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Top L-R: Deen Castronovo, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory Bottom: Arnel Pineda
Journey - 2008 to the present
What follows will probably be of interest only to those who like the American rock band Journey or melodic rock music in general, or those who used to know me in my youth! I have to thank an old friend of mine for introducing me to Journey's music in about 1983 (thanks Rich B). I used to love hanging out with my mates and listening to the latest rock releases on record (i.e. vinyl to those who've grown up in the CD generation!), as well as going to concerts and gigs. I also used to play in a number of local rock bands myself in those days as a drummer (For further info, see Gerry Watts' Music page). Music was pretty much my life back then.

When I first heard Journey's
Frontiers album in 1983 I was hooked. I was totally blown away by Steve Perry's vocals, Neal Schon's guitar solo's, as well as Jon Cain's piano on a few tracks. The melodies and the power of the songs, as well as some of the lyrics, really touched something within me. So I then proceeded to start collecting all of Journey's s albums and other stuff, becoming quite a fan. I didn't really take to their first three albums initially. They had a slightly different line up and the material was quite different, more in the vein of Progressive Rock. More recently, though, I've come to appreciate these earlier albums more than I had before. The change came when, in about 1978, Steve Perry joined as vocalist on the Infinity album. This change of direction was the key, and with Perry's amazing vocals and song-writing talent, along with Schon's fiery, yet majestic, melodic guitar work, they had a unique winning combination.

Then a few years later, the work of keyboardist Jonathan Cain gave them another lift to greater heights with the
Escape album, followed by Frontiers. This was the era of the classic Journey line-up that launched them into the 'supergroup' league. Of course, over the years Journey has gone through some line up changes (and some personnel conflicts) as many bands do, and after two more Journey albums (Raised On Radio & Trial By Fire), in the late 1990's vocalist Steve Perry eventually left. They then had to find a new vocalist (not an easy job at all considering who was being replaced) and another drummer, after Steve Smith also departed the band.
I think Journey's music, old and new, contains a lot of love and sensitivity - as well as some good solid rock songs - and on the whole, they are very melodious. I would say that there is even a spiritual element to their music, at least for me anyhow. This is most definitely the case with their album Eclipse (2011). It's a shame that to many Journey became synonymous with mainly pop/rock AOR ballads (which is wholly justified) because they also know how to rock!

I love the guitar work of Neal Schon. I think he has to be one of the best melodic rock guitarists out there. The melodies, as well as the speed of his fingers, just does something to me, often giving me goose bumps! I have most of his solo albums and I would highly recommend them to anyone who likes electric and acoustic guitar, particularly the albums
Beyond the Thunder, Voice and Eye on U. Late Nite is also a great debut album from the late 1980's.

A selection of some of my favourite Journey (and Neal Schon solo) tracks are on the Jukebox.

I think the
Infinity album (1978) still stands the test of time. It is one of my favourites. Perry's voice is so clear and his range is so.......high! He probably has never sounded better in some respects, although he sounds amazing on Raised on Radio (1986) too, with a more 'mature' sound to his vocals (or should that be 'well-used' vocals!). There's some really beautiful ballads mixed in with some good melodic rock on Infinity, including classics such as Lights, Wheel in the Sky, Feeling that Way, and the epic Winds of March.
They may not be the band that they used to be back in their glory days, but I'm really glad that they're still going - even though I sometimes miss the vocals of early Perry. Having said that, Arnel P. certainly makes up for it. In fact, I like the way their music has progressed to what it is today, having a more gutsy sound that has a modern feel, while still retaining the great elements of classic melodic rock/AOR. You can't stay in the past! And Arnel Pineda's vocals are perfect for this band - Perryesque, yet unique!
Last Updated: 11/06/2012
Their album Escape reached the US Billboard Number 1 spot in 1981 making them rock superstars. Even today tracks like Don't Stop Believin', Open Arms and Who's Crying Now are very popular (well, that's become an understatement with Don't Stop Believin').

The
Frontiers album then reached Number 2 in 1983 (the number 1 spot being blocked by the monster record Thriller by Michael Jackson) and it contains some great tracks such as Separate Ways, Faithfully (this has to be one of the best power ballads there is in my opinion) and a biting rock song Edge of the Blade.

They're 1986 album
Raised on Radio brought some changes with it, and at this point they had virtually become a pop/rock act who were beginning to resemble Duran Duran when on stage! Nevertheless, I still love this album and Perry's vocals are amazing on it.

After almost 10 years apart doing various other projects, the classic Journey line-up of the early 1980's made a bit of a comeback in 1996 with the
Trial By Fire album, with the single When You Love a Woman doing really well. I think this album is a fitting farewell to Steve Perry as Journey front man, although you can clearly hear that his voice is not what it used to be. All in all, the Perry era gave Journey four albums that reached the Number 1, 2, 3 and 4 spots in the USA. Pretty good going!
I still love the music of their subsequent albums Arrival & Generations with vocalist Steve Augeri (pictured below with new drummer Deen Castronovo), who sounds very much like Perry, but I don't think he has the power there. Actually, Augeri was eventually replaced by Jeff Scott Soto in 2007 due to throat problems on tour, but JSS didn't last long.

In 2008, Journey released a new album with a new singer whom Neal Schon had found singing Journey cover songs on YouTube! Well done, Arnel Pineda! And this guy's voice is amazing. He has so much range and power there, and he sings with real feeling - harking back to the days of the Perry era. He brings something new to the band (not least his nationality, he's from the Philippines) and yet he brings familiarity to the old songs too. More than a hint of Divine providence with them discovering Arnel!
Even though I had to wait 24 years, I finally got to see Journey live in concert in March 2007 in Cardiff. It was a miracle how I got there and survived it all, due to my ill health, but it was all worth it. God is sooo good! There are a few photos below which I took at this concert (most came out blurred due to the camera used), and see below for a video clip of Neal Schon from the concert.
Journey (about 1980): L-R Ross Valory, Neal Schon, Steve Perry, Steve Smith and Gregg Rolie
Trial By Fire (1996)
Arrival (2001)
Generations (2005)
Revelation (2008) with Arnel Pineda
Eclipse (2011)
Neal Schon of Journey (Cardiff, Wales, UK, March 2007)
Photos by Gerry Watts
The classic Journey line up from the hair-day, oh, hey-day of the 80's: L-R Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory, Neal Schon, Steve Perry and Steve Smith
Visit the Official Journey Website

Jonathan Cain's Website

Neal Schon's Website

Journey Loaded (A good fan site)
Features 5 new tracks from Journey's epic new album Eclipse (2011)
Here is a video clip of Neal Schon's opening guitar solo at the Indoor Arena, Cardiff, Wales, UK in March 2007. He opened with a grand intro that included the Welsh national anthem 'Land of my Fathers.' Sadly, I only filmed a small portion of it as I needed to conserve storage space on my digi camera, but it turned out that I could've filmed all of it! Doh! Yet even this short clip is very special to me, as Neal looks directly at me during it! (The whole solo is available on YouTube, filmed by someone who was evidently not too far away from us).

Also, attending this concert was a huge deal for me due to my ill health, but I was determined to get there and enjoy it with my then-wife Angela, and my friend Mike, even though it took quite a bit of planning. Thankfully, there was a hotel situated directly opposite the venue! There was great significance in the fact that it was in Cardiff, Wales, as my father was Welsh, and there's Welsh roots on both sides of my family. Whenever I hear the Welsh national anthem while watching a Welsh rugby match on TV, I find it very moving. So, when Neal played this anthem to open the concert...it was a real goose-bump moment! I'll never forget it. Thanks Neal! Oh...and to top it all off, Angela got hold of a Neal Schon guitar pick that he'd thrown our way. Excellent memento...and a very special day.
Here's a few more short clips from the Journey concert in Cardiff. There's about six of them, and you may need to click 'Play' to begin each one if they don't play automatically.
You'll need the Windows Media Player Plug-in to view these clips. If you have problems playing these videos, they're available on YouTube here.