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TRIAL BY FIRE

Journey

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Journey Trial By Fire album cover
2.65 | 51 ratings | 9 reviews | 2% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential


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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing


1. Message Of Love (5:34)
2. One More (5:28)
3. When You Love A Woman (4:07)
4. If He Should Break Your Heart (4:23)
5. Forever In Blue (3:35)
6. Castles Burning (6:00)
7. Don't Be Down On Me Baby (4:01)
8. Still She Cries (5:04)
9. Colors Of The Spirit (5:41)
10. When I Think Of You (4:21)
11. Easy To Fall (5:15)
12. Can't Tame The Lion (4:32)
13. Trial By Fire (4:41)
14. Baby I'm Leaving You (2:49) (hidden track)

15. I Can See It In Your Eyes (4:12) (Japanese-only bonus track on the original CD release, later added to the 2006 CD reissue)

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

Steve Perry - lead vocals
Neal Schon - lead & rhythm guitars (acoustic and electric), vocals
Jonathan Cain - keyboards, rhythm guitar, vocals
Steve Smith - drums and percussion
Ross Valory - bass, vocals

Releases information

Columbia Records
COL 485264 2
CK 67514

Thanks to Ricochet for the addition
and to Tarcisio Moura for the last updates
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JOURNEY Trial By Fire ratings distribution


2.65
(51 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(2%)
2%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(16%)
16%
Good, but non-essential (39%)
39%
Collectors/fans only (29%)
29%
Poor. Only for completionists (14%)
14%

JOURNEY Trial By Fire reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guillermo
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After their "Frontiers" album and tour, Journey took some time to rest as a band. Steve Perry recorded a very commercial mellow album called "Street Talk" (1984) which included the very mellow ballad called "Sherrie", which also has one of the worst video clips I have seen. I listened to "Street Talk" when a female friend lent me that album for a brief time in 1985. I didn`t like it so I never bought it.

By 1986, there was a new album by Journey called "Raised on Radio", and by that time the band only had three members (Perry, Schon and Cain, the main songwriters) with Steve Smith and Ross Valory being fired before the album was recorded. I only listened to a song from that album called "Be Good to Yourself" in a FM Radio station in my city, a song which I didn`t like very much, sounding for me as very similar to the songs from Perry`s "Street Talk" album. I never bought "Raised on Radio", and I forgot to play Journey`s music for several years.

By 1989, Schon and Cain had another band called "Bad English" with lead singer John Waite. They recorded two albums which were not as successful as the albums they recorded with Journey. I watched on TV to two of their video clips, and for me that band was just another commercial Arena Rock band whose style was similar to Journey`s in some parts but with another lead singer. I never bought their albums.

Then, in late 1996, this album titled "Trial by Fire" was released. I remember being in a record shop buying another CD and when I paid for that CD I received in the bag an ad announcing the release of "the new album recorded by the classic line-up of Journey". I didn`t buy it then, not being interested very much in Journey`s music since the mid eighties.

In mid 1998 I went to a record shop which had at low prices several CDs released by Sony / Columbia. One of them was Steve Perry`s second solo album titled "For the Love of Strange Medicine" (1994). I bought it and I liked it a lot. That album is much better than "Street Talk", in my opinion.

By late 1998, I went again to the same record shop which again had those Sony / Columbia low priced CDs and cassettes. I didn`t find the CD version of "Trial by Fire", but I bought the cassette version instead.

"Trial by Fire" is a good album, but it seems to me that by 1996 Journey was reforming to try to repeat their old formula of Hits in an album with some sugar ballads and some heavy rock songs. I have to say that I still like some of the songs ("Message of Love", "One More", "It`s Just Rain"). But even in the songs I liked I could find similarities with old songs like "Separate Ways" (in the case of "Message of Love" and "One More"). There are other songs with a lot of influence from old ballads composed by them, and also with some influences from Steve Perry`s "Street Talk" album ("When You Love a Woman", "If He Should Break Your Heart"). The only ballad that I really like a lot is "It`s Just Rain". The rest of the songs are not as interesting for my taste. The band also had the help of a songwriter which was not part of the band (John Bettis, who I think that he wrote some songs for "Street Talk" with Perry) in a few songs. So, for me this album sounds more like they were really working hard to try to capture in a new album their old sound but with a lot of not very interesting songs.

I have to say that I prefer Steve Perry`s second solo album more than this "Trial by Fire" album. It is much better that "Trial by Fire" and much less commercial than "Street Talk".

After this album was released, Perry had some health problems which prevented the band to tour again. Perry needed a hip surgery, but he kept the band waiting for two years before he was given an ultimatum by Cain and Schon and he finally was fired in 1998. He finally went to that surgery after he left Journey, and the band carried on with other lead singers which despite being very good couldn`t repeat the success of Journey with Perry. Steve Smith also left the band after Perry was fired not seeing a future for the band without Perry.

This album was very successful in the Hit Parade charts, but...I don`t like it very much in comparison to their "Escape" and "Frontiers" albums.

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Send comments to Guillermo (BETA) | Report this review (#183346) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Despite the proliferation of sappy-ballads, Trial By Fire remains for me a fun listen when I am in the mood for Journey's signature brand of saccharine rock.

Specifically, the songwriting and mood clicks here better than most of their other albums, which are very song-oriented and formulaic in their delivery. All of the songs are longer than their older hits, giving the musicians more time to experiment with solos and instrumental passages, which they thankfully do quite well. Message of Love and One More are energetic openers in the vein of Separate Ways, with big melodies and Schon's guitar sounding aggressive and sharp. Can't Time the Lion is especially enjoyable, since it possess a style and sound different than anything they've done before.

Perry's vocals are thankfully much smoother and easier on the ears than in the past, but some of the ballads are terrible. Don't Be Down on Me Baby and When I Think of You are worthless, plodding, sentimental yuck, reminiscent of his solo offerings. Fortunately, there are some classy vocals here as well-- nothing so big and pompous as Faithfully/Open Arms (which is good, in my book). Still She Cries, It's Just the Rain, and Trial By Fire are all good examples, with reserved deliveries by Perry and very cool, smooth guitar playing from Schon.

So, I'll stick my neck out here and say that Trial By Fire is actually one of the band's better albums; it is more reserved, stylistic, and artistic than their packaged-to-sell albums from the '80's. Prog fans who enjoy the campiness of Journey may actually find themselves appreciating the musicianship in this one (and one can always just delete the lame ballads from their iPod).

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#204299) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Ten years were a quite sufficient break to sit back and wait for an unexpected great and new musical orientation.

"Message Of Love" is maybe one of their best ever song from "Journey" (if you would expect some of their great seventies tracks): excellent beat and catchy melody. Of course, this has nothing to do with their earlier albums, but at least, such a straight forward rock song is holding the key.

The ballad rhythm is not fully enjoyable while listening to the dull and conventional rock ballad "When You Love A Woman". To have been waitng for about ten years to release such a weak affair is not really meeting expectations. Still, I have to say and confess that this "Trial?" is the best of their material since Perry came on board (which was not a difficult matter).

This album is more rock oriented than its predecessors and most of their AOR stuff is just an awful remembrance from the past. The heavy " Castless Burning" is one of the highlights: such a big rhythm and fantastic beat! THE highlight of this album.

I have never been able to endorse the Perry entrance in this band. Few to none were the songs I could tolerated before this "reunion" work. But when I listen to such a miserable tune as "Colors Of The Spirit", I can only come back to earth and acknowledge that most of the weak achievements were not only a thing from the past.

The dull "When I Think Of You" or "Easy To Fall" are just another confirmation of the weakness of this album. Avoidable rock ballads with no feel. The best you can do is to avoid these type of songs.

I have been quite harsh with my "Journey" reviews. Accordingly. I have to recognize that "Trial By Fire" is better than their earlier stuff. Some of their earlier blunders are still back again under the form of the weak rock ballads like "Don't Be Down On Me Baby", "Still She Cries" or "It's Just A Rain".

The passable title track can justify the two stars rating. Some sort of innovation in terms of Perry appearances as far as I'm concerned even if the dreadful reaggae "Baby I'm Leaving You" is quite dispensable.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#249101) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 08, 2009

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars One more, then baby I'm leaving you

Journey do not have a classic line up as such. For some, the earliest albums are the only ones which earn credibility for the band, and it is hard to argue against the requirement that co-founder Greg Rolie and early drummer Aynsey Dunbar be included in any attempt to define a classic line up. That said, it must also be recognised that the bands biggest selling albums ("Escape" and "Frontiers") were recorded by the line up of Perry, Schon, Cain, Valory, Smith.

It is that quintet which reconvened in 1996 to record this album, the band having appeared to call it a day some 10 years earlier. The healing of wounds was all the more remarkable given that Valory and Smith had been unceremoniously sacked prior to the recording of "Raised on radio".

As had become the norm on the mid-1980's albums, the trio of Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain and Steve Perry monopolise the song writing, with only minor variations in the credits for a couple of the songs. Noted lyricist John Bettis (who also wrote for The Carpenters, Madonna, and Whitney Houston among many others) helps out on a couple of tracks. With no less than 15 tracks including the closing hidden track and a running time of over 70 minutes, this is by far the meatiest Journey release, and effectively a double album when compared to those from the LP years.

The main benefit of the CD age for this and albums such as this is that the extra space available allows the band to develop the tracks more fully. Thus the tracks here are generally slightly longer than they might have been 10-20 years previously. With running times of 4-6 minutes, the songs remain tight and focused, but Neal Schon is able to slip in more in the way of lead guitar breaks overall.

The opening "Message to love" reassures us that the band have lost none of their energy, this up-tempo rock number being as powerful and punchy as anything which has gone before. As we would expect, the album has the usual mix of such songs and smoochy ballads. What there also are though is a selection of mid-tempo rock anthems, namely "One more", "Still she cries", "It's just the rain" and the title track. It is these songs which are arguably the ones which distinguish the album and which are for me the best of the bunch. Indeed, the closing pairing of "It's just the rain" and "Trial by fire" make for a combined 10 minutes of classic Journey at their absolute best.

The piano led weepy "When you love a woman" is very much a vehicle for Perry's wonderful tones. Inevitability, it secured further singles chart success and a Grammy nomination for the band, but for me it is inferior to similar tracks on previous albums. Likewise, "When I think of you" with its "Magic moments" intro is a bit too drippy.

"Castle's burning" is by far the heaviest track the band have recorded, ever. With a running time of around 6 minutes, it is also the longest of the Perry age. The album actually closes with a hidden track called "Baby I'm leaving you", but this cod-reggae episode is not quite hidden enough!

In all, this is pretty much the perfect Journey album in terms of their AOR years. The song writing is spot on, the arrangements allow the songs to develop well, Steve Perry's voice never sounded better, and the instrumental performances are top notch. Forget the negative spin of the anti-Perry-era brigade, this is a wonderful album.

The cover illustration is superb, the fold-out lyric sheet reflecting the biblical references which abound through the album.

"Trial by fire" would prove to be something of a one off reunion, Steve Perry leaving the band again, apparently through injury but this time permanently, during planning for a subsequent tour to promote the album.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#434146) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 15, 2011

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
2 stars Return

Trial By Fire was Journey's first album in ten years and the last one ever to feature the distinctive lead vocals of Steve Perry. I think it is fair to say that this album was a return to form of sorts, but it is debatable if Journey had much of a form to return to! What I mean is that Trial By Fire was undoubtedly the best Journey album since the band's "golden" period in the late 70's and early 80's, but saying this is not saying much, if you ask me. Even adding that this is one of Journey's better albums overall does not even involve much praise in itself. Still, Trial By Fire is a decent album on its own merits and one that even might hold some interest for at least some visitors to the parts.

There are several good songs here, though not a single great one. Unfortunately, there are also some not so good songs that bring the album down. The total running time is much too long for the album's good. It would have been very easy for the band to make a much more coherent, consistent and enjoyable album by just removing the lesser tracks from the track list. But I suppose that the compact disc offered a strong temptation to put this much music out at once, but this material would have benefitted considerably from being limited to the length of a single vinyl LP, say around 35 to 40 minutes or so.

The first two tracks are quite promising, especially One More which reminds of John Payne- era Asia. Message Of Love and When You Love A Woman have lyrics that are hard for me to accept. I really don't like such explicit and standard love songs lyrically speaking, but musically these two songs are quite alright. The next track worthy of mention is Castles Burning which starts out as a rather generic heavy Blues rocker but eventually develops nicely into something that reminds me of the Neo-Prog band Pallas toward the end of it!

Many of the songs are very typical Journey tunes of varying quality and I will not mention them all explicitly, I mention only those that stand out for me for one reason or another. There is a considerable amount of songs in the middle of the album that just pass me by without leaving any particular impressions. Colours Of The Spirit is an exception here as it features some interesting World-Music sounds, but it does unfortunately not develop into anything particularly interesting. It is not until Can't Tame The Lion that the album once again becomes interesting to me. This is a good song with a strong melody and great vocals. Another two good songs follow in It's Just The Rain and Trial By Fire and these would have ended the album in a reasonably strong fashion if it wasn't for the awful "hidden" track that closes the disc.

To sum up. There are just too many fillers here that add nothing of value to the album for this to be a good album. It does, however, have its moments and is indeed a very worthy addition to the collections of Journey fans. But beyond those fans, it has very limited interest.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#440511) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 29, 2011

Review by stefro
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars After a ten-year gap Journey's classic 1980s line-up reconvened to produce this highly-anticipated 'comeback' album, the seeds of discontent sown by vocalist Steve Perry's 1987 defection seemingly buried deep in the past. With Perry augmented by Neal Schon(guitar, vocals), Ross Valory(bass), Jonathan Cain(keyboards, vocals) and Steve Smith(drums), 'Trial By Fire' is very much an attempt to repeat former glories, though sadly and like many returning heroes the fact remains that Journey's time has very much been-and-gone. You have to go way back to 1981 to find the last worthwhile Journey album and that - 'Escape' - was a stone-cold classic, branded by many as the pinnacle of the AOR genre. Follow-up efforts 'Frontiers'(1983) and 'Raised On Radio'(1986) proved popular amongst fans yet were very much products of their time, now sounding even more dated than the group's mainly excellent 1970s material and sorely lacking the creative input of original keyboardist Gregg Rolie. His replacement, former Baby's member Cain, initially proved to be an inspired choice, his commercial nous, melodic instincts and canny ability to produce catchy and emotive hooks the main creative power behind the enormous and long-lasting success of 'Escape'. However, his influence proved to be short-lived. And like both 'Frontiers' and 'Raised On Radio', 1996's 'Trial By Fire' proved to be something of a damp squid. The real problem is that Journey in their heyday were perfectly suited to the musical environment around them. They practically invented soft-rock, a style that has no place in the grunge-dominated 1990s, and here their music sounds forced and formulaic. The ballads prove dull and mawkish, the rockier numbers horribly over-produced, a slick sheen of sentimentality glazing the brittle riffs. The misty, slow-burning 'Colours Of The Spirit' and the semi-muscular arena rock of the title-track aside, 'Trial By Fire' proves somewhat disappointingly that the good times will stay where they belong: in the past. Journey were a great, great band in their pomp, their first three albums - 'Journey'(1975), 'Look Into The Future'(1976), 'Next'(1977) - and the likes of 'Infinity'(1978), 'Departure'(1979), 'Dream After Dream'(1980) and 'Escape' testament to their enduring appeal. Sadly, the undemanding 'Trial By Fire' fails to ignite in the same way.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#710204) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, April 05, 2012

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars For some reasons, I like this album which I purchased by accident as it was cheaply priced. Not jut the price, actually .... I also love the album cover. I have never followed Journey in particular as after early year they already transformed into a straight rock band. In particular of this album, I enjoy the opening track "message of Love" which starts wonderfully with an ambient sound combining vocal and keyboard plus guitar effects. The music flows nicely in a bass-tight rhythm session. It's probably the rhythm section plus some sorts of howling guitar and effects throughout the song that makes me feel excited with it. The guitar solo is also stunning. Even though this song is far away from being called as prog music, but I really enjoy the composition as well as the singing style. The second track "One More" is also another excellent track that I regularly play when it comes to this album.

Well ...sometimes we need to break from prog music for a while and have this album spun. I think this album deserves a three-star rating in terms of straight rock music - nothing is prog here at this album by Journey.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

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Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After more than ten years since their last studio album (1985īs Raised On Radio) Journey came back with the classic line up of Steve Perry, Neil Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory and Steve Smith. Surprisingly Trial By Fire did not get much airplay or TV exposure as before: the times had changed and both critics and the MTV were in love and/or mourning grunge and alternative pop. The highly polished and melodic rock of Journey had no room in the 90īs (or so some people thought). The lack of a tour also didnīt help matters (see below).

Which is really a pity since the new album showed the band had lost none of their fire neither the capacity of writing great songs. they were open minded enough to bring in a new producer (Kevin Shirley) and a few recent influences too. Not that Trial By Fire is a perfect album. with more than 70 minutes of running time it showed not only their versatility but also a slightly unbalanced tracklist that would sure benefit from the dropping of a couple of ballads. However, there are no real fillers and even the weakest songs are not bad. In fact, there are very strong ones that I was quite surprised didnīt get the attention they deserved, like the powerful opener Message Of Love, the surprisingly heavy Castles Burning and the ethereal Colors Of The Spirit. Other highlights are the mid-tempo rocker One More and the title track. In all, a very good album.

Unfortunately, there would be no tour to promote the album: Steve Perry had a hip injury that seems to take forever to heal (other sources claim his voice was not up to previous standards and he was not taking chances). When the rest of the band decided they would not wait any more, it was too late to save the project (though Trial By Fire would still sell enough through the years to eventually reach platinum status). They got another singer and Steve Smith, who thought the come back was meaningless without Perry, quit. They would soldier on, but thatīs another story.

With a superb production, a beautiful cover, very good songs and an energetic performance, Trial By Fire shows a band that, contrary to most contemporaries, had enough power and ideas to justify totally their comeback as a creative force. While not as successful as their previous efforts, it stood very well the test of time (just like the others). If you like sophisticated melodic rock, you canīt go wrong with this CD. Rating: something between 3.5 and 4 stars.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#1289860) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 10, 2014

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1 stars This is Journey's last album with Steve Perry handling the lead vocals. It was released in grunge-era 1996, and the band seemed to be attempting to shed its 80s Arena Rock stigma. The band built its success on uplifting energetic melodic Rock and anthemic ballads-- but they apparently decided ... (read more)

Report this review (#434125) | Posted by altaeria | Friday, April 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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