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Journey - Infinity CD (album) cover




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2.81 | 109 ratings

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1 stars Shhh. Keep it down, will ya? I'm writing this in secret so my wife won't know I'm about to torpedo one of her favorite purveyors of what I refer to as 'knucklehead rock.' She wouldn't appreciate my snarky sentiments at all. You see, since we met about a decade and a half ago I've avoided (for the sake of serenity) casting dispersions upon her aural preferences. If a song comes on the local classic rock radio station that I can't stomach yet it's one that causes her to gleefully arm dance in the passenger seat I simply try to astral project to another dimension and tune it out. At some point she'll cheerfully chirp what a great song it is and I'll usually respond with something along the lines of 'You betcha, Buttercup' while lying like a politician through my clenched teeth. The fact is that she, along with uncountable millions just like her, considers groups like Journey and REO Speedwagon to be the apex of quality rock & roll. If I'd allowed that fault to keep me from marrying her I'd still be a lonely old grump to this day so compromise in that area was a logical prerequisite to our vows being exchanged. If my hidden but massive disgust for music she thinks is fantastic was ever revealed to her it might be considered a tell-tale underhanded prevarication in her book and that's never a healthy precedent to set in a man/woman union. I tactfully emphasize the bands and artists that we do share admiration for and try not to grimace when something like the inane 'Keep On Lovin' You' comes on and she reaches over to crank it up loud.

As I indicated, Journey is high on her list so in deference to my bride I'll try to be civil (which means I'll not curse) in my review of 'Infinity' despite my justifiable resentment of what they turned into. When Santana alums Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon formed the group in '72 they aspired to be an American progressive rock outfit and their first three releases displayed that desire to some degree but, unfortunately, no one was buying what they were hawking and the suits at Columbia were threatening to give them the heave-ho. A terse meeting was probably held in one of the label's opulent conference rooms and I suspect the conversation went something like this:

Honcho: What am I gonna do with you clueless dreamers? Your sales figures are pitiful and a disgrace to the corporation. I think your 'journey' is over. Band: (In unison) Don't say that! What can we do to stay in the fold? We'll do anything. Honcho: Really? If you were a girl group I'd have plenty of wicked suggestions but, since you're obviously not, your only option is to follow my explicit instructions. Band: We're all ears. Honcho: First, stop this 'prog' business and lower the bar about ten feet or so. Second, find a chick magnet frontman who can sing real high. Third, hire a producer who'll make you sound more like Boston or Foreigner and do whatever he says. If you do all that and deliver a slick, marketable product we'll think about giving you a contract extension. Band: (Groveling) Oh, thank you, your majesty. We'll get right on it. You won't regret this.

Months later the 'Infinity' LP was a reality and Journey the prog-related ensemble was no more. Their prog muse had been assassinated Caesar-like and kicked to the curb. Now it was time for the newly 'reeducated' and more accessible version of Journey to make their debut. The album starts off with 'Lights,' a safe pop ballad sporting a friendly quasi-blues feel in which it quickly becomes evident that their new vocalist, Steve Perry, sure does love his 'cit-tay by the bay.' This hollow piece of schlock epitomizes what I seek refuge in Progland to get away from. 'Feeling That Way' is next, a specimen of watered down vanilla rock that offers nothing of interest whatsoever. The song's stacked harmony vocals sound artificial and overly pasteurized. Greg then steps up to sing 'Anytime' but he only renders more of the same gooey ooze as Steve does. I have no doubt that by the time this track was played for the aforementioned corporate honcho his eyes were bugging out of their sockets envisioning the boatloads of money these dudes were going to earn for the stockholders. A cash cow had been calved! As for the tune itself, it's the kind of vapid crap that gives rock a bad name. 'La Do Da' follows and it does have a bit of grit but Perry sounds like he's still in high school. It's as if Josh Groban had joined Humble Pie and the result is uncomfortably unnatural. 'Patiently' is a sappy love song that employs the hybrid electrified acoustic guitar effect that I can't stand. I mean, why not grab a decent Martin, put a microphone in front of it and make the most of its God-given tone? Anywho, the number soon turns into a power ballad for no particular reason and then slinks out the way it came in.

Then there's the diabolical 'Wheel in the Sky.' If I spent the rest of my days without having to hear this formulaic, tedious drivel again I'd feel blessed. There's absolutely no originality involved in the manufacture of this pile of manure so it's not a stretch to say that any garage band in the world could've done just as well. 'Somethin' to Hide' is next and, yeah, I'd say they had something they were hiding, their dignity! I know these boys cleaned up financially by putting out this slop but they should be ashamed of themselves. The only thing they were trying to do imagination-wise was to see how 'sellable' they could make their product. The 'Winds of March' follows and its breezes are carrying a plastic stink. It begins inoffensively with a brief instrumental passage but then it takes an all-too-predictable detour when Perry starts warbling like a canary on steroids. They toss in a 'heavy' sequence midway through but the Hammond organ and electric guitar rides sound like they were calculated to please a twelve-year-old. 'Can Do' is the most adventurous cut on the record in that it has some punchy accents (provided by their grossly underused drummer Aynsley Dunbar) and a strangely-concocted chorus but by now I just want to get this listening session over with ASAP. The closer is 'Opened the Door,' yet another pop rock turd that gives away its purpose for existing in the first 15 seconds and then subjects this reviewer to another 5 minutes or so of worthless muzak while he tries to keep his chicken and dumplings dinner down.

I recently ripped the Canadian trio Triumph a new orifice over their blatant mimicking of other bands that were enjoying having hit records at about the same time and there's no question that Journey was one of the entities they were trying to emulate. They should've aimed higher. In that era the music industry had an endless supply of faux hard rock combos coming off the assembly line like VW Beetles but few if any of them had the gall to intimate that their roots were in prog soil as Journey did. Some may opine that I've been too brutal in my assessment of 'Infinity' but I don't concur. This record is as satisfying as an unflavored rice cake and should be avoided at all cost. Kids, this is what selling out looks like. Journey may have started their career with lofty musical goals in mind but they turned into a prime example of what happens when musicians abandon their ideals and opt to chase riches and fame instead of their ingenuity. 0.1 star.

Chicapah | 1/5 |


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