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Journey - Next CD (album) cover

NEXT

Journey

 

Prog Related

3.07 | 103 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Who's next... on vocals?

Having released two well considered but commercially unsuccessful albums, Journey became ever more aware that their vocals were seen as the weak point of their material. The three other band members reportedly took singing lessons so that they could harmonise with Gregg Rolie's lead voice, and Neal Schon even stepped up to take lead himself on two tracks on this album. At the same time, the record company became increasingly vocal in their disappointment with the lack of commercial success of what they saw as a spin off from Santana. In response, Journey began to move away from the fusion side of their music, instead attempting to record songs which were shorter and more accessible.

"Next" therefore represents the beginning of one of the most significant transitions in rock history. This though should be seen more as the last of the old than the first of the new, especially since Rollie remains lead vocalist here, Steve Perry not yet being on board.

The opening "Spaceman" is certainly the most radio friendly song the band have recorded thus far, although it retains a creditable element of rock. "People" is more in line with the material on the previous albums, Schon adding some dazzling guitar licks to a heavy, organ driven base. "I Would Find You" opens with some spacey synthesiser sounds, hardly a novelty by 1977, but still futuristic sounding, especially for Journey. The song itself slows things right down in a Hendrix like cod-blues.

Rolie's "Here We Are" is a rather mediocre dirge with off key Beatles like vocals. "Hustler", the shortest track on the album, is standard American hard rock fare, with suitable Motley Crue type lyrics. The title track was co-written by Greg Rolie and Aynsley Dunbar with non band member Heidi Cogdell. The songs reverts to the melodic power rock of the opener, but the so-so vocals and lack of strong melody render it sub-par. The track ends better than it started though, with a brief guitar led jam.

"Nickel and Dime" is the only instrumental included in the set, the track apparently dating from the time of the first album. Former guitarist George Tickner, who left after the début release, is included in a four way writing credit. As such, this piece seems a little out of place here but is a welcome diversion nonetheless. The album closes with "Karma", another rather muddled affair saved by some good lead guitar. The track features one of those strange double endings which were a feature of some songs in the 1970's, most famously Elvis Presley's "Suspicious minds".

In all, a decent if unremarkable album whose lack of success sealed Journey's fate as a prog (related) band.

Another instrumental track called "Cookie Duster" was originally planned for the album (there would have been plenty of room for it), but was omitted. The track, which can be heard on the "Time 3" box set, is also co-credited to Tickner, implying that it too was a left over from the first album. "Cookie Duster" certainly has much in keeping with that album being an electric piano led jazz fusion piece.

After "Next" was released, Journey would, at the behest of the record company, seek to recruit a dedicated lead singer. Robert Fleischman initially took up the role for around 9 months, but no album was released during his tenure. He did however record with the band, and co-wrote several songs which appeared on the next album. One track, "For you", which also features on the "Time 3" album, is the only Journey song known to include his lead vocal. Although slightly higher, his voice is similar to that of Dennis De Young of Styx, the song sounding a bit like a Lawton era Uriah Heep number. Following Fleischman's departure, Steve Perry would join the band, and the transition was immediately complete.

Easy Livin | 3/5 |

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