For many, Journey are the band who define AOR better than anyone else. Their catalogue glitters with unforgettable anthems, which not only contain massive choruses, but also the sort of musicianship you might expect from a band who began life as jazz rock instrumentalists before embracing the melodic rock style for which they’re renowned. We've gone through the band's back catalogue and hand-picked their 10 finest moments.
10. Girl Can’t Help It (1986)
After taking a break from the band to work on his solo album Street Talk, vocalist Steve Perry was persuaded to return to the fold for 1986's Raised On Radio album. While the production shows a clear-cut influence of the times, Perry’s vocals shine as brightly as ever, while Jonathan Cain’s smooth keyboards complement Neal Schon’s edgy guitar stride.
9. Faithfully (1983)
This is the way Journey explained the problems of trying to carry on a relationship while out on the road touring. One of the stand-out tracks from 1983's Frontiers, Faithfully has a soft lilt that exposes an emptiness. However, this is augmented by the lush rhythm and the way that Steve Perry croons his way through without ever wallowing in over emotional hyperbole. A power ballad in the best Journey tradition.
8. Lovin, Touchin’, Squeezin’ (1979)
Anyone who thinks that Journey aren’t capable of anything other than slushy ballads really should check out Lovin, Touchin’, Squeezin’ from 1979's Evolution album. It has a funk groove, and while the tempo is very much of the balladic kind, Neal Schon stabs through with some electrifying moments. What’s more, Steve Perry’s vocals soar impressively to ensure maximum dramatic impact. One of the highlights on Evolution.
7. Lights (1978)
The opening song from 1978's Infinity record – the album that introduced Steve Perry to the world, and also put the band’s new-found melodic style on display for the very first time. It’s easy to tell why American radio fell in love with Journey at this point in time. The music is filled with commercial astuteness, the harmonies are sublime and the whole timbre of Lights is evocative and stylish. This oozes the sort of class that would become the norm for Journey in the coming years.
6. Who’s Cryin’ Now (1981)
Who’s Cryin’ Now begins with an unvarnished piano piece from Jonathan Cain, on which Steve Perry builds his rich tone. And Ross Vallory provides some tasteful bass lines, to underline the whole feel of the song. This is the type of track that accentuates Perry’s love for great soul singers, while it also showcases the way in which Journey stood apart from all the huge selling AOR masters, and why Escape is regarded as the classic Journey album.
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5. Stone In Love (1981)
The fact this song opens up with shards of Neal Schon's guitar riffing proves that Journey were always prepared to give full weight to the heavier side of their talent. And Steve Perry also comes across with a lot more power than you might expect. This is a song where Journey never forget about the melody, but also give free rein to a rocky vibe. It also accentuates that Escape was always far more than just a collection of power ballads.
4. Any Way You Want It (1980)
It may seem odd, but this song was actually inspired by Thin Lizzy, with whom Journey had toured a couple of years before recording the Departure album in 1980. But when you dig down and analyse the way in which the vocals are constructed, and the interchange between the instruments, then the influence becomes a lot clearer. There’s a gliding feel to the guitar parts that does feel like it is Thin Lizzy influenced, and Steve Perry adopts a storytelling style that is close to the Phil Lynott approach – and the whole feel suits Journey superbly.
3. Wheel In The Sky (1978)
Wheel In The Sky was co-written by Robert Fleischman, the band’s original choice of vocalist when they moved into a more commercial direction. However, when Fleischman didn’t work out and was replaced by Steve Perry, the song was thankfully retained. It starts with a flashing guitar groove, through which Perry cuts with a vibrant performance. In some ways, this is a basic live performance from the band, bringing a heavier dynamic to bear, but this fitted right into the whole feel of Infinity, and showed Journey could pound with the best.
2. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (1983)
After the enormous success of the Escape album, how did the band choose to open up their next album Frontiers? With a powerhouse rocker than fitted right into an era where AOR was beginning to become a little less reliant on studio technology and celebrated talent. Of course, the rich production is evident here, but what makes the song work superbly is that way Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry and Neal Schon intertwine. There’s a buoyancy in Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) that tells of a band who are really playing off of each other’s strengths. The result is undeniably passionate.
1. Don’t Stop Believin’ (1981)
Is there anyone on the planet who does not know this song? It has got to be one of the most exposed tracks over the past two decades or so. And, because it’s so well known, it’s very easy to lose sight of just why this is so popular. Because Don’t Stop Believin’ is a peerless example of musical genius. Everything about it is simply perfect – the musicality, the vocals, the simple structure, the insistent melody… hell, this is not just Journey’s best song, it’s one of the truly landmark moments of the 80s.