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Journey - "Generations"

So Much For The Critics

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Journey -

Sanctuary Records

In a career spanning the past 30 years, Journey has released 23 albums that have sold more than 75-million copies, yet they have been regularly dissed by the music press. Rolling Stone has at various times referred to them as "a dead end for San Francisco area rock" and "the perfect karaoke band" and given Journey albums low marks in their annual Rolling Stone Record Guide. So, if I'm Journey, am I going to worry about the critics or the fans?

Musical Experimentation

It isn't as if the band's members are laughing all the way to the bank and thumbing their noses at the critics. One of Journey's original members, guitarist Neal Schon says, “The strongest records we’ve done are Escape and Frontiers, and we took a look at the music on those records and said, ‘Let’s just go back to what we had going on there, the mix of rock and Motown—less pop, more rock and soul.’”

Hence, there is uncharacteristic -- though not entirely unpleasant -- experimentation evident on Generations. In part because each of the band's five members are given the opportunity to do lead vocals on the album, some of the songs don't sound like what you expect Journey to sound like, with influences of Southern Rock and Bourbon Street blues in evidence.

Apparent in many of the songs' themes is a new level of maturity that hasn't exactly been a trademark of Journey songs in the past.

Results

Drummer Deen Castronovo's turn as lead vocalist on A Better Life and Never Too Late produced suprisingly good results. Keyboardist Jon Cain does a competent job on Every Generation, though he has to strain for the high notes. Bassist Ross Vallory, another of the original members still with the band, describes his own gravelly voice as "more like [ZZ Top's] Billy Gibbons and Dr. John" and less "Journey-like" than fans are used to.

Jon Cain says many of the lyrical themes on the album came from the band's time on the road, taking the pulse of the public. That would seem to explain a couple of songs with patriotic overtones: Out of Harm's Way (about a soldier returning home from Iraq) and Faith In the Heartland.

Maturity Plus Longevity

There has been more than a little turnover in personnel over the years. The current band members have been together since 1997, a lifetime in Journey-years. Two of the current members, Neal Schon and Ross Valory, are "founding" members, going back to the days when the band was called Golden Gate Rhythm Section. It's good to see that a band with as much longevity as this one is both willing and able to stretch beyond the norm, and remain a musical force in spite of the critics.

Track List / Credits

1. Faith in the Heartland
2. Place in Your Heart
3. Better Life
4. Every Generation
5. Butterfly (She Flies Alone)
6. Believe
7. Knowing That You Love Me
8. Out of Harms Way
9. In Self-Defense
10. Better Together
11. Gone Crazy
12. Beyond the Clouds
13. Never Too Late (Remix)
14. Generations EPK (CD-ROM Track)

Neal Schon - guitar, vocals
Jonathan Cain - keyboards, vocals
Ross Valory - bass, vocals
Steve Augeri - vocals
Deen Castronovo - drums, vocals

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