Journey


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Few bands have wasted so much talent as Journey. A super-group formed by three California veterans (guitarist Neil Schon and keyboardist Gregg Rolie of Santana, Frank Zappa's drummer Aynsley Dunbar), Journey were famous even before they recorded anything. Their debut album, Journey (Columbia, 1975), began a series of best-sellers that turned Journey into a money-machine. Neil Schon's shimmering guitar riffs propelled energetic and feverish instrumental jams such as Kohoutek and Of A Lifetime

Their technical skills shine on Look Into The Future (1976), that contains Look Into The Future and I'm Gonna Leave You, and on Next (1977). Unfortunately, the music that came later was pedestrian pop-metal for attention-impaired kids, the kind of AOR that would rule the airwaves. New vocalist Steve Perry and the driving and melodramatic Wheel In The Sky made Infinity (1978) the album of a substantially different band. The same album also contains the ballad Lights. Evolution (1979), featuring Steve Smith (a Berklee School alumnus) instead of Dunbar on drums and containing Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin', and Departure (1980), containing Anyway You Want It, led to Escape (1981), the commercial zenith of this phase, adding Jonathan Cain's jazzy electronic keyboards to the mix. Who's Crying Now, Open Arms and Don't Stop Believing are even less original and more kitschy, leaning towards the format of the late-night sentimental ballad. Stone in Love, however, contains Neil Schon's best guitar solo.

Frontiers (1983), with Separate Ways and two more romantic ballads (Faithfully and Send Her My Love), seemed to end the story, but Schon, Perry and Cain reformed Journey to record Raised On Radio (1986), yet another million-seller, with their last choral heavy-metal, Be Good To Yourself, while another yawn-inducing ballad (Only The Young) climbed the charts.

Schon, Cain and John Waite (former Babys vocalist) formed Bad English, an equally (commercially) successful super-group that released Bad English (Epic, 1989), with When I See You Smile and Price of Love, and Backlash (Epic, 1991). But the quality of the music got more and more trivial.

Perry, who had already debuted as a solo artist with Street Talk (Columbia, 1984), which included Oh Sherrie, resumed his solo career with For The Love Of Strange Medicine (1994), which included You Better Wait.

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Assunto come secondo chitarrista da Carlos Santana quando aveva appena quindici anni, promosso a leader nei Journey quando ne aveva soltanto diciannove, con alle spalle quaranta milioni di dischi venduti, Neal Schon era uno degli indiscussi enfant prodige dello strumento. Schon, che aveva gia` registrato due album con il tastierista Jan Hammer, Untold Passion (Columbia, 1981) e Here To Stay (Columbia, 1983), intraprese la carriera solista con Beyond The Thunder (Higher Octave, 1995), un album di acquerelli strumentali nel solco di Craig Chaquico che si servono degli arrangiamenti di Jonathan Cain alle tastiere. Se Send Me An Angel, Big Moon e Call Of The Wild conservano il greve melodismo dei Journey, ma in un contesto meno rock, la melodia triste di Boulevard Of Dreams, strillata dalla chitarra, ne rappresenta il superamento nell'ottica della continuità. Fra esotismo visionario (Bandalero e Zanzibar) e jazz sensuale (Cool Breeze) si fa largo Deep Forest, una ballata acustica accompagnata dall'orchestra. Nel 1995 Schon rimise insieme la formazione originale dei Santana, meno Carlos, con il nome Abraxas. Poi pubblico` il secondo album solista, Electric World (Higher Octave, 1997).

Jonathan Cain esordi` come polistrumentista con Back To The Innocence (Interscope, 1994), a cui fece seguire un album di jazz-rock soffice per pianoforte e orchestra, Piano With A View (Higher Octave, 1995), i cui pezzi migliori (come Tell It To My Heart) sono sostanzialmente "ballad" d'alta classifica. Gli fecero seguito l'esotico Body Language (Higher Octave, 1997) e l'orchestrale For A Lifetime (Higher Octave, 1998).

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Perry, Schon and Cain re-re-formed Journey to record Trial by Fire (Columbia, 1996), which contains the usual mid-tempo rocker, Message of Love, and the ritual slow ballad, When You Love A Woman. Perry left the band before Arrival (2001).

Revelation (2008), featuring new vocalist Arnel Pineda, included a disc of re-recorded classics.

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