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Subject: "Frontiers" Album Review

Mike H.
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Date Posted: 13:58:01 09/09/03 Tue

I’ve heard quite a few people say Journey’s “Escape” album was their best. Rhythmically, it may be, but this album, Frontiers, Journey’s follow-up to “Escape,” showcases Steve Perry at his best vocally. On this album, we have Steve Perry on lead vocal, Neal Schon on background vocal and guitar, Jonathan Cain on piano, guitar and background vocals, Ross Valory on bass guitar and background vocals and Steve Smith on drums.

The first cut, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” written by Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain, is an awesome opener for any Journey album. I love Cain’s catchy keyboard riff in the beginning with Steve Smith’s thunderous backbeat before Perry’s vocal comes in. I think Mr. Perry was at his best vocally from 1982 to 1984, and that’s why this album is one of my favorites. His vocal is a lot more soulful, and not as high-pitched as on previous albums. Neal Schon has a cool guitar solo on this tune. I think it’s his best solo on this album.

The second cut, “Send Her My Love,” written by Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain, has an infectious groove through out the song and breaks away at the bridge before Neal Schon’s solo. That’s what I like best about this tune, the opening groove. Neal’s solo is ok, I love the rhythm, Perry’s vocal is in top form, and Steve Smith’s rim shots on drums adds to the hip backbeat. It’s a nice mid-tempo ballad. The only other tune I like better than the other nine on this album is “Faithfully,” which will be discussed later.

The third cut on this album, “Chain Reaction,” by Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jon Cain, is my least favorite rocker on this album. “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” is the best. I don’t care for the opening and closing rhythm on “Chain Reaction.” I think Steve Smith’s beat is too stiff and Neal’s guitar riff is boring. But, the interlude to the bridge is cool. I like Cain’s keyboard solo. Aside from that keyboard solo before the bridge, Steve Perry’s wail on vocals is the only reason I believe tune even made it on an album. No wonder it wasn’t a hit.

The fourth tune, “After The Fall,” written by Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain is a good mid-tempo rocker. I actually like it better than “Send Her My Love” because Perry really let’s loose with his soulful style and vocal range here. I also like Neal Schon’s guitar riff on the bridge and his solo out.

The fifth tune, “Faithfully,” written by Jonathan Cain, is the number one reason I love this album. No tune in the 3-album history of this line-up matched this one, ballad or rocker, because it has a bit of both in it. Calling it a “power ballad” would be the biggest understatement anyone could ever make. The three elements that made Journey are at their peak form here. Steve Perry is at his best vocally, Neal Schon really cranks out a “killer” solo towards the end, and Jon Cain’s piano intro is strong. I could feel this song, not just hear it. In fact, I couldn’t believe Steve Perry didn’t write this.

The sixth tune, “Edge of The Blade,” Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, is awesome. It exhibits Steve Perry’s and Neal Schon’s best work on this album. I love Neal’s opening rhythm, and Steve Perry “wails” as always. Fabulous!

The seventh tune, “Troubled Child,” by Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jon Cain, is a good mid-tempo rocker. I really like the keyboard rhythm Jon Cain displayed here with Neal Schon’s guitar behind him at the beginning of the tune. Steve Perry was great here as he is throughout this entire album.

The eighth tune, “Back Talk,” written by Steve Perry, Jon Cain and Steve Smith, is the worst tune Journey ever did, much less on this album. Its only saving grace is Smith’s drum intro. I think he was the best drummer the group ever had (Aynsley Dunbar was very fickle on the skins). Neal’s guitar solo seemed all over the place, Jon’s rhythm was mundane, and Perry was screaming, not crooning, like he does best. And Perry “rapping?” I didn’t know he went from the greatest rock star to Hip-Hop’s worst sensation within one album. Terrible!

The ninth tune on this album, the title track, “Frontiers,” written by Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Jon Cain and Steve Smith, was OK. I didn’t like the intro rhythm. I thought it was boring. I did like the bridge and chorus though. Perry did OK on vocals. That’s it.

The tenth and last tune here, “Rubicon,” written by Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jon Cain, is good. Even though I feel Neal was all over the place with his guitar, and Jon Cain had an OK keyboard rhythm going, I think Perry’s vocals were outstanding for a closing piece. It wasn’t the best closer I’d heard on a Journey album, but it wasn’t the worst.

Overall, the first half of this album is good. I understand why hit videos were made out of the first half of this album. The second half? I could leave. “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” was the best rocker, and “Faithfully” was the best ballad. It wasn’t quite as good as “Escape,” although, Perry vocals were top-notch. I just hope Steve Perry resurrects his career and forms his own band because if he does, he’ll surely take them to new “Frontiers.”

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