Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy, aka the Joyful Gadfly! Musician, podcaster, writer, historian ... here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album is unique in some way. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Journey ~ The Essential Journey (hits comp)

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: greatest hits, pop rock, hard rock
Label: Columbia
Year: 2001
Home: California

Members: Neal Schon ~ lead guitar/keyboard/guitar synth/vocals
Steve Perry ~ lead vocals
Gregg Rolie ~ lead vocals/keyboards/harmonica
Jonathan Cain ~ keyboards/rhythm guitar/b. vocals
Aynsley Dunbar, Steve Smith, Larrie Londin ~ drums
Ross Valory, Randy Jackson ~ bass/b. vocals
Bob Glaub ~ bass

Additional: Stevie Roseman ~ keyboards
Paulinho Da Costa, Steve Minkins ~ percussion

Journey is one of those bands folks like to make fun of, alongside Foreigner, Boston, The Doobie Brothers & numerous other radio friendly bands that came out of the 70's perfectly made for mass market consumerism, light on anything too experiental & heavy on sing-along love songs. The fact that Journey later featured the former power metal singer, Jeff Scott Soto, of Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, only to unceremoniously replace him with a tribute band singer didn't help the joke. The fact that the ensuing studio recordings with the later are some of the best music Journey has made in decades shows who is laughing last. Though, I feel sorry for JSS as he never got a chance to drop his mark with the band in the studio. He's a good guy & under-appreciated singer working hard & getting some new recognition with Trans-Siberian Orchestra & his group W.E.T., at least he got to contribute to the Journey biography. But, there's a reason joke bands like Journey have remained on the charts churning out memorable song after song (for example, "Wheel In The Sky", "Any Way You Want It", "Don't Stop Believin", "Who's Crying Now", "Lights", "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)", "Faith In The Heartland", "Open Arms" & "I'll Be Alright Without You"). For whatever their radio friendly sheen the music is pretty much perfect. It's got everything mainstream music needs. Great singers & musicians, recognizable memorable songs & lyrics, variable catchy arrangements & most importantly we can all sing-along with abandon. It doesn't get too heavy or too experimental. It's safe. Elvis Presley was safe. The Beatles started as safe. With a shot of creativity safe is not a four letter word. The producers of TV's 'The Sopranos' probably weren't treating Journey as a joke when they decided to end the series with "Don't Stop Believin'" playing over a blank screen ... having already shown great taste in music throughout the season's ending credits including other songs from Journey. This 2 CD journey that arrived in time for their 30th anniversary features thirty-two tracks from the Steve Perry years, 1978-1996. It's not comprehensive & doesn't give any time to the albums before or after Perry but, honestly, all the recognizable hits came out of when Perry was frontman ... sorry Soto, George Tickner, Prairie Prince, Robert Fleischman, Steve Augeri, Arnel Pineda & Deen Castronovo. Though before him the band was more progressive & only had a few albums while after him the way the music industry & charting works changed. This album won't teach you about all the musical changes Journey went through on their journey, but if you want the hits & all of them this is this is the place to go. There's other greatest hits collections but this tops the batch. The first CD is all the greatest hits while the second one is more fan-favorites. There's a few duds in the batch, though duds is just a jerk-knee way of saying songs that are a little less memorable & a bit imitative. Yes, leaning heavily on love songs seemingly forsaking any other topic does produce a number of cliched duds ... let's be honest. 80's hair metal showed how limiting it can be. But, remove those few & there's still an album plus of music left that will delight the ears. Further, there's so many great songs this collection might inspire one to check out the full studio albums & the excluded years. I was shocked by how many songs were familiar that I grew up hearing on the radio & forgot were part of the Journey catalog. I don't even know if I knew they were all Journey. When I hear all the hits I suddenly realize what makes this band so great & more than a joke. Check it out & see what I mean. Once you hear the music you'll realize why I hold back in going into detail on exactly why they aren't a joke. The music speaks for itself. For those curious it songs are culled from the Vision Quest & Two Of A Kind soundtracks, plus the albums Escape, Infinity, Frontiers, Departure, Evolution, Captured, Raised On Radio & Trial By Fire. Only the Dream After Dream soundtrack is missing if one wants to be technical about the Perry studio output.




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