Deep Album Cuts Vol. 90: Journey

Journey are among this year's inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And while it's not a shock, it makes total sense to me that they got in now and not 15 or 16 years ago when they were first eligible. Growing up, I remember Journey being talked about almost interchangeable with Foreigner and other 'corporate rock' bands that peaked in the '70s and early '80s and seemed to almost bizarrely dominate classic rock radio as much as more respected canonical bands like Led Zeppelin. But in the 21st century, as Steve Perry and Journey's sins of slick, catchy rock and blue eyed soul became less stigmatized, the band became more widely beloved, if not entirely respected, and "Don't Stop Believin'" started to enter the canon as one of contemporary pop/rock's great standards, even before that whole thing with "The Sopranos" finale happened. VH1 made a '100 Greatest Artist of All Time' list in 1998 and Journey weren't on it. When they held another vote and updated the list in 2010, Journey made the cut. Still, they're remembered fondly as a hits band; the albums have largely not been dug into or reevaluated of late any more than they had been when they were selling millions of copies.

Journey Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Keep On Runnin'
2. Where Were You
3. Can Do
4. Someday Soon
5. In The Morning Day
6. Hustler
7. You're On Your Own
8. Feeling That Way
9. Lovin' You Is Easy
10. Little Girl
11. Ask The Lonely
12. Escape
13. Raised On Radio
14. Next
15. Look Into The Future
16. Departure
17. Trial By Fire
18. Chain Reaction
19. Sweet And Simple

Track 5 from Journey (1975)
Tracks 7 and 15 from Look Into The Future (1976)
Tracks 6 and 14 from Next (1977)
Tracks 3 and 8 from Infinity (1978)
Tracks 9 and 19 from Evolution (1979)
Tracks 2, 4 and 16 from Departure (1980)
Track 10 from Dream, After Dream (1980)
Tracks 1 and 12 from Escape (1981)
Tracks 11 and 18 from Frontiers (1983)
Track 13 from Raised On Radio (1986)
Track 17 from Trial By Fire (1996)

The voice of virtually all of Journey's biggest hits, Steve Perry, famously didn't even enter the picture until the band's 4th album. By that point, Santana alumni Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie had been leading the band for five years, with Rollie on keyboards and lead vocals, with no hits. Then, Perry entered the picture, they had their first Hot 100 entry with "Wheel In The Sky," and they were off to the races. Rolie would remain in the band for the first three Perry era albums (departing, appropriately, shortly after Departure), but mostly as a keyboardist. They released some tracks with Rolie vocals as singles, but they generally charted lower than the Perry tracks, and never made their way into modern day classic rock rotation.

The odd thing about Journey's vastly different fortunes after the frontman change is that it's not like Gregg Rolie is box office poison; he sang lead on several huge Santana hits, including "Black Magic Woman" and "Evil Ways." But the contrast in voices is really illustrated well on songs like "Feeling That Way" and "Someday Soon," which both start with Rolie's voice and sound just fine, but then totally come alive when Perry shows up. But I have a soft spot for the Gregg Rolie era, and it seemed appropriate to showcase deep cuts from those early albums a fair amount even though they didn't spin off any big hits. Those early years are also preserved fondly in the compilation In The Beginning, a favorite of prog snobs who think the band sold out when Perry showed up. The band's early albums charted in Japan, and that popularity apparently led to the band soundtracking an anime film, Dream, After Dream, at the height of their popularity. That record is apparently also a favorite of Journey prog heads, although only one track is currently commercially available, as a bonus track on the remastered Departure.

There are some pretty awesome deep cuts from the Steve Perry era that sound like they could've been hits, particularly "Ask The Lonely," "Lovin' You Is Easy," and "Keep On Runnin'." I'm pretty fond of Roy Thomas Baker production on Infinity and Evolution, which has the familiar crunch of his work with Queen. The title track to Raised On Radio is nice, if not nearly as good as the track Baltimore band The Ravyns placed on the Fast Times At Ridgmont High soundtrack a few years earlier. When an act puts a lot of title tracks on their albums without releasing them as singles, I like to cluster them together, so you can see that on tracks 12 through 17. "Sweet And Simple" felt to me like an apt closer that functions as something of a summary of the band's appeal.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
Vol. 62: The Posies
Vol. 63: The Time
Vol. 64: Gucci Mane
Vol. 65: Violent Femmes
Vol. 66: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Vol. 67: Maxwell
Vol. 68: Parliament-Funkadelic
Vol. 69: Chevelle
Vol. 70: Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio
Vol. 71: Fantasia
Vol. 72: Heart
Vol. 73: Pitbull
Vol. 74: Nas
Vol. 75: Monica
Vol. 76: The Cars
Vol. 77: 112
Vol. 78: 2Pac
Vol. 79: Nelly
Vol. 80: Meat Loaf
Vol. 81: AC/DC
Vol. 82: Bruce Springsteen
Vol. 83: Pearl Jam
Vol. 84: Green Day
Vol. 85: George Michael and Wham!
Vol. 86: New Edition
Vol. 87: Chuck Berry
Vol. 88: Electric Light Orchestra
Vol. 89: Chic
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