The Best of Journey
Yeah, they’re still touring today. But, now they boast a former Journey cover band vocalist from Philippines behind the mic. They do record new music, but as far as I’m concerned what we see and hear today is just not authentic Journey. That ended when Steve Perry permanently walked away a few decades ago.
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“Don’t Stop Believin'” is one of the most popular rock songs ever, and it’s a damn good tune, no matter how many times I’ve heard a slew of drunk friends butcher it late at night, but is it their best? Read on to see where I think it falls on their best songs list.
The first three albums really were decent but not especially popular, with only one of them barely cracking the Billboard 100. But then, in 1978, Steve Perry joined the band for Infinity, and things kind of exploded. Over the next decade, they were one of the most popular bands in the world and they created some wonderful, timeless rock ‘n roll. It took forever to whittle down their vast collection of fantastic songs to a dozen, and as you will soon see, some excellent tracks had to be left off.
Here’s our RARA’s Farm farmer’s dozen
(most of the songs are available in the iTune links below the article)
Bonus Track: Who’s Crying Now – This one was the choice of my old friend Bob Thietje who just lost his battle with ALS. When I recently asked him what his favorite Journey song was, he selected this hit from Escape, which features creative vocals from Perry, bracketed by prominent bass from Ross Valory and keys from Jonathan Cain. Neal Schon’s solo which closes the songs is excellent, as well. Bob got me into Journey, and this is the one that hooked him into the group. It’s a great choice, and one that I’ll let stand on its own.
12. Anyway You Want It – Mesmerizing, hard driving guitar and Thin Lizzy inspired riffs power this song, which received a nice boost when it was later featured as the dance track for Rodney Dangerfield in the movie Caddyshack.
11. Mystery Mountain – This one was off of their 1975 debut. It’s a progressive rock offering (pre-Perry) and a lot different than what most fans think of Journey, but the song still has some of the same elements we hear in the band’s future hits. Check it out if you like old classic guitar rock.
10. Open Arms – This one has a very interesting back story. Jonathan Cain wrote it for John Waite and The Baby’s. Waite hated it, so years later he pitched it to Journey. The consummate 80’s power ballad became the band’s highest charting single ever, reaching #2 on the Billboard charts.
9. Lights – Rumor has it that this ode to San Francisco was originally an ode to L.A. In any case, from the comfortably fuzzy opening guitar notes, this one is a meandering journey that boasts sweet guitars throughout. The drums are big and anthemic, and the tune shows off the diversity and power of Perry’s voice.
8. Stone In Love – One of their heavier rockers, and a song that got lost just a bit on their killer album Escape, which sold 10 million copies and boasted a handful of hits. Perry’s vocals are again strong, but this track is all about Neal Schon. His guitar dominates from the first notes; the riffs are catchy as hell and the solos exquisite.
7. Separate Ways – One of two songs off of Frontiers, which I kind of feel was the beginning of the end for the band. So much different than anything they had done before, this one is a keyboard driven rocker with hard-driving guitars and freight train drums.
6. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ – The ominous bass line immediately sucks you in and then Perry’s opening lines “You make me weep, I wanna die,” nails the vibe. The song offers wonderful piano work, and heartfelt vocals from Perry, as you can feel the pain and anguish in each verse.
5. Anytime – One of a handful of worthy choices off of their breakthrough album Infinity. Harmonies like we had never heard before on a rock song. Keyboardist Gregg Rolie sang the lead vocals despite the fact that this was Perry’s first album with the band. The little drum piece towards the end was priceless, too.
4. Wheel In the Sky – Love the way the songs starts with a 30 second instrumental that builds to a crescendo before we hear the debut of Steve Perry’s magnificent voice. The interplay between the voice and Schon’s guitars is excellent. This was Journey’s first Top 100 hit, and basically the end of the brief career of interim vocalist Robert Fleischman.
3. Don’t Stop Believin’ – It has been played to death over the last decade, but once you get past that, it is still a fantastic song. Is there a better opening keyboard riff on any other hit rock song? And, from that riff on, it’s almost a perfect rock radio song. And, get used to it, this one is going to be played for many more years.
2. Faithfully – One of the best rock ballads ever. Perry’s vocals are wonderful, but so are the piano and the understated guitar pieces. The poignant lyrics, penned by Jonathan Cain reflect on the challenges of a musician constantly on the road who struggles to keep his marriage strong. Sadly, the marriage didn’t have the same lasting power of this timeless ballad.
1. Feeling That Way – This song is just about perfect, and really should always be played back to back with “Anytime” (#5 on this list). To me, this is the consummate Journey song. It was originally written as an instrumental that was left off of the third album, and when you listen to the song, you see a beautifully constructed rock song. It was reborn when Perry joined the band, and shows the band transitioning vocals from Rolie to Perry. It starts off with Rolie singing alone while he tickles the piano and slowly blossoms into a huge rock anthem that Perry carries home. Just a great song and a track that captures EVERYTHING that made the band so special.
So, there you have it. My top dozen Journey songs, with a little divine help from a friend. I’ll forever think of you, Bob Thietje when I hear the fantastic music of Journey.
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