Thursday, June 26, 2014

Remembering the organic sound of Journey - 1978 King Biscuit Flower Hour

Every Journey junkie knows this pair of tunes - Feeling That Way and Anytime - classics produced by Roy Thomas Baker on Infinity (1978). When it was released, back in those AOR days, they were played back to back. One or both are usually played on set lists today.

What some may not know is that Journey did several songs from the album, including Feeling That Way and Anytime, on a live-in-studio, audience-free jam on the 1978 King Biscuit Flower Hour -- aka Super Jam II. It was recorded at Automatt Studio in San Francisco. The band collaborated with Tower of Power, the Doobie Brothers' Tom Johnston, and two members of the group Stoneground, Annie Sampson and Jo Baker.

This is a powerhouse show that proves Journey was capable of excelling in a diverse range of genres; the R&B roots are sorely missed today, IMHO.

A great write-up of the entire program is at ConcertVault. What makes this worth a listen is the genuinely organic sound of Journey back then -- unvarnished production, pure musicianship, stellar vocals and harmonies -- no pre-recorded backing vocals -- it's all live. It was edited and readied for broadcast, but due to legal issues it never aired. But today you can find all of the performances from the program on YouTube, which you can listen to here. It's amazing.

A snippet from the ConcertVault write up:
"Despite excellent results, legal entanglements prevented these remarkable SuperJam 2 sessions from being scheduled for broadcast, and with the exception of a cover of "Let the Good Times Roll," none have seen official release. Bootleg copies of the sessions did eventually surface, and they became treasured items among Journey collectors, often accompanied with rumors that the masters had been either lost or destroyed. Now, for the first time ever, the complete "Superjam 2" KBFH sessions are presented here in superb quality. 
...Bookended by two pairs of classic Journey songs when they were just breaking big and featuring various configurations, performing choice cover songs in between, these recordings represent a peak moment in San Francisco's musical history. These recordings also prove that Journey had not only become masters of commercially successful rock music, but was a group equally adept at many styles of music, including R&B and blues, with compelling examples of both included here. 
The sessions begin with a pair of classic rock songs from Journey's breakthrough Infinity album, "Feeling That Way" and "Anytime." The former is a prime example of what Steve Perry brought to the table, featuring a penetrating lead vocal that raises the superb instrumental work of this band to another level. The latter, which features Rolie singing lead, is a solid rocker that also presents Journey in a most positive light. Both of these numbers feature soaring lead guitar work from Schon, but it is keyboardist Rolie's piano work that saves all of the recordings presented here from sounding dated. Nothing more clearly dates late 1970s/early 1980s rock music more than the sound of synthesized keyboards and Rolie wisely avoids using them on these sessions. A talented and tasteful pianist, Rolie's instrumental contributions strongly contribute to the organic feel that make these sessions compelling even decades later."

1 comment:

  1. This was broadcast by King Biscuit Flower Hour as I taped it back in 1978. Somewhere... in a box of tapes, I have this show. I had never heard of Stoneground but had seen an ad for their album in Circus magazine at the time. I have been looking for the highest quality copy I can find of this for OBVIOUS reasons! Thanks for the YouTube links!