Journey- "The First Three Albums" (Reviews)




“JOURNEY” (1975):

“This is where it all started”
By A. Customer
March 5, 2002

When I was still learning about Journey, I never knew there was any music from the band prior to Steve Perry until I bought the Journey “Time 3” box set. In it, I found pieces of early Journey when Gregg Rolie was the lead singer and I was instantly captivated. I knew I had to check Journey’s roots out, and “Journey” is one of the first CD’s I ever owned. My dad bought it for me when I got my first CD player.

Journey’s self-titled debut is an amazing album. It is a perfect example of classic fusion rock craftsmanship, and is delivered with a unique variety of twists and sounds. Neal Schon’s guitar is so energizing and full of power. He is truly magnificent, bringing forth an intense, screeching, melodic down-pour of solid rock perfection through his strings to vibrate through your ears and echo throughout your body. Then you have the relentless, thunderous drums of Aynsley Dunbar, thick with jamming effects that work flawlessly with Schon’s guitar to throw you a rock ‘n roll hammering punch like none other. Dunbar never ceases to make you want to bang your head. Gregg Rolie’s vocals are magnificent, intense, and soulful. He is one of the best keyboardists around, and his catchy melodies gel so well with Schon’s guitar, Dunbar’s drums, and of course, the powerful bass of Ross Valory, and the spectacular rhythm guitaring of George Tickner.

The album begins with one of my all-time favorite early Journey songs, “Of A Lifetime.” Check out the sizzling and smoking guitar work from Schon, and the jamming drum thumps from Dunbar. Within this feel-good song comes Rolie’s soft, free-flowing lyrics. Ross Valory’s thick, loud bass will give your ears a ride. This is definitely a party-like song, in which true fusion rock talent is shown. They were definitely having a good time with this one.

“In The Morning Day” has always been one of my favorites, because I love the melodic chords from guitarist Schon and keyboardist Gregg Rolie. Like with “Of A Lifetime,” the song starts out smooth and flowing with Gregg’s soft lyrics, before an eruption of guitars, keyboards, and drums.

“Kahoutek” is an instrumental jammer. The main melody repeats over and over behind Neal Schon’s screeching guitar and Gregg Rolie’s swirling keyboards. Schon and Rolie seem to be taking turns showing off their talent and feeding off one another in the song which makes it very unique. Schon, Rolie, Valory, Tickner and Dunbar are fantastic here, even though it’s not one of my favorite songs.

“To Play Some Music” probably has the most lyrics of all the songs. Rolie is a pretty good singer, and it’s just a fun rock song simply about enjoying playing music and bringing joy to people in the process.

“Topaz” is another instrumental jammer and one of my very favorites. Again, the song starts very quiet with some soft Neal Schon chords and Rolie keyboard notes. Then Dunbar eases in with the drumming until the song gets quicker and quicker and then erupts in a groovy rock masterpiece of catchy guitar hooks and chords and drum beats. This song perks me up every time I listen to it.

Journey tones it down a bit with “In My Lonely Feeling (Conversations).” It is probably my least favorite song on the album. It has kind of a ho-hum , blue kind of feel to it. But at the end, the song starts jamming again. Rolie does a nice job with vocals. In virtually every album I hear, there is one song that I can’t find a lot to say about. This one is one of them.

The album finishes with my favorite on the album, “Mystery Mountain.” It is a rocking, free-flowing song that gives you a laid-back feel. I love Rolie’s keyboards in this song, and Valory’s bass really adds to the overall atmosphere of this piece. Of course Schon does his usual flawless guitar work. Rolie provides some atmospheric lyrics as well.

“Journey” is a complete, classic rock-jamming package that started the “Journey” of Journey. While the style is far from the kind of music they performed in the late 70’s and through the 80’s with Steve Perry, as well as the current style with Steve Augeri, it is still an album that is a must for all die-hard rock fans. This is pure rock that will give you a fine dose of ear-candy. These are definitive examples of Journey’s best early work!! Don’t pass this album up!!
“Super Album”
By Roger Walker
(Morrisville, PA USA)
January 9, 2001

This review is from: Journey (Audio CD)
I bought the cassette tape of this album years ago, and admittedly was taken aback initially by it; but listening to it now, I am really blown away by it. Picture if you will Rush Meets Pink Floyd: somewhat cosmic lyrics with fantastic instrumental interplay. Listening to organist Gregg Rolie singing, you have to wonder, “Hey, no offense to Steve Perry, but why did they replace this guy?” He had (at least on this debut album) a fantastic voice; and of course his playing on the organ, piano, and synthesizer are a delight as well. Then again, there’s the super percussion work of drummer Aynsley Dunbar, and the great unsung hero of the bass guitar Ross Valory. But the most amazing instrumentalist of the original quintet (yes, there was a fifth member, rhythm guitarist George Tickner, who also co-wrote much of Journey’s early works; but you can’t really get an idea of how good a guitarist the guy was, unfortunately) is without a doubt lead guitarist Neal Schon. You have GOT to hear this album to know what I mean! Yeah, you heard the guy blaze on a lot of Journey and Bad English songs; but he just kicks tail throughout this recording! And, best of all, these five guys played TOGETHER – Schon was egged on in his playing by the interplay of the other guys, and the results are just fantastic. In particular, I recommend “Of A Lifetime,” “In My Lonely Feeling,” and “Mystery Mountain.”

“Impressive new turn for Journey”
By A Customer
March 8, 2002

I first caught wind of Journey’s pre-Steve Perry days after buying the “Time 3” box set, and I rushed to grab up Journey’s “root” albums: their debut “Journey,” this album and their third album, “Next.”

I had to special order “Look Into The Future” a few years ago, and it was well worth the wait! “Look Into The Future” is a great album in which Journey re-captures their melodic, progressive, fusion, hard rocking flavor they exhibited in their first album, “Journey.” This time around, the group presents us with a lot more vocals headed by Gregg Rolie. Rolie does a fine job as usual, driving out his intense, soulful voice out amongst Neal Schon’s power-charged guitar, Ross Valory’s flawless bass, and Aynsley Dunbar’s pounding, energized drums. Virtually every song is a polished work of art, with catchy, rhythmical performances. As with the first album, “Look Into The Future” presents us with plenty of unique twists and a variety of different sounds and jamming, shuffling beats.
Check out the bluesy groove of the opening track “On A Saturday Nite.” Schon and Dunbar do a great job here, and the song is a lot of fun. Check out Rolie’s way groovy piano/keyboard intro. In speaking of fun, you’re sure to enjoy the fun rock of the following track, “It’s All Too Much.” I believe this was originally a Beatles tune, or perhaps done by one of the Beatles. Journey does an excellent cover of this song; Journey-style of course. It’s such a powerfully charged song, courtesy of Schon’s sizzling guitar and Valory’s intese base guitar. The song really jams. But then we’re shifted back to the blues with “Anyway.” Rolie’s vocals are charged and demanding and Schon’s guitar has a free-flowing edginess that makes the song great.
Journey decides to get rough, rugged and rowdy with “She Makes Me (Feel Alright),” and down and dirty rock song crafted to Journey perfection on the wings of Rolie’s energetic vocals, Dunbar’s harsh, shuffling beats, and Schon’s smoking guitar. And if you want more edgy and rowdy rock fun, than set your CD player to track #7, “Midnight Dreamer.” The song is in the exact same ballpark as “She Makes Me (Feel Alright),” and the exact same works of musicianship by Schon, Rolie, Dunbar and Valory can be heard here.

Not only is Gregg Rolie a great classic rock vocalist, but he is also an excellent keyboardist. The intense “You’re On Your Own,” starts out with some melodic but urgent sounding Rolie keybaords and they continue throughout the song. Rolie’s keyboards and Schon’s guitar work so well together here, and Valory’s bass is heard loud and clear.
The next song is my favorite; the free-flowing, progressive, melodic “Look Into The Future.” Rolie’s voice is soulful, free-flowing and smooth as are Schon’s soft guitar chords. Again, Rolie’s thick keyboard swirls and Valory’s base bring the whole package home. This song is almost atmospheric and takes you on a mind “Journey.” The song is unique in that it is soft, contrasted by loud and more rowdy toward the end.

The album ends with a bluesy but rugged number in “I’m Gonna Leave You.” Again, Schon’s powerful guitar is clearly exhibited here as is Rolie’s edgy voice. It fits with the two other rough rock songs I mentioned previously. Dunbar’s drum beats are a jamming good time.

Journey is entertainment galore with the variety and exquisit musicianship they present on this album. You want fun? It’s here. You want edgy? It’s here. You want smooth? It’s here. You want blues? It’s here. This is overall a superb early Journey album, and one to not pass up!!
By Steve DeMellman
(Phoenix, Az USA)
December 29, 2007

First of all, the only Journey albums I like (and own) are the first four. Yeah, I know Infinity has Perry on vocals, but its a very musical album and I have to admit it grabs me. That said, for the pure joy of listening to beautiful musicianship, the first album is my favorite. Rolie’s vocals are easier to take (and certainly less pervasive than Perry’s) and the rhythm section is as solid as they come. Schon and Rolie’s melodic virtuosity takes the music soaring (like the album cover) while Dunbar fills in all the gaps with his exceptional drumming. On the first album, Kahoutek is a great example of the talent and energy of this band—-that number really cooks. A lot of critics deride progressive rock/fusion as being pretentious and self-indulgent. Actually, I see it as talented musicians exploring their creative urges and striving to reach their potential as artists. For those who prefer to keep rock dumb, there are plenty of three-chord posers out there doing the same-old same-old…..That said,this album, the second from Journey, called Look Into the Future, features the same pre-Perry line-up as the debut release. Greg Rolie sings a little more than on the first album but there is still plenty of tight, tasteful playing without the human voice attached. The title track is a standout. So is the jazzy direction taken in the second part of Midnight Dreamer. Journey fans who are not aware of the pre-Perry period are really missing out on how cohesive these guys sounded.
“NEXT” (1977)

“Starting to lose it here? Not”!!!
By B. E Jackson (Pennsylvania)
January 17, 2009
Updated January 23, 2011-

I’m sorry for originally slamming this album. Actually “slamming” is an exaggeration- more like expressing minor disappointment. However now that I own a copy for myself -and not to mention, a freshly remastered version with superior and louder, cleaner sound quality- I can now approach it in a new light. I now *can* differentiate much of the guitar playing, and I really like what I’m hearing.
The album can best be described like this- the first half is the space rock journey, and the second half is the much heavier and bluesy side. Now this is NO ordinary rock band. Forget the fact the first 3 Journey albums are remarkably different from the Steve Perry years. Just the fact a rock band in 1977 was trying to cross into the mainstream by devoting one side to space rock and the other to blues is a risky, interesting move.

Now I will be the first to admit that the songwriting on side one doesn’t leave as much of an impression on me as side two. Some of the songs on the first side feels a bit TOO dreamy which means, occasionally, the songs feel unfocused and lack direction. This only occurs *sometimes* however. It definitely does not occur on the pop/rock classic “Spaceman”. That’s one really beautiful and sad vocal melody right there. Drifting through space alone and feeling depressed. Yup, that’s the atmosphere the song contains.
They even resemble the Magical Mystery Tour-era of the Beatles with the vocal melody in “People”. Listen to THAT excellent song. The next two songs sort of blend together in my mind as relatively aimless attempts at space rock, but they do eventually build into some excellent guitar work, so that makes up for it. Unfortunately “Here We Are” ends too soon because that guitar solo surely deserves a few extra minutes!

Now get THIS! The second side is totally insanely heavy rock and roll, some of it bluesy, some of it not too far off from resembling the classic period of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. NOW you see what it’s totally insulting when people refer to Journey as “housewife music”. Yeah, don’t even get me started…
“Hustler” is a really interesting take on the heavy blues rock genre. I love that guitar riff, and the guitar solo is *amazingly* heavy. The title has a vocal melody that is perhaps the best one on the entire album. Who can possibly hate THAT vocal melody? Seriously, who? The guitar playing in the very beginning of “Nickel & Dime” almost resembles that famous song “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens- these are a few of my favorite things” (I honestly don’t know who created that song, by the way) before suddenly EXPLODING into an electric guitar dreamers idea of a perfect heaven. “Karma” is a fairly messy and hard to distinguish blues/hard rock way to close out a wonderful album, but it is improving with more listens.

Yes Journey’s Next has improved dramatically for me thanks mainly to the better sound quality of the remastered version. Now here’s my older review, which you shouldn’t take seriously but I’m leaving it up anyway just in case you (the readers) may be in the same situation as me concerning a struggle to get into Journey’s Next. This is now officially a 5-star album (though I DID actually give it 4 stars originally, it’s honestly even better now).


Journey’s Next really shows signs that the band was about ready to change into a more commercial direction. The songwriting doesn’t quite hit the same point of excellence for me. I can’t remember how most of these songs go when the album is finished, especially the heavier parts of the songs. That doesn’t mean they’re bad songs or anything, because every song on here has its moments.
The vocals just don’t quite hit the same high point that the ones from the debut and Look to the Future did. Also, some of the vocal melodies feel like they rush along at a sloppy pace. Maybe it’s just me.
BUT, the guitar playing is really really good, and that’s why I’m giving the album a pretty decent score. Plus, the music still SOUNDS good because it’s mid 70’s hard rock with an experimental edge. The band is still pretty good here. I just feel a bit letdown with the songwriting compared to the previous two albums.
“Next” Is Awesome!!! True Classic Journey”!!!
By A Customer
March 10, 2002

I had to special order this CD a few years ago, and ever since I got it into my hot little hands, I’ve enjoyed this early Journey gem very much. This is the last album recorded by the band before Steve Perry joined. It is much like their second album “Look Into The Future” and it seems like Journey never runs out of new musical ideas to deliver to our ears. “Next” is every bit as unique as their debut, “Journey” and “Look Into The Future.” Like with the first two albums, Journey engages in powerful, sizzling creativity, and brings us a whole new set of interesting, thunderous, beats which makes you want indulge in the excitement of air-drum, air-guitar, and air-keyboard playing. Neal Schon’s guitar is just as mean as ever; full of life and bustling with activity. The fascinating, melodic charges come out at you, and are as vivid as ever. Aynsley Dunbar’s drums are as rowdy and strong as all get out. Ross Valory still proves he’s one of the best bass players around, and the voice of Gregg Rolie is a perfect fit as usual, gliding and roaring out with the amazing musical sounds. His keyboards are superb just like on the first two albums. He is never a disappointment. “Next” gives a hard-nosed, rough, rugged, melodic feel that is like no other. Songs like “Hustler,” “I Would Find You,” “Next” and “Karma” fall into this category especially. Highlights on the album are the catchy fun rock of “Spaceman,” the dreamy, melodic, free-flowing “People,” my favorite song; the edgy melodic guitar and keyboard clad “Next,” and the swirly rapidness of “Nickel And Dime.” This is a fun album with fun twists and catchy riffs. It is a partying rock album that will always be timeless!!

1975 Journey
1976 Look into the Future
1977 Next
1978 Infinity
1979 Evolution
1980 Departure
1981 Escape
1981 Captured (Live)
1983 Frontiers
1986 Raised on Radio
1996 Trial by Fire
2001 Arrival
2005 Generations
2005 Live Houston 1981
2008 Revelation
2011 Eclipse