Thursday, January 5, 2012

Journey - Look Into The Future (1976)

If my interest in Fleetwood Mac is any indication, I seem to have a thing for bands that were - musically - very interesting before they hit the pop charts with new members and a more user-friendly format. Journey became an absolute sensation in the '80s after hiring the crooning balladeer Steve Perry (and I admit, he's got a very soothing, romantic voice), but they were formed in the '70s from members of Santana (back when it was a jam band, before Carlos Santana began pimping his talents out to the pop singers of the day). Guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Rolie from Santana teamed up with drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and gave birth to Journey, which began as an instrument-driven progressive rock band that released three albums before selling out (for better or worse, depending on your opinion) with the addition of Steve Perry to the band.

One thing that strikes me about early Journey, aside from the vastly different sound they had compared to their later pop ballad style, is how epic their music is. They don't piss around building up pleasant melodies, they just barrage you with power and accomplished instrumentation, and aren't afraid to go off on a jam that has little to do with anything related to commercial song structure or anything of the sort. If there's a drawback, it's that their songs aren't catchy in the sense that they have hooks that get you to remember them, and enable you to distinguish them from each other. But in my mind, that's a small cost for such consistently impressive musicianship across the disc, and there's lots of interest to be found hidden within some of these songs - including a portion during I'm Gonna Leave You that sounds eerily similar to an important riff that features in Kansas' Carry On Wayward Son (released in the same year, curiously). Fans of pop-era Journey may not like this, the band's second album, but if you dug the sound on their debut album, I'm certain you'll like Look Into The Future at least as much.

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