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Don’t start believin’ in reissued Journey album

Sean Sweany | Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some bands are one hit wonders. Others, especially many from the 1970s and ’80s, can be termed “several hit wonders.” Journey is a band that falls into this category. While well-known and loved for such hits as “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Any Way You Want It” and “Wheel in the Sky,” ask most people to name several other Journey songs and they will be at a loss.

Most of the songs on Journey’s 1983 album “Frontiers” are the obscure, unknown type that can cause fans to wonder just how Journey had any hits at all. “Frontiers” was Journey’s eighth album release, no doubt intended to capitalize on the success of the “Escape” album, which debuted “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Much of this success was due to lead singer Steve Perry, famous for his wildly long black hair and the outrageous costumes he wore on stage. Perry’s talent goes without question, as he is able to consistently hit impossibly high notes with an ease that defies most. The other musicians in the band at this time were also talented in their roles, as their previous albums had demonstrated.

Unfortunately, this album does not capture that same success but rather portrays Journey as a trippy 1980s band that uses too many synthesizers. The album begins on a good pace with “Separate Ways (Open Arms),” a second tier Journey song that is still likable and catchy. After this, however, the album falls into an abyss from which it can hardly recover.

Songs titles such as “Chain Reaction” and “Edge of the Blade” should give some indication as to the quality of the music in the middle of the disc. Journey will always be known as a band that liked to use synthesizers, but they are overused here. Other futuristic-sounding instruments make many of the songs seem more fitting as background music for a bad sci-fi theme park than as songs on an album of a hit band.

The lyrics for these songs, which are at times few and far between, are unimaginative and dull, which does not help the excessive use of instruments. The title song, “Frontiers,” is one of the worst on the CD. Perry’s vocals often get overlaid on top of each other and several sound effects help make this a truly awful song.

In spite of all this, there are several songs listed as “Bonus Tracks” at the end that are not as bad as the rest. “Only the Young” and “Ask the Lonely” are two songs that sound more like the Journey that gives us hits like “Wheel in the Sky.” The only problem is that these songs are so far towards the end of the CD that many listeners might switch it off before even getting this far.

While the music is terrible, the album cover and insert can make for an interesting way to pass the time of the CD. From trippy artwork to photos of Journey on tour, one can tell that the band members they clearly enjoyed themselves while on tour for “Frontiers.” One photo even shows the band freefall skydiving, perhaps symbolizing their careers.

When Journey reaches the end of “Frontiers,” many listeners will wish they could have back the 45 or so minutes spent trying to appreciate Journey. The album is slightly entertaining as it hearkens back to the wild years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but aside from “Separate Ways,” better Journey can be found to suit this same purpose.