Today I’m taking you on a journey through the long running career of the infamous American rock band Journey. Now, I don’t know about you guys but whenever I hear a Journey song come up on the radio it’s an absolute must to sing along at the top of my lungs. Anyhow, Journey has released 13 different albums during their 39 years of being a band. 39 years. That’s longer than most people I know have been alive. So what we’re going to focus on are the albums leading up to their current sound and possibly drag all the band-drama along with us.
Journey’s first album was released in April of 1975 and it wasn’t at all popular. Like, their biggest fans were in Japan where they sold 6,440 copies and it only ranked 138 on the U.S. charts. During this period Journey was focusing on their instrumental talents, which were severely overlooked because Topaz shows some awesome improvised funk-rock riffs. It was also during this time that Gregg Rolie was leading on vocals and not the familiar Steve Perry. My favorite song on the album is To Play Some Music because it’s upbeat and has a bit of a quality where The Doors meets The Jackson 5 which is pretty cool to achieve. There are a few ballads and more upbeat songs on the album that are definitely worth a listen, such as Of A Lifetime and In The Morning of Day. Their second album Look Into The Future, which was released in January 1976 did better on the U.S. charts, ranking it at 100 but flopped in sales more than the previous album. However, their song She Makes Me (Feel Alright) is pumped up with attitude, it’s the type of song you envision as your background music when you’re walking down the street on your way to a hardcore standoff.
The third album Next features a lot of really cool tunes, such as Karma and Hustler. The U.S. charts noticed the progression in Journey’s sound too, because this album ranked in at 85. With this album, it definitely sounds like Rolie ran with the progressive rock style from their previous album and ran with it and that completely works for me. This is also the last album that features Gregg Rolie because the fourth album we finally meet the infamous Steve Perry, my Mom’s main man. The fourth album titled Infinity which was released in 1978 features Steve Perry’s illustrious vocals in his easily recognizable song Wheel in the Sky, which was written by guitarist Neal Schon and bassist Ross Valroy. This album is pretty much what shot Journey to fame after it reached 21 on the U.S. charts and sold over 4 million copies worldwide and went platinum three times. The fifth album released in 1979, Evolution, as properly titled because it showcased just how much Journeys original progressive style had changed. Though Journey still kept the idea of showcasing their instrumental abilities, such as the insane guitar solo in Too Late, it also showcased the vocal element that they didn’t have before.
The sixth album, Departure was released in 1980 with their hit song Any Way You Want It which launched the album to number 8 on the U.S. charts and over 4 million copies sold worldwide, 3.3 million in the U.S. alone. Just when Journey thought they couldn’t get any more popular, their seventh album Escape was released in July 1981 and threw them to the number one spot on the charts, selling over 12 million copies and going platinum nine times. The headlining song on this album? Don’t Stop Believin’, the one song everyone knows even if they say it’s that Glee song and don’t know it’s a Journey song.
Frontiers was the eighth album and was released in 1983 and landed the number two spot on the charts, selling 8 million copies and going platinum six times. Now, this album basically has all my jams on it, which include Separate Ways(Worlds Apart), Faithfully, and Back Talk. All of these are the types of songs that you play on a long drive where you need to just reflect on your life choices and hope that Steve Perry can answer your questions since he wrote just about every song on the album. The ninth album Raised on Radio was released in May 1986 and ruffled the feathers of previous members Steve Smith and Ross Valroy because they wanted the album to be titled Freedom. But this is just music business gossip so no one can entirely be too sure about Smith and Valroy’s reasons for leaving. Raised on Radio didn’t do nearly as well as Journey’s previous albums, but still ranked in at number 4 on the charts and sold just over 4 million copies. This album features a lot of funk elements and some groovy smooth jazz feels underlying the light rock style Journey started taking, which can be heard in It Could Have Been You and Once You Love Somebody.
Trial by Fire was released in October 1996 and was the tenth album as well as the final album to feature Steve Perry. Perry damaged his hip and needed surgery but if he got surgery than the world tour Journey was planning that year would have to be postponed, so Perry quit and Smith followed because the band didn’t seem as interesting without Perry. Now, this album is full of rock ballads such as When You Love A Woman and If He Should Leave You. And from what I remember of 1996 (I was about 4 at the time), rock ballads were pretty popular. I mean, my mom would turn on the radio and that’s what was playing 90% of the time. Anyway, the album came in at spot number 3, but only sold 2 million copies worldwide.
The eleventh album titled Arrival was released in 2001 and marked the arrival of singer Steve Augeri, who has a voice that is quite similar to Perry’s and it’s kind of scary. I’m not gonna lie, when I first heard Signs of Life I thought Perry and the band worked out their differences and were making a comeback. Though the album has some great songs on it, and the new crew tried hard to keep their Steve Perry style, the album only sold 350,000 copies world-wide and bumped Journey down to 56 on the charts. But to be fair, they were up against Backstreet Boys Black & Blue album.
Journey continued this style through their twelfth album from 2005 Generations which can be seen in their song Knowing That You Loved Me which also marks the last album with Augeri. In 2011 Journey got a new singer, Arnel Pineda, and released their thirteenth album Eclipse and brought in a myriad of music styles going from their classic progressive rock to a more electronic feel which is featured in Chain of Love. Eclipse was produced under the idea that it should be more guitar-oriented and less radio-friendly, while at the same time filling up the usual Journey quota for ballads and it seriously delivers. Now, as you can tell I am definitely a Steve Perry purist and I can only blame my mom for that. However Rolie, Augeri, and Pineda all deliver different styles to the group while keeping an underlying feel of the original Rolie Journey through the constant experimentation and Perry Journey through the strong melodic vocal lines and ballads.
Basically, Journey is a big part of my life because of my upbringing and I can’t help but spew out everything I can when people mention them. So if you want to talk more about them or how Steve Perry went solo and would like to join me in singing “Sherrie”, feel free to let me know because throwing it back to those memories of being in the backseat of my moms black 300TD with the dial radio would be great.