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Journey - Journey CD (album) cover




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3.40 | 153 ratings

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4 stars It's often forgotten(mainly by their own fans it seems) that Journey, an outfit who practically invented the soft- rock genre during their dollar-soaked 1980s peak, started out as ambitious, fusion-tinged progressive rock group in the heady days of the 1970s. Yes, their origins are slightly dubious, seeing as they were formed at the behest of a record company looking to make a quick buck, yet the facts speak for themselves. Journey would come together in San Francisco, circa 1975, the five original members - Neal Schon(guitar), Ross Valory(bass), George Tickner(guitar), Gregg Rolie(keyboards, vocals) and Aynsley Dunbar(drums) - featuring an impressive collective pedigree after stints playing with the likes of Santana, Frank Zappa and long- lost psych-rockers Frumious Bandersnatch. After securing a deal with Columbia Records the group released their first, self-titled effort in 1975 without causing too much of a splash. Despite selling around 100,000 copies, 'Journey' was regarded as something of a failure and Tickner soon left, slimming the group down to a four-piece. A second album, the excellent, slightly more refined 'Look Into Future' soon followed - again failing to hit the commercial heights expected - before a third, and final, effort from the original line-up entitled 'Next' did the same. Columbia then gave the group an ultimatum: get a new lead-vocalist or you're dropped. Alien Project front-man Steve Perry was thus selected and the rest, as they say, is rock 'n' roll history, as Journey morphed into one of the most successful American rock acts of the last thirty-five years. But what of their debut? A strong, emotive and much more adventurous album than one would expect, this is progressive rock American style. Stylistically, 'Journey' isn't a million miles away from the Likes of Kansas or early Styx, just with a slick, hard-rock veneer and the occasional foray into complex jazz-fusion territory coating their guitar-and- keyboard heavy sound. Opening track 'Of A Lifetime' provides a strong start, with Schon's fluid guitars soaring between Rolie's psych-tinged organs and powerful vocals, yet the album really comes to life on the energetic workout 'Topaz', a track featuring some excellent Mahavishnu-style interplay. Closing piece 'Mystery Mountain'(one of the few tracks to consistently appear during Journey's live shows) also impresses, adding yet more hard-rock guitars and anthemic choruses to the mix, yet it's all a far cry from the likes of 'Escape', their blockbusting 1983 album made famous by the incredibly popular 'Don't Stop Believin'. Despite what you may think, all three of Journey's progressive-styled albums are well worth checking out, showing a brief glimpse of a band in creative transition. The production is top-notch, the actual musicianship impressive and fans of classic American rock should seek them out immediately.


stefro | 4/5 |


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