Journey continues its reign at the very top of the short list of second generation San Francisco rock bands whose music has truly stood the test of time. With over 43 million records sold in the U.S. alone, Journey’s rich archive of CDs and DVDs is one of the cornerstones of the Columbia Records and Columbia/Legacy catalog.
For the first time in ten years, a major bloc of the Journey album catalog has been newly repackaged. The band’s fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh consecutive studio LPs, the landmark INFINITY (1978), EVOLUTION (1979), DEPARTURE(1980), and ESCAPE (1981) respectively – the latter two as expanded editions with multiple bonus tracks – along with an expanded edition of their all-time best-selling GREATEST HITS (1988, 14-times platinum, over 500 weeks on the chart, now with one bonus track) will arrive in stores August 1st on Columbia/ Legacy.
It was in 1996, when the classic Journey lineup of guitarist Neal Schon, singer Steve Perry, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bassist Ross Valory, and drummer Steve Smith reconvened for the first time in ten years to record Trial By Fire. Their 10th studio album was also the long-awaited follow-up to 1986’s Raised On Radio. To celebrate the new release in 1996, Columbia/Legacy issued newly digitally remastered CDs of Captured (Journey’s first double-LP and first live album, 1981), and the studio albums Frontiers (1983) and of course Raised On Radio (1986).
In 2001, the 2-CD Essential Journey was released, clocking in with over 130 minutes of chart hits and signature album tracks (1978 to ’96). This was followed in 2003 by Journey Greatest Hits DVD (1978-1997), an 18-clip pro gram that spanned 1978’s “Wheel In the Sky” to 1997’s “When You Love a Woman” (from Trial By Fire). In 2005, Live In Houston 1981 - Escape Tour arrived on DVD. This title features one of the first MTV concerts ever broadcast and has been certifield plantinum by the RIAA.
The last decade has served to underscore how vital a part of rock’s fabric that Journey has always been and will continue to be. A core band at Columbia Records for decades – signed to the company in late-1974 – Journey was the second longest-running group at Columbia well into the late-’90s next to Bay Area labelmates Santana, who were signed in 1968. In fact, it was the Santana lineup (of 1971-72) that gave Journey its founding members Neal Schon, whose lead guitar work and many co-written tunes epitomize Journey’s heart and soul; and fellow ex-Santana keyboardist Gregg Rolie.
Journey’s self-titled debut album was issued in April, 1975. It was followed by Look Into the Future (January 1976) and Next (February 1977), their first LP to break inside the Top 100. Personnel changes took place during this period, but the core of Schon, Rolie, and bassist Ross Valory remained stable.
With the entrance of Steve Perry’s distinctive lead vocals, Journey took a giant step on their fourth album. INFINITY (released in 1978, produced by Roy Thomas Baker), featured their first three mid-chart singles, “Wheel In the Sky,” “Anytime,” and “Lights” b/w “Somethin’ To Hide,” along with the concert favorite, “Patiently.” The LP spent nearly two and a half years on the Billboard chart and went on to RIAA triple-platinum over the next decade.
As touring demands accelerated, jazz trained drummer Steve Smith joined in late-’78 (replacing Brit Aynsley Dunbar, who joined Jefferson Starship). The next album, EVOLUTION (1979, again produced by Baker), contained “Just the Same Way” and Journey’s first major Top 20 hit single, “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.” Again, this LP spent almost two years on the chart but took only five years to reach the RIAA’s three million sales mark.
It was quickly followed in 1980 by DEPARTURE, co-produced by Baker’s assistant Geoff Workman and Journey’s sound engineer Kevin Elson. In addition to “Good Morning Girl/ Stay Awhile,” the album contained the new Journey anthem “Any Way You Want It” (a #23 hit). The tune, in tandem with the band’s popularity in their sixth year out, earned them their first Top 10 album, which has also gone on to triple-platinum over the years. This new expanded edition adds two bonus tracks: “Natural Thing” (B-side of “Don’t Stop Believin’”), and “Little Girl” (from the original motion picture soundtrack of Dream After Dream, an obscure foreign film whose entire score was performed by Journey, and issued on Columbia in 1980).
Journey’s strength at the AOR (Album Oriented Radio) format was so strong that their live double-LP Captured (February 1981) actually yielded a #2 hit on Billboard’s brand-new Album Rock chart with “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly In Love).” Following the release, Rolie left and was replaced by Jonathan Cain (formerly of the Babys), who joined the still stable lineup of Schon, Perry, Valory, and Smith.
Their seventh studio album, the all-time best-selling ESCAPE (August 1981), was co-produced by former engineer Mike Stone (known for his studio work with Queen, Kiss, America and others) and Elson. The LP was released the first week of August 1981, coinciding with MTV’s historic sign-on of 12:01 a.m., August 1st. It was pumped up by the summer take-off single, the Top 5 “Who’s Crying Now,” which earned the band a prestigious spot opening for the Rolling Stones at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia on September 12th – the same date that ESCAPE hit #1, the band’s first and only appearance at the top of the Billboard pop charts.
Meanwhile, the LP was still inside the top 20 on November 6th, when Journey rolled into Houston and MTV, still finding its way, decided to broadcast the concert. The band’s set list that night included a whopping eight of the ten songs on ESCAPE, accounting for almost half of the program on the Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour CD/DVD. Journey stayed on the road well into 1982, and ESCAPE stayed inside the Top 20 for over a year, buoyed by three more smash hits that stretched into the summer of ’82, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Open Arms,” and “Still They Ride.”
To date the album, which spent nearly three full years on the chart, has sold over 9 million copies in the U.S. alone, Journey’s biggest-selling studio LP. No wonder that, six years later in 1988, the lion’s share of singles on GREATEST HITS (three) belonged to ESCAPE; and a dozen years or so after that in 2001, The Essential Journey featured seven of the ten songs from ESCAPE. This new expanded edition adds two bonus tracks: “La Raza Del Sol” (B-side of “Still They Ride”), and Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour live versions of the three big hits, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “Who’s Crying Now,” and “Open Arms.”
The Journey saga carried on for another five years in the ’80s, with the Frontiers album in 1983 (6x-platinum, with the top 10 “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”); and 1986’s Raised On Radio (double-platinum, with “Be Good To Yourself”). Despite the fact that they swept the annual BAMmies (Bay Area Music Awards) in 1987, a disbanded Journey’s members went their “separate ways,” as a decade of outside projects began.
The following year – 14 years into Journey’s career – Columbia compiled their GREATEST HITS. A catalog phenomenon, it initially reached #10 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, where it stayed for 21 months. When the collection reached the requisite two-year plateau, it shifted over to the Catalog Albums chart, where it resided for over a decade, eventually passing 10-times platinum (RIAA diamond) certification. This new expanded edition adds one bonus track, “When You Love A Woman,”.
The inevitable reunion did not occur until 1996, when Schon, Perry, Cain, Valory, and Smith reconvened on Trial By Fire. The platinum CD contained the final Hot 100 single entry of Journey’s career, “When You Love a Woman.” That song now becomes the one bonus track to bring GREATEST HITS full circle and up-to-date in the original band’s discography.
“Whether on the radio or on some stage,” concluded David Wild’s liner notes for The Essential Journey, “these well-built tunes remain sturdy crowd-pleasers to this very day in their second century of airplay. Some DJ is playing a Journey song some where right now and many more are out there singing along – you can bet on it.”