By: Michael Jones
While the remaining members of Journey besmirch their legacy touring with, of all things, a former Gap employee filling in for Steve Perry, Columbia Records is re-mastering and re-releasing Journey's entire back catalog, beginning with Greatest Hits, and the timing couldn't be better: a new audience, too young to have appreciated Journey when they were current, is primed to discover the riches that the band offers, while the hipper-than-thou crowd, who ignored them for fear of losing much-coveted cred, can finally appreciate these timeless songs without reproach, as the Rock Dinosaur stigma that Journey was saddled with for the past twenty years is blessedly waning.
Greatest Hits nicely encapsulates Journey's career by offering fifteen classic tracks, most of which you have doubtless heard more times that you could count, either on the radio, television, films or karaoke bars being mauled by pitch-challenged drunks. But therein lies the magic of this band: time has not diminished the quality of these songs, which showcase the guitar virtuosity of Neil Schon and the unparalleled vocals of Steve Perry (and a quick glance at the credits to the best songs on this collection shows that latter-era keyboardist Jonathan Cain was an indispensable songwriter, even if history has not given him the credit that he is due.)
It's hard to imagine Journey ever playing small venues, as their songs beg for an arena full of mulleted fans. Your inner-hescher will certainly throw some goat as "Wheel in the Sky," "Don't Stop Believin'" and, arguably the best rock song ever written, "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) storm out of the speakers, while the incredible ballads like "Faithfully," "Open Arms" and the gorgeous "Send Her My Love" will have you holding your lighter aloft and grabbing some sweet mama for some "Lovin', Touchin' [and] Squeezin'." The album's bonus track, 1996's "When You Love A Woman," can be safely ignored, as it sounds more like Brian Adams schlock than classic Journey, while "Ask the Lonely," from the soundtrack to Two of a Kind, could be deleted from future pressings without anyone being seriously disappointed.
The re-mastering greatly improves the sonic signature of these songs, which is saying a great deal, as they sounded gigantic when they were originally released. So grab a copy and re-acquaint yourself with some of the best songs ever recorded.