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Journey - Infinity CD (album) cover

INFINITY

Journey

 

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2.81 | 109 ratings

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TenYearsAfter
2 stars "How a record company and a lead singer radically changed the sound from captivating prog into smooth AOR"

The roots of Journey go back to a highschool were Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie met, and exchanged musical ideas. A few years later the two friends started to make impression in Santana his band but they decided to found their own group, named Journey (including ex-Zappa drummer Aynsley Dunbar). In 1975 their eponymous debut album was released, an awesome blend of varied styles with the Journey trademark: howling and biting, often wah-wah drenched guitar soli from Neal Schon and strong, very distinctive vocals and powerful Hammond organ from Gregg Rolie (one of the most underrated masters on this vintage keyboard). The band got a lot of praise, but two albums later the record company CBS was no longer pleased with their progressive music: it was not on the commercial radio and simply didn't sell, that was not expected with the two 'Santana stars'. So CBS asked for a leadsinger and a more commercial sound. Journey did what CBS wanted, first with Robert Fleischman (early 1977) and then with Steve Perry (late 1977), he turned out to be the perfect choice, for CBS, and the band members their wallets. So my dear Journey went from genuine progressive rock to pure AOR, sold millions and millions and every massive stadium tour was sold out. Who cared about the few fans that were disappointed about this radical change of a musical direction by Journey?

The album Infinity is the first album with new lead singer Steve Perry and became a huge success, the album got a platinum status and the single Wheel In The Sky reached #57 in the USA Billboard Top 100. But how about the music? Well, it hardly sounds progressive, although all members from the original line-up still were part of the band. The focus is on Steve Perry his voice, he colours the music in compositions that alternate between dreamy ballads and song oriented melodic rock, very accessible and predictable. Neal Schon delivers some great harder-edged guitar soli, but if you compare his contributions on Infinity with their first album (in songs like Of A Lifetime, Kohoutek and Topaz), it's pretty obvious that CBS had taken over control. And the fans loved this new Journey and their charismatic frontman Steve Perry, they knew every word of the lyrics, they hailed and adored the band.

But for me Journey is the story of a lead singer who changed the sound of a band, from prog to AOR. And I was a fan right from the beginning, I bought their debut LP in 1975, attended their Dutch Pinkpop gig in 1978 (Infinity tour) and even their Dutch Departure tour in my former hometown The Hague in 1980. But then I decided to get rid of Journey, and even more embraced my new heroes Rush who I had also followed since 1975, and also seen at the legendary Dutch Pinkpop festival (in 1979).

TenYearsAfter | 2/5 |

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