Sunday, August 21, 2011

Your blogmistress meets some of her Journey rock stars!

Disclaimer – this is a blogmistress fangirl post; back to regular political programming later…

What a night! I’m on cloud 9. Yes, reliving my teen years while I still can!
Sorry for the lack of Tweets, but many of us had trouble b/c of poor cell connections. But I did REPRESENT, my fellow Plokkers!
The other good news is I have a ton of pix and good video (up later). I was able to get into a Meet & Greet and did in fact meet lead singer Arnel Pineda and Jonathan Cain! But first…
I met Arnel Pineda Rocks administrator Nicole (Coley) — thanks for getting (Kate in so she could take the M&G pix).
We also met Neal’s wife Ava, who was outside the M&G area. We discussed them getting hitched in Paris, as well as our (Canadian) marriage. She and Neal have to get married here in the States for it to be legal. Ours is not legal in NC (it is in the 6 states where SSM is legal). Someday…
It was a thrill to meet Jonathan Cain — the man responsible for penning many of the hits most of you know, including Don’t Stop Believing. He was mellow, kind and thoughtful.
And yes, Arnel is as wonderful as can be. I brought him a Durham Bulls baseball shirt. The Bulls and my town were featured in the movie Bull Durham, and wanted for him to have something local to remember us by:
He also signed my photobook of shots from the Vegas concert! He didn’t have to take the time (they said no autographs at the M&G) but he did.
Journey founder and guitar god Neal Schon and powerhouse drummer Deen were not at this Meet & Greet (or I missed them); bassist Ross Valory was there but occupied so I didn’t get a pic with him. Darn! Guess this means I have to try again!
But Neal did get a surprise during the concert when I held up this poster (we were in the 6th row, just far enough to miss getting a high five, but when you see the pix you’ll see just how close we were. Neal saw the poster, squinted and read it, then gave a big smile to us! Here’s what the poster said:
I flashed my “Plokker’s Ride” and “Eclipse Rocks” posters during the concert and AP pointed it out, and made eye contact and smiled several times during songs, most prominently during DSB; the guy in front of me turned around and said “he’s singing to you!” and gave me a fist bump…
Makes me want to go to another concert soon! Plokkers ride!
Here are some pix from my album
Deeno sitting in to play skins for Night Ranger during Sister Christian:
Jon doing a hot jam:
Neal rocking the house:
Arnel was working hard in some serious humidity. We were all soaked.
The last bow…
More commentary on the concert later. Just wanted to get this up…now off to b-e-d!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Eclipse tour hits Raleigh 8/20 + a look at Journey then and now

Right: Has she lost her mind? Your blogmistress with her limited edition Italian 2-LP gatefold album release of Eclipse, (still in the shrink wrap)!

It’s a Friday post – and naturally it comes with the usual disclaimer – if this doesn’t interest you, there is plenty to read below – or you can take a gander at my updates on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

The Raleigh Journey concert is on August 20 (next Saturday) and your blogmistress is getting stoked.
While many fans of the 80s iteration of Journey know about vocalist Steve Perry and his tenure, they forget about Robert Fleischman and Gregg Rolie, their considerable — and quite different — vocal talents to the band.
Along with Neal Schon, Rolie was a founding member of the band, handling keyboards, harmonica, as well as vocals (1973–1980). Schon is the only original member that has been Journey from the beginning up to the present day. Bassist Ross Valory had a break in tenure (1973–1985, 1995–present), and during the late 80s, various session musicians played — including future American Idol judge Randy Jackson.
The following video includes the Journey lineup with both Rolie and Perry onboard, with Aynsley Dunbar on the drums (he was soon replaced with Steve Smith, who was with Journey during its heyday – 1978–1985, 1995–1998); the massively talented Deen Castronovo has been on the skins since ’98).
This is from 1978, during a TV appearance on Midnight Special. (Rolie’s smoky voice may be familiar to you – he was vocalist on “Black Magic Woman” with Santana.) He and SP (with his amazing countertenor — and the man could sing the blues!) sound great together on this classic two-for-one:
Journey: Feeling That Way / Anytime (Rolie, Perry vocals)
Those two songs are chestnuts from the Journey catalog; hardcore fans like yours truly love to see these revived live; more casual fans of the band are there to hear “the dirty dozen” as the band calls them — the songs most of you know – Open Arms, Separate Ways, Faithfully, etc.
Occasionally the way-back classics are performed live as a surprise — including one concert in Houston where Gregg Rolie actually came on stage to do the above with current lead man Arnel Pineda. What a treat that had to have been to witness.

While in the AP chat room the other night (transcript here, thanks Sachiko!), webspinner/admin Fabb posted this same pairing of songs with Arnel helming the Steve Perry vocal and keyboardist Jonathan Cain the Rolie vocal. And guess what? The song still shines, and it was a spectacular performance (2008).
The video and much more below the fold.

Journey: Feeling That Way / Anytime (Cain, Pineda vocals)
I asked AP in the chat room if they could do this in Raleigh and he replied, “I’ll have to ask the boys…” :) Wouldn’t that be an awesome blogmistress treat if they did it?
I think it’s taken time, but Arnel has won over most of the critics with the release of Eclipse, since the music is quite different – straight up rock on most tracks, or going the other direction, acoustic songs, that highlight his tenor and own style.

What’s kind of odd to me is that there are Journey fans who find the meatier rock of Eclipse as a radical shift. If you listen to Journey’s early work, it’s more 70s prog rock w/hint of blues than anything else, an offshoot of Santana (even a little like Chicago to me on some stuff). It sure doesn’t sound like Don’t Stop Believing. In fact, Steve Perry’s voice evolves over the period with the band, losing more of his top range over the years — he had little-to-none of that familiar rasp in the early days, when he could hit glass-shattering high notes, and by 1996 his rasp was more pronounced, with much more rich deeper tones. Some seem to miss this, but the YouTube record’s there for all to hear.
That aside, the musical evolution of the band, given the various lineups and influences only makes Journey more interesting to me. One constant is that the harmonies and songwriting, paired with Neal’s axe, make it great melodic rock. I love all of it. I don’t have to choose one flavor. My musical tastes are way too eclectic for that.
Most people tend to favor the period of music you grew up with anyway, and a large demographic blip happened to coincide with the

late 70s-80s period of the band. There’s no denying the cultural impact of the Schon/Perry/Cain songwriting during that period. I don’t have a problem with people who love the tone, nuance and delivery of Steve Perry (I love him too!), but that poses a dilemma – he’s retired, and the rest of the band is still in demand to perform that back catalog.

Thus you want someone who sounds enough like Steve Perry to do justice to the tracks laid decades ago, yet this poor chap following in his shoes has to be able to stand on his own two feet to forge in whatever new direction the band embarks upon. And eventually they lucked out with Arnel Pineda (I covered the Augeri/Jeff Scott Soto period in an earlier post), a tenor with a set of pipes that is unreal.
Honestly, I don’t know how Journey can fit enough songs in a setlist to satisfy everyone – particularly on a triple bill with Foreigner and Night Ranger on this tour. Since they are selling out all over, I’m pretty sure they could carry a tour by themselves, but I don’t roll the business dice.

* Blogmistress music overload: my Journey immersion weekend

* Blogmistress heaven: five new songs from ‘Eclipse’ debut in throw-down set by Journey in Vegas

* Journey’s new CD, Eclipse: a group revitalized, energized and rocking hard

* The blogmistress trip to NY to see Journey on The Today Show

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Journey's new CD, Eclipse: a group revitalized, energized and rocking hard

The usual disclaimer: this is a break from political banter, so if this Journey post doesn’t interest you, there’s the regular brew of new content on the Blend to consume…Also, for the “No Perry, No Journey” crowd – let it go. This is not the place to stir up that argument.

As a long-time Journey fan, I knew from the grapevine that Eclipse was going to be a surprise for those aficionados (old and new) that were expecting pop-rock classic hits churned out by the band.
This album rocks. And the reviews have been some of the best in the band’s career, as band founder Neal Schon decided to take the band in a muscular, guitar-driven direction that is audacious for a legacy or “classic” rock band with a reputation as an 80s hit machine. There is no coasting. You can stream it here. There are also clips at Amazon.
I was one of the fortunate fans to see Journey debut five of the new tunes from Eclipse in Las Vegas in FebruaryEdge of Emotion, Resonate, City of Hope, Chain of Love, and Human Feel, so that preview only heightened my anticipation as I waited for the CD I had pre-ordered to arrive. (BTW, all of the photos here I took at that amazing Vegas concert).
In concert, lead singer Arnel Pineda and his mind-blowing rock pipes has had to prove himself to many skeptical fans who still carry a torch for legendary Steve Perry. It didn’t help that an entire CD of the last album, Revelation, contained re-recordings of many of the Journey classics, an arrangement dictated by Wal-Mart, which distributed the CD. That means that Journey, for all intents and purposes, is an indy band in the U.S. — not beholden to any record company, but sans that distribution network, thus the relationship with the ubiquitous Wally World.
The fresh material on Revelation was clearly meant to evoke memories of the band in its classic period – heavy on Jon Cain’s keyboards, mostly synthesizers, and guitar legend and band founder Neal Schon slipping in his hooks and solos. Vocally, there were glimpses into Arnel Pineda’s own delivery and voice, but in hindsight this was a training wheels album for him; Eclipse is all Arnel — there’s no ghost of Steve Perry anywhere on this album. And he shines; the versatility of his delivery, his range, and notably, his power, is on full display here. It’s clear that Schon and Cain (the principal songwriters on Eclipse), have found another vocal muse again; they have been inspired to weave tunes to test the boundaries of Pineda’s pipes. And oh they do.
There are no compromises for 3 minute tunes. Aside from an instrumental that closes Eclipse, each song clocks in at over 4 minutes, and many over 6. That said, there are definitely songs primed for airplay and can easily be trimmed for a radio edit.
Before I move on to a track-by-track review, I have to note that the production on Eclipse is amazing; the textures of multiple layers of guitars, percussion and vocals are masterfully mixed, with subtleties, backward loops, feedback, delicious sounds to stimulate your ears for the sonic wails to come. It’s a world away from the sorry compressed production on Revelation; its songs deserved better treatment to show off the musicianship.
Eclipse is a work of musical craftsmen at their peak – and it’s good to see them peak again. It’s a delight in that its new @ss-kicking, complex songs translate well live, and provide a different, equally pleasing listening-with-headphones-on experience on CD. Oh, and blasting it in your car is highly advised.
The tracks, all by Cain/Schon except where noted:
1. City Of Hope (6:02)

2. Edge Of The Moment (5:27)

3. Chain Of Love (6:10)

4. Tantra (6:27)

5. Anything Is Possible (5:21)

6. Resonate (5:11)

7. She’s A Mystery (6:41) (Schon, Cain, Arnel Pineda)

8. Human Feel (6:44)

9. Ritual (4:57)

10. To Whom It May Concern (5:15) (A. Pineda, Schon, Cain, Erik Pineda)

11. Someone (4:35)

12. Venus (3:34)
Produced by Kevin Shirley, Neal Schon, and Jonathan Cain

Recorded by Kevin Shirley and David Kalmusky

Mixed and mastered by David Kalmusky
The Band
Neal Schon – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals

Jonathan Cain – keyboards, rhythm guitars, backing vocals

Ross Valory – bass, backing vocals

Deen Castronovo – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Arnel Pineda – lead & backing vocals
1. City Of Hope (*****): Now this is the way to reintroduce the public to Journey. Created as an ode to Pineda’s home city of Manila, where the band made a stop on its 2009 tour, it’s the best of both worlds – an instant concert anthem with positivity at its core, and the debut of Schon’s vision of Eclipse as a guitar-driven album. Ross Valory provides a pumping bassline as well. And this is still melodic rock – the chorus is infectious:
There’s a city of hope beyond our fears,

Where miracles happen,

Where truth can be heard,

Don’t you wanna go to the city of hope
Arnel’s vocals soar with an energy that pervades the entire album. This screams to be a single. Fans do get a taste of the guitar shredding to come at the end of COH, and its intensity only foreshadows what’s to come in the next track…

2. Edge Of The Moment (*****). Heavy guitar, slamming bass, insistent drums, dark synths, this song oozes a bold, raw sexuality I’ve not heard from the J-Boys in long time. Arnel even shudders a hot Anticipating…uhhhh… right to let you know just how intense his passion is.
With your sweet love I lose all track of time,

‘Til I don’t know if it’s day or night.

Before it all fades into the past,

Wanna see how long we can make it last.

Come a little closer,

Into my arms.
Again, the pumping rhythm is melodic, dark, but draws you completely in. And, oh man, I was seriously enjoying Neal’s use of wah-wah pedal (!) You wonder if the intensity of this one-two punch of City of Hope and Edge will continue…
3. Chain Of Love (****): It starts out with soft sounds back in the mix and the welcome piano of Jonathan Cain. The plaintive, pure tones of Arnel Pineda’s opening salvo is served up and then replaced by the introduction of heavy, rhythm guitars and slamming skins by Deen Castronovo that encourages some serious headbanging.
Pathways in my mind that lead to nowhere

Promises of happiness that leave me wanting more

When my desire becomes a nightmare

Feel paranoia about what I’m wishing for.

If I could just let go of who I think I am

Surrender to the silence, help me understand
This is the darkest song yet, but you’re kept in check with the melodic chord progressions as the intensity of the beats continue. This one really tests Arnel’s pipes; he delivers flawlessly.
More below the fold.4. Tantra (**1/2): Based on the number of plokkers (fans on the AP Rocks fan site) who love this song, my grade here is not going to be popular, but it is what it is. The momentum created by the first three songs on Eclipse is completely halted by this ballad. Not that the Journey ballad is unimpressive. Arnel Pineda puts his heart and soul into Tantra, but my first thought when I heard the song was “this belongs in a Disney animated movie a la The Lion King or some such.”
Old beliefs let us down, many roads lead to heaven.

One love, many faiths all share the world in search of grace.

Across the universe, the same force that moves the earth’s

In my heart, makes me whole, wash my doubt and fear away.
You know, a grand, sweeping majestic song about the universe and our place in it. AP’s vocals are so exquisite, almost too exquisite. I tell you what – it’s proof that he’d kick ass on the Broadway stage belting out difficult songs.
But for me, Tantra doesn’t belong on Eclipse.
5. Anything Is Possible (*****): Sheer perfection. This track returns to a more classic Journey sound – love hearing the piano Jon. Anything is Possible reminds you how Journey can hit the sweet spot with chord progression, melody, harmony — and Neal Schon goes right back into hitmaster guitar solo mode effortlessly.
Try to break my brick, throw away the stone

Take a chance on something, build a castle you call home.

Live for the moment, you can’t put into words.

Don’t keep a song inside, let your voice be heard
And drum monster Deen Castronovo, who gets to let loose on the hard rock songs on Eclipse shows he can ratchet his power skins down to do straight pop-rock on command. AIP deserves to be a hit.
6. Resonate (*****): What can I say? This is the best produced track on the album. In concert this is a slamming, pumping song that the audience instantly got into in Vegas, but on CD the subtleties and choices that the band makes in painting an aural picture for the listener are stunning. Again, Ross Valory’s bassline is up front in the mix, giving the song an instant sensuality; the mix of harmonic backing vocals slide into Arnel’s lead vocals as he weaves the lyrics around the music.
Feel your presence all around me

On the same frequency

It’s all our love can be when we

Resonate… Resonate
A darker sound indeed, but it could easily be a hit for ears in need of relief from the autotuned pop pablum out there now.

7. She’s A Mystery (*****): Now this kind of change of pace, unlike Tantra, is a satisfying, surprising confection. One of the two songs contributed by Arnel Pineda, it evokes the singer/songwriter songs of the ’70s — the crystal clear acoustic guitar, sweet harmonies of the backing vocals. The lyrics are equally sweet (and there’s a reason for that, as the mystery unfolds.
(Chorus): Tattooed on a sacred place, she’s a mystery (she’s mine)

Wondering if she loves me; she’s a mystery (so fine) She’s a sweet


(Verse): She’s my zen, my own, my only Shangri-la

She’s my French champagne, she’s my ooh la la
As you wait for the bridge, the guitar strums along, with swirling synthesizers ushering a change of tempo…and then in a complete, unexpected shift, Neal explodes in with a shredding guitar, opening that Pandora’s Box mystery of a woman…Arnel switches to hard rock mode vocals that just blow you out of the water. Incredible.
8. Human Feel (****): This is an ambitious song – and a showcase for Deen Castronovo, who drives this song with a syncopation that is tribal and unusual. And the Hammond organ — thank you god, for its return on Eclipse!. (An aside – when the band introduced this song in Vegas, I was in the third row and what was hilarious is that the people in two front rows were completely flabbergasted by the rhythm – they didn’t know how to dance to it.)
Deen’s drumming and Arnel’s vocals reach an almost excruciating, insistent four verses before going to the chorus, the lyrics reflecting equal frustration — with technology:
In a jungle of hardware and mass frustration,

Overloaded with way too much information these days.

I’m needing more than the virtual world I’m seeing.

Could someone just let me talk to a live human being?
The release of the chorus is accompanied by a change to a familiar tempo/beat that drives to the chorus and then returns to the pumping tribal rhythm and Neal’s hot licks.
9. Ritual (***): This is another throwback to the classic Journey hit sound, but doesn’t satisfy on the same level as Anything Is Possible, but it’s serviceable filler. Arnel’s vocal delivery is one of the strongest on the album – he takes on long and difficult notes here, but the song’s just a tad too formulaic.
10. To Whom It May Concern (****): The other song contributed by Arnel Pineda (and his brother Erik). This is a sweeping song sprinklied with spiritual references. The guitar and synth melody line are engaging (so much so that the coda is recalled in the last track, Venus). Arnel Pineda’s earnest delivery is what keeps the song from drifting too far into overly sentimental territory.
I think this is one of the key talents Arnel has brought to the table on Eclipse – his interpretation of the lyrics throughout Eclipse is one of the reasons you want to listen to the songs over and over to see how both he and the rest of the JBoys forge new ground on their own terms.
11. Someone (***1/2): A last return to classic Journey pop on Eclipse. It’s another “think positive” love song with traditional verse/chorus/verse/Neal solo structure, but it’s a more pleasing use of the formula than Ritual.
Once you let someone love you

You’ll find out an open door

A place in your heart you’ve never been before

Believe it’s never too late

For someone to set you free

Once you let someone love you
What this sets the listener up for is a reprise of the melody from To Whom It May Concern with the last track…
12. Venus (***) An instrumental that is short enough to be enjoyable as you hear Neal’s artistic noodling on the guitar, making it wail, scream and weave throughout the melody. It’s a nice endcap to Eclipse.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pick yourself up after the knockout: queue up Journey for the blogmistress

Yes, the usual disclaimer – Blenders who aren’t Journey fans, scroll on to non-Journey content below. That also goes for the “No Perry, No Journey” crowd. I like them both. Humor me or face the trap door. ;)

From an earlier Tweet:
@Pam_Spaulding Screwed. I just signed papers that put #PHB into the $ abyss. Can’t talk about it yet, but many of you know why.
So I’m cheering myself (or trying to) up by listening to ‘City of Hope’ – from Journey’s new album, Eclipse, drops May 27. The song is inspired by the band’s visit to Manila (lead singer Arnel Pineda’s home city) in 2009. City of Hope is the first single released in the U.S.
The band has been south of the border in March and April, packing them in at stops in Santiago, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Lima and Caracas. Most Blenders know that in February I trekked out to Vegas for one of the two “warm up” concerts in the States (the other was in Reno that same weekend). It was a sell-out crowd and we were treated to five of the new songs from Eclipse – Edge of the Moment, Resonate, City of Hope, Chain of Love, and Human Feel. As I said in my concert review, my picks for most radio-friendly  – if it gets played by DJs — are City of Hope and Resonate.

For audiophiles, Eclipse is not your “Open Arms” Journey, btw.

Not that I don’t love “Open Arms” — it’s like a warm fuzzy blanket ballad you rely on. And you want to hear it in concert — and you do (and you can always pop in a classic Journey album to hear the magnificent Steve Perry). But I don’t think we’ll hear anything like that on Eclipse. And it certainly isn’t Revelation, the last CD (the first with Arnel Pineda), either. Why? Based on the five songs introduced at the concert (and the above video), this is flat-out rock, darker, but still melodic album, with heavy emphasis on Neal Schon’s guitar licks. It has punching up-front-in-the-mix drums courtesy of Deen Castronovo, rhythm of Ross Valory on bass and less emphasis on Jon Cain’s keyboards as the prime mover. Arnel, my friends,  is at the top of his game.

And unlike Revelation, the production is so much cleaner and crisper. I can’t even begin to describe how sharp this production is by comparison, none of the muddiness that marred last album, which was so oddly mixed that some of the instrumentation sounds like it’s under water. And that’s from someone who loves the songs/songwriting on Revelations; it’s perpetually loaded in my car. But the production left much to be desired.

Listening to City of Hope several times on headphones is a welcome opportunity to hear each of the J-Boys work the song and the groove. I hope it gets a chance on radio. It’s surely of much more value than Auto-Tune crap on top of the charts (Bieber…Bieber…)

That is all for now; more about the royal abyss and the bloodsuckers in due time. More pleasant thoughts (and sounds) for me…

From February’s concert in Vegas; with some of my fellow J-Boys fans.

Journey tours in 2011-2012

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blogmistress heaven: five new songs from 'Eclipse' debut in throw-down set by Journey in Vegas

The usual disclaimer: it’s an unusual break from political banter, so if this off-theme Journey post doesn’t interest you, there’s the regular brew of new content on the Blend to consume…

Let’s just say that I’ll be right up front when Journey comes to North Carolina in August (and go to a couple of other cities).

The concert was THAT good. Of course most fans would say that, but the energy Journey has playing live has always far surpassed its studio output, and this is absolutely the case. This was my first in-person concert, though I’ve been a fan since the late 70s. Sitting in a third row seat with a fellow friend who flew 24 hours from Japan to see this show at Planet Hollywood – Las Vegas, it was almost beyond belief to be that close to the band. And she’s seen Journey 20 times, the majority of the concents with legendary frontman Steve Perry. Sachi said she was blown away last night by Arnel’s performance.

As you can see by the photos (and I ended up with over 300+ fantastic shots), it was an incredible view. All of the guys in the band looked fit and road-ready; it’s going to be a looong tour into next year. There’s nothing like being able to make eye contact with Arnel Pineda, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain and Ross Valory (sorry to say, I wish it were possible with drummer Deen Castronovo, who is a complete monster on the skins and has an angelic voice) while they jam to five completely new tunes that they debuted from the forthcoming “Eclipse” CD; it drops on May 24. (NOTE: See the setlist – and video of the five new songs – below the fold.)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On my way to Vegas to see Journey kick off its 'Eclipse' tour

As I’m typing this I am onboard the second leg of my flight from RDU-ATL-LAS, around 12AM ET. I was so angered by the filing of the marriage amendment bill in NC on Tuesday that Ms. Cheepy Blogmistress paid the $4.95 for air wireless to file my post on it. So I’ll get my money’s worth and get a head start on this much more pleasant topic.

Your blogmistress is traveling to Las Vegas to see her favorite band, Journey, in concert at Planet Hollywood on Wednesday Feb. 23. (Naysayers can move along to the next post lest you be assimilated!) I’ve been a long-time fan, though unbelievably, this will be the first concert I’ve attended. I spent the 80s too poor, the 90s too busy working hard, and, well, most of the 2000s either doing too much day job and community work/volunteering, or, since 2004 political blogging. Heck, I didn’t even know current lead singer Arnel Pineda joined the band in 2008; I was too busy covering the presidential campaign!
I think the wake up call to do this — a bucket list item — was the creeping physical ailments over the last couple of years. The fibromyalgia and nearly disabling chronic and unpredictable pain, the neuropathy in my feet, and in November, the hysterectomy and slow recovery that I’m still going through were all red flags.
I said to myself, “Dammit, I better do this before I’m incapable of going to a concert and enjoying the experience!”
So I saved some scratch, got my director to ok the trip, and paid way more than I should have to get a third row, gold circle ticket to the kickoff show.  Kate couldn’t make this trip, but since a little birdie told me that Journey will play in two NC cities this summer, she’ll eventually get a chance to see them.
The J-Boys will play three songs from the new album “Eclipse“, which won’t be released until May 24th, so it will be a real treat to hear a taste of the new CD.

UPDATE: I met a fellow Journey fan, Sachi, who flew all the way from Japan for the concert. She greeted me in the Planet Hollywood lobby.
It’s also been my lucky night – upgrade to Biz class on flt, now room upgrade at PH to kick-ass view of Paris Las Vegas & the Bellagio fountains!

More below the fold.Axe man and J-founder Neal Schon says:
“It sounds amazing. I’m in love with the record, which I haven’t said for a long time,” he said. “I really fought for this record to be the way it is. It’s a rock record. It’s built for the places we’re about to play. We’re playing a lot of big shows – South America and Europe – and we’re going to be touring the whole world on and off for two years. So with the addition of Arnel, we’ve become more of an international band which has been really great.”
As was the case with the highly successful “Revelation” album, the 12-track “Eclipse” will be a Wal-Mart-only release in North America. This worked out well for Journey, which is, in fact, now an indy band (classic AOR bands aren’t on the big labels anymore — thank the autotune gen for that — so you have to find a good distribution chain; and regardless, it’s hard to beat the ubiquitous Wally World on that score).
The man behind some of the bands greatest hits to date, keyboardist and composer Jonathan Cain, gave this description of “Eclipse” to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Cain describes it as “a concept record with some spiritual themes to it. Pretty tough, hard-hitting stuff. This is Journey with big combat boots on. And helmet and a rifle.”
Cain’s lyrics sustain the band’s hopeful themes of “searching for soulfulness and enlightenment and love and all the stuff that Journey’s about.” But the album also has a larger dynamic sweep with “some darker stuff in there.”
“We just felt like it was time to send a message to the world about how we feel about life in general,” he says.
The album incorporates Hindu principles of Tantra, “the belief that life is kind of a weave, a circle of energy, a life force that’s woven with the universe in all of us. We dove deep into it.”
He calls it “one of those headphone records.” Should be interesting to hear that. (BTW, my wife Kate is an audiologist, so she reminded me to take earplugs to protect my hearing, lol). I can’t wait to rock out to Deen Castronovo – man he’s awesome on the skins, and has a wonderful voice to boot.
Blenders might recall my post from last year, “Blogmistress music overload: my Journey immersion weekend,” where I took out some time to reconnect with the music, old and new, and delved into th inspiring backstory behind Arnel Pineda’s discovery via YouTube by Neal Schon, and his rise from the streets of Manila to become an international rock star. With an enormous amount of pressure on him, he has flourished with the band with his nearly supernaturally powerful pipes and stage presence.
I won’t go back over the issue of how poorly some Journey fans have handled the comparison between Steve Perry (love him too!), and Arnel Pineda; you can read that in my earlier post, but it’s safe to say that the whole post-racial society claptrap is there in full embarrassing bloom. And I thought it was about the music.
But it is and that’s why I’m heading to Vegas. To see Journey.
I don’t see why people have to take sides –
1. Steve Perry isn’t coming back to Journey, and if even he did, it’s with 62-year-old pipes. He’s only human. Get over the fantasy, people and pop in an old CD and enjoy the classics.
2. If you want to hear Journey live, and the band is much better and rocks harder live than in studio takes, then go see them on the road and judge for yourself (or just stay away if you cannot bear any other frontman except SP).
3. If SP releases the new material he says he has ready to record, then enjoy it; I certainly will, but don’t expect it to sound like 1980s Journey.
With Eclipse this will be the second record with all new material recorded with Arnel Pineda. How hard is it for people to let go and just enjoy the Journey sound?
And I thought the rough and tumble of politics was nuts…
One of the wonderful things I can say about Arnel Pineda is he’s genuinely grateful to his fans for their support and pops into the site’s chat room to gab with the plokkers (the faithful fans over at his web site; I am a member).
If you’re ever in the Philippines, his bar, Rockville, is loaded with fan-contributed and designed nameplates, art and contributed vinyl records. Bands compete in contests that showcase Filipino talent and the concerts are streamed; Arnel, prior to returning to the States for the tour, made frequent appearances at Rockville. He also believes in giving back to those who struggle as he once did, through the Arnel Pineda Foundation, Inc. (APFI) for street kids.
There will be a documentary released about Arnel’s story, “Everyman’s Journey.”