|First posted 9/12/2020.|
A Brief History:
Journey began as an offshoot of Santana when the latter’s guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rolie jumped ship to form a new band in 1973. Through three albums, they maintained a progressive rock/jazz sound before switching to a more radio-friendly sound propelled by bombastic rock songs and power ballads. Much of that had to do with the arrival of Steve Perry, who’d take over lead vocal duties for the next two decades during the band’s most successful years.
The Studio Albums:
Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the anthologies below are noted. If the song charted, the date of the song’s release or first chart appearance and its chart peaks are noted in parentheses. Click for codes to singles charts.
Starting out as an offshoot of Santana, Journey focused more on the instrumental abilities of its players in the early days as they honed a sound that mixed jazz and progressive rock.
Look into the Future (1976):
The band lost rhythm guitarist George Tickner, but maintained the rest of the lineup and a similar sound for their sophomore outing.
This was the finale for Journey’s more progressive rock sound before they moved to a more radio-friendly, arena-rock sound.
Steve Perry’s first album with Journey marked the turn of the tides. Their first three albums had been more progressive-rock and jazz-leaning affairs, but with Infinity the band had their sites set on the classic rock world. The album sold three million copies. None of Journey’s first three albums even hit gold status.
Like its predecessor, Evolution sold three million copies. This time, however, the band also landed its first top-40 hit.
Having built a loyal fan base with Infinity and Evolution, Journey were now headed for the big leagues. Like the two albums before it, Departure sold three million copies. This time, however, the band would crack the top-ten of the album chart.
Dream After Dream (1980):
Despite release during the height of Journey’s powers, this soundtrack to the Japanese fantasy film Yume, Yume No Ato, garnered almost no attention. That was primarily because the album was dominated by instrumental throwbacks to the band’s earlier, pre-Infinity progressive rock/jazz days. Still, Little Girl, one of the few songs with Steve Perry vocals on it, should have mustered a little more curiosity among the Journey faithful.
This was the first live album from Journey. This was a double-platinum, top-ten album. It featured a new studio cut (The Party’s Over) and a live song (Dixie Highway) which had never been released on a Journey album.
Journey’s sole #1 album sold nine million copies on the strength of three top-ten pop hits. Open Arms became the band’s biggest chart hit and Don’t Stop Believin’ would become the band’s biggest seller over time, thanks to publicity a quarter century later from use in the TV Shows The Sopranos and Glee.
Frontiers couldn’t match the success of Escape, but it was still the second-best charting and selling album of the band’s career. It gave them their fourth top-ten hit with Separate Ways and three more top-40 hits.
Raised on Radio (1986):
This was another multi-platinum affair which was a top-ten hit on the Billboard album chart and gave the band yet another top-ten hit.
“Greatest Hits is an excellent, thorough 14-track collection containing all of Journey’s big hits, from 1978’s Wheel in the Sky to 1986’s I’ll Be Alright Without You. Although the songs aren't presented in chronological order and a handful of minor hits (‘Suzanne,’ ‘Walks Like a Lady’) aren't included, it doesn’t matter, since every essential Journey single…is here, which means that it's all most casual fans will ever need.” AMG The album includes two songs which hadn’t been released on a Journey album before. Ask the Lonely was first available on the Two of a Kind soundtrack and Only the Young came from the soundtrack for Vision Quest.
Like many box sets, this set tries to appease casual fans and the diehards simultaneously. The result is that neither side will be completely satisfied. Over the three discs, there are about a disc’s worth of mostly previously-unreleased rarities (listed below). The rest of the collection is a mix of singles and album cuts. One has to ask why the box set needs to cover 7 of the 10 songs from Escape - and instead of 7 more songs from the Captured live album, wouldn’t it have been more interesting to mix in more previously-unreleased live cuts. Alas, this is what we get.
Trial by Fire (1996):
After ten years, Journey returned – and the classic lineup of Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, and Steve Smith who gave the world Escape and Frontiers, the band’s two most successful albums. Even after a decade away, Journey managed a top-20 pop hit with When You Love a Woman. The song accomplished a first for the band – it was their maiden voyage to the top of the adult contemporary chart.
There weren’t any new tracks on this collection to whet fans’ appetites. In fact, it’s hard to know why this sold two million copies as it isn’t really any more than a deluxe repackaging of the 1988 Greatest Hits album. Disc 1 almost repeats the track order of that compilation.
This means the second disc is dominated by minor hits and album cuts. One would think that would at least make this an exhaustive set covering every song that ever charted for Journey. Nope. “Too Late,” “Stay Awhile,” “Walks Like a Lady,” “Dixie Highway,” “Only Solutions,” “Suzanne,” and “Why Can’t this Night Go on Forever,” “If He Should Break Your Heart,” and “Can’t Tame the Lion” were all hits on one chart or another and could have been included here instead of an overabundance of album cuts. “Little Girl,” from the Dream After Dream soundtrack would also have been a sensible addition. And how do you miss the mark by not pairing “Anytime” with “Feeling That Way,” one of the great two-fers of classic rock radio? To be fair, some of these did appear on the third disc of the limited edition set, but considering that third disc (see notes) only had eight cuts, it still made for a subpar job.
This collection would have also worked much better if it were compiled chronologically. That would balance the better known songs over two discs instead of loading them all up on the first disc. About the only thing this collection has over the previous Greatest Hits and Time 3 collections is the inclusion of three cuts from 1996’s Trial by Fire.
Notes: A limited edition offered another disc’s worth of material: (1) Don’t Stop Believin’ (live) (2) Stone in Love (live) (3) When I Think of You (4) Suzanne (5) Walks Like a Lady (6) Feeling That Way (7) Mother Father (live) (8) I Can See It in Your Eyes
Greatest Hits 2
Like The Essential collection, there’s nothing here that hadn’t been released before, but this set does correct some of the mistakes of that compilation. While this one still misses some chart hits, it does have “Feeling That Way,” “Stay Awhile,” “Little Girl,” and “Suzanne” – all songs left off of the two-disc Essential. It is still hard to understand who this set was for. Clearly the record companies hoped the 15 million fans who bought the first greatest hits set would pony up for this one as well. They didn’t. The album peaked at #93 and didn’t even crack the half-million mark in sales.
Notes: An international version added a live version of “Don’t Stop Believin’” as a bonus track.
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