into the ground on the radio. In other words, I don't need to hear "Open Arms" or "Don't Stop Believin'" again anytime soon. I’m especially partial to songs from the Gregg Rolie era like "Walks Like A Lady", "Where Were You?", "People And Places" and "Line of Fire", as well as some of their later stuff with Jonathan Cain on keyboards like "Chain Reaction", "Keep On Runnin’", "Rubicon", "Lay It Down", and the very underrated "Only The Young." Another cool thing I like about Journey is how as part of the dedications and credits on their album sleeves, they would acknowledge people from other bands who had recently passed on, like the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Bon Scott of AC/DC. Very classy on their part, and I’ve always respected them for that.
Speaking of Gregg Rolie, I’m reminded of a funny incident that happened on the radio involving him, circa. 1979 or ‘80. The old KY-102 was doing a live on-air phone interview with Rolie, who was in Chicago at a pre-concert sound check with music blaring in the background, and he proceeded to exclaim, "Man, I can’t hear SHIT on this phone!", evidently unaware that he was actually on the radio!
And say what you will about Journey being "corporate" Rock ‘N’ Roll, but they are ALL fine musicians, particularly Neal Schon on guitar—the boy definitely knows his way around a fretboard. Their erstwhile lead singer Steve Perry has an incredible voice too, and was certainly a great frontman—but is also about as flaky as a Pillsbury pie crust! I’m still trying to make sense out of the statement he made on VH-1 Classic’s "Behind The Music": "I never really felt like I was part of the band…" Huh? And Al Davis never really owned the Oakland Raiders, right? This is the same guy who was behind the firing of the rhythm section—bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith—in 1986 for no particular reason (Valory was replaced by Randy Jackson of "American Idol" fame), yet he didn’t feel like part of the band?!? Hell, he was the freakin’ focal point of it! No wonder his girlfriend Sherrie (AKA "Oh, Sherrie") dumped him. Just as well she didn’t marry him anyway—she would've had to go through life known as Sherrie Perry. Meanwhile, Journey somehow managed to replace Perry with an almost exact replica, one Steve Augeri, who sounds and almost looks just like him ("Steve Perry with a perm", someone quipped), so all is fairly well in Journey World as they tour the nostalgia circuit.
My Journey Top Five:
1) Where Were You? (1980)
2) Rubicon (1983)
3) Line of Fire (1979)
4) Lay It Down (1981)
5) [tie] Only The Young (1984)
People and Places (1980)