If I had not included a title for this music review posting would you have been able to identify the band with song titles like “Look Into the Future”, “Spaceman”, or “Next”? Probably not. Those songs were on the three pre-Steve Perry Journey albums. I say pre-Steve Perry because after he joined Journey they made hits that you probably will recognize. Songs like “Anyway You Want It”, “Don’t Stop Believing”, and “Open Arms” to just name a few. Steve Perry created quite a distinction in Journey. Prior to his joining the band and his eventual departure from it, they just were a different band. Prior to Perry, the band Journey was formed out of the hugely popular Latin/Rock band Santana. Two members Neal Schon on lead guitar, and Greg Rolie on keyboards, joined with other studio musicians to create a backup band for established San Francisco Bay area musicians. They called themselves the Golden Gate Rhythm Section. They eventually abandoned the “backup band” concept and developed a jazz-fusion style of music. The original lineup became Schon, Rolie, bassist Ross Valory, and british session drummer Aynsley Dunbar. They would record the three albums mentioned previously before they became the epitome of what an arena rock band was in the late seventies and all through the eighties. In the nineties Journey recorded one studio album before Steve Perry had a hiking accident in Hawaii. He could not perform without hip replacement surgery, which he refused to undergo. Journey replaced Perry with several singers over the years but no one could match the style or popularity of Steve Perry. If you listen to any of the albums with those replacement singers you can hear that they were definitely trying to match the popular sound of the previous Journey.
Fast forward to June 3rd, 2008. Journey releases it’s newest project called “Revelation” with new vocalist Arnel Pineda, who they found while viewing videos on YouTube.com. The new album was released exclusively through Walmart and with Frontier Records. The album features 11 new songs, 11 re-recorded greatest hits and a DVD featuring the current lineup’s March 8, 2008 concert in Las Vegas. I am only going to focus my review on the new material. The current band lineup is Arnal Pineda – lead vocals, Neal Schon – all guitars, Jonathan Cain – keyboards, Ross Valory – bass, and Deen Castronovo – drums. After hearing the first track “Never Walk Away” I was checking the name on the lead vocals again. The vocal style of new vocalist Pineda is hauntingly like that of Steve Perry. The lead in guitar rhythm is trademark Neal Schon, and I can hear just of hint of “Don’t Stop Believing”. Let alone the positive song title similarities. The next track is called “Like A Sunshower” is a very nice slow ballad along the lines of “Stay Awhile” from the album “Departure”. The song really takes me back to a time when Journey ruled the ballad. The lyrics say:
We find the sun through the rain
Caught in a sunshower
We’ll be all right, no one’s to blame
After the storm, we’ll shine
So rare you and me disagree
Love’s like a sunshower
The third track “Change For The Better” continues their positive theme. It really kicks in with a more unique sound for Schon cranking on his Les Paul with some mixed distortion that sounds really cool. The two lead solos in the song are vintage Neal Schon. Precise, fast, melodic, and fit the song. The next song “Wildest Dreams” is a little more playful than the previous three songs. The song sounds like Jonathan Cain had a heavier hand in writing as it is more keyboard oriented, but the guitars definitely kick the song with an extreme solo near the end.
The album highlights are “Never Walk Away”, “Like A Sunshower”, “After All These Years” is another haunting ballad reminiscent of the 1980’s Journey “Open Arms”, or “Faithfully”. The song is a tribute to faithful love with the chorus crooning:
After all these years
You stood by me
The days and nights that I was gone
After all these years
You sacrificed, believed in me
And you stood strong
‘Cause with our love there’s nothing left to fear
After all these years
“Where Did I Lose Your Love” is a well composed song that is produced with just the right mix of guitar and keyboards. Other highlights include “Turn Down The World Tonight” is a well written song about taking time for each other by unplugging the life streaming at us so fast. It is nice reminder for me to take the time and enjoy the company of my faithful, loving partner in this life. I love you Rib. Sorry for the corny, romantic stuff guys. The last track is an instrumental piece called “The Journey”. It is the most progressive stuff I have heard from Journey since their earlier three albums. Nice job guys!
Some folks may think this album sounds like they are trying to hard to sound like the old Journey. To some extent they would be correct. I have to admit that I wanted to find a mullet wig and play my air guitar after hearing the album for the first time. But after listening to the album a second time you start to notice some subtle changes that make this new Journey distinct. I give the new Journey album “Revelation” four stars out of five.
Please check out the live video version of their new single “After All These Years”. Lyrics here.