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

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