On July 17, 1981, "Journey" released their 7th studio album.
On this album, "Journey" reinvented itself. It became its best-selling studio album with sales of over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone. An album that became a milestone for "AOR" and "Hair Metal" bands such as Bon Jovi, "Cinderella", "Poison, and more, Who will try to recreate the successful formula in albums that will combine sweet metal ballads alongside melodic hard rock songs.
What's more, this is the album that produced the band's biggest hit "Don't Stop Believin'" which on February 25, 2021, crossed the one billion streaming mark on Spotify, a mark that belongs only to a small handful of rock bands such as "Queen" with "Bohemian Rhapsody".
This tremendous success is largely attributed to changes in the band's lineup and the departure of lead keyboardist and singer Greg Rollie who was also the heart and soul of the band up to that point. "Journey" was founded in San Francisco, California in 1973 by guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist and singer Greg Rollie, who had just left the band "Santana". The musical style that characterized the band in its infancy was a progressive rock with jazz and fusion. The band then numbered four members and after three failed albums, the record company Columbia pressured the band to add a leading charismatic singer and change their music style.
The long-awaited change came in the fourth album "Infinity" released in 1978, then the band was joined by singer Steve Perry, whose the initial intention was that he will share the singing roles with Greg Rollie and Neal Schon. This change dictated by the record company was enough for Greg Rollie, who in the late 1980s decided to leave the band. Understandably, Rollie's departure was no small event. Rarely will a band manage to survive after the departure of one of its leaders and the living spirit behind it, let alone reinvent itself and even be more successful. However, the story of "Journey" is one of those rare cases and today it can be said that the band's tremendous success was made possible because of (and not despite) Rollie's departure, as his departure allowed the entry of keyboardist, singer, and guitarist Jonathan Cain, who is British pop-rock band "The Babys" in which he was a member just broke up. Cain became one of the band's three main writers and contributed greatly to its immense popularity and success.
With Cain's help, the band managed to create a new sound and style on this album that combined hard rock, heavy metal, AOR, and pop, with melodic and catchy songs alongside saccharine ballads that burned the charts and were played non-stop on radio stations.
The combination of Steve Perry, Neal Schon, and Jonathan Cain seems to have been exactly what the band needed to create the "big bang". This album produced some of the band's biggest hits, including "Don't Stop Believin'". Cain's classic piano opening with Perry's gentle voice creates an overwhelming melodic combination that can't be resisted. And how beautiful is Neal Schon's guitar that really had to be held back here for a whole minute before pouring metallic rain straight from the palm-muted strings of his guitar. This rain that starts as a light drizzle slowly turns into a heavy rain that ends with the moaning of the guitar that just screams its pain into the sky. What an amazing travel song with a very special structure. Anyone looking for a chorus will not really find it here. This song does not have a traditional pattern of Verse, catchy chorus, bridge, Verse, Catchy Chorus Etc. The verse and the bridge are the catchy ones here and the seemingly chorus with the words "Don't Stop Believin'" comes only at 3:20 of the song. And what bass playing from Ross Valory we get here. Ross who also sings background vocals simply transcends himself, and this happens throughout the album with intelligent, bold, and dominant bass playing.
Listen to Neal Schon's simple and catchy riff in "Stone in Love", but make no mistake even for a moment, Schon is capable of much more than that and if you have doubts listen to his short and fast solo at 1:53 and the long solo that starts at 2:36. Neal Schon is a great guitarist, technical and precise, but his greatness is actually in restraint and emotion and that is reflected in this album in particular. He knows when to come in with a crazy solo and when needed he knows how to take it back and settle for a little touch, a clumsy line, or short and smart guitar sentences, which may sound small but add so much. It may not sound like it but Neal Schon is present and acting at every moment on this album, as in the breaking and exciting solo at the end of the song "Who's Crying Now" the first and most successful single from the album, and he just bounces the song to another level.
The album also includes "Open Arms" which became the band's biggest hit from the album. The song's roots go to Cain's band "The Babys", for which he wrote the original melody. The band refused to accept the song as being too "saccharine" but here it became an amazing and timeless rock ballad. The song went into quite a few soundtracks of movies and series and even won many cover versions including even of Barry Manilow, "Boyz II Men" and Celine Dion.
One of our favorite songs on the album is "Mother, Father", a true classic designed by the father of Neal Schon, jazz musician Matt Schon who also received joint credit for his writing. A melodic and melodramatic song, full of emotion with an ingenious chord structure, which develops until it culminates with a surrealistic, amazing, and harmonious outing.
It is interesting to note that the remastered version of the album includes the song "La Raza del Sol" which was released as a b-side to the song "Still They Ride" - another melancholic and addictive ballad, which was released as the fourth single from the album. The song corresponds with Neal Schon's early days in Santana's Latin rock and features a crazy solo of his.