Produced by: Kevin Shirley
Released: OUT / Website
Relative: Trial By Fire, Raised On Radio
The leaking of advance tapes to some media such as myself and then the subsequent uploading of the album to Napster users caused quite an uproar.|
The effect of those moves was a good part of the reason for a six month delay between that Japanese release and it now being released in the rest of the world.
The album was set to contain several ballads again and this was not totally accepted by the fans.
The feedback received by the band via message boards, e-mails to the albums producer and their website caused a rethink and gave guitarist Neal Schon the ammunition he was looking for to make the album a little harder edged.
The fans certainly didn't like the thought of another album of ballads, even though the quality was remarkable.
Neal and the rest of the gang went back into the studio and cut two new rock tunes for the worldwide release of the album. Concert favorite and one-time Bad English demo track World Gone Wild and new track Nothing Comes Close were recorded with producer Kevin Shirley late last year.
The release of the album in Japan was a major success and the almost unanimous verdict from imports that made it through to consumers was that the album was a welcome return and new vocalist Steve Augeri was hailed as a sensational replacement from Steve Perry.
Now US audiences get to judge the album, in it's new form. The two new tracks have been added, the soft pop ballad I'm Not That Way has been omitted and the coolest thing is the song earmarked to be the Japanese bonus track, the big rocking, uptempo To Be Alive Again has also been included.
I'm Not That Way now reverts to be the bonus track on all future pressings of the Japanese edition.
This has changed the dynamic of the album considerably. My previous review called for fewer ballads and a couple more rockers. That call has been filled to a tee and the result leaves Arrival standing head and shoulders above it's original release.
Given that the original release rated a 93% mark with me, means that this version is just about perfect. Just about...
Steve Augeri (of Tall Stories and Tyketto's second line up) was the man to fill the rather large shoes of Mr. Steve Perry and he has proven himself as more than a capable replacement.
Now he has just finished recording his first ever Journey record. I can safely say that the guys could not have picked a more brilliant nor a more suitable vocalist for the job.
Steve Augeri has more than made up for the loss of Perry and in some ways has added new life to the band with his awesome vocals.
In places you could swear that it was Perry himself singing, the comparison is that close.
But Augeri is no clone. He is his own man and on other tracks he places his own vocal stamp on proceedings, sounding like a seriously world class veteran of many Journey records. Quite honestly, there is no way you can tell this is his first record with the band. The months of touring prior to the album being recorded have gelled these guys, with new drummer Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Ozzy Osbourne), into a formidable line up.
So to the record. This is a far better record than Trial By Fire. The production is so much cleaner, with the every man on the record given room to breathe. Every instrument and chord change is audible and at no stage does the record become over produced like it's predecessor. Full credit to Kevin Shirley for producing and mixing a wonderfully arranged record that is seemingly stripped back without sounding like there is anything missing.
I think it is the best produced Journey record ever. It is also a lot cleaner and sharper than the debut Steve Augeri track Remember Me, featured on the Armageddon soundtrack.
I regard this as one of my favourite Journey record's ever - right alongside Raised On Radio, Escape and Frontiers.
Stylistically, the album sits most comfortably alongside the very smooth pure AOR release Raised On Radio, except this now rocks harder than that.
My initial review made this statement: "The second half of the album is still too weighed down with ballads and down tempo tracks. As good as these songs are, they balance of the album could have been improved with the simple addition of a couple of extra rockers and the removal of maybe one ballad."
Funnily enough, that is exactly what has happened.
I also added that missing To Be Alive Again track of the worldwide release would be criminal! That has also been fixed after fans hit the band's message boards after hearing the track off Napster.
So, to the tracks:
Higher Place (Written by Neal Schon, Jack Blades)
An instant classic rock anthem. If you were trying to introduce a friend to AOR by playing a song that summed everything you loved about this music to them, then this would be the track I played.
That tight production highlights a pumping bass line introducing the song to a brooding vocal in the verse, soaring to an explosion of guitar, piano and harmony vocals. A delight to listen to and simply put, I will be listening to this song in ten years time without tiring if it a bit.
I love the bridge after the second chorus that leads to the guitar solo. Awesome vocals Mr. Augeri and some fabulous shredding in the last minute of the song from Schon.
All The Way (Taylor Rhodes, Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, Steve Augeri)
A classic Journey ballad. Much in the vein of the first single off Trial By Fire, this track follows all the necessary rules of the lighter-in-the-air power ballad. A predictable first single as it has universal appeal. One of my favorite Journey ballads nevertheless.
Signs Of Life (Jonathan Cain, Elizabeth Cain, Neal Schon)
A killer track that takes us back to the feel of Raised On Radio. This is a pure FM radio summer hit. Jon Cain's piano gets particular attention in this track that compares to I'll Be Alright Without You, Be Good To Yourself or Suzanne, in the tempo and smooth multi-layered harmonies of the uplifting chorus. Yet another classic taste of pure AOR and a highlight of the album. Neal Schon's solo matches some of his most memorable melodic work. Can you spot the riff from an old classic?
All The Things (Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Andre Pessis)
This track is Neal Schon's time to shine. This is only a mid tempo track, but is one of the heaviest, dirtiest and moodiest Journey tracks ever. The guitar is mixed down in the verse, but comes alive in the verse but is grungy throughout. Augeri does his best gritty vocal and the rhythm section pounds away. This reminds me of Neal's work in Hardline and is the heaviest I have heard him play since that album.
Loved By You (Jonathan Cain, Kim Tribble, Tammy Hyler)
Is the second ballad of the album. This one is more a middle of the road piano ballad, rather than the big power type. A very Perry-ish and soulful vocal from Augeri sets the tone and Jon's piano is accompanied by some acoustic guitar and orchestral moments. Neal adds some Late Nite style soft electric also. Not a bad track, but not one of the highlights.
Livin' To Do (Neal Schon, Matt Schon, Jonathan Cain, Kim Tribble)
Another ballad here, but a 6 minute plus pure blues ballad, adding to the variety on offer. The album could have done with a return to a more uptempo track at this point, but this track remains a killer.
Any Journey fans that have bought any Of Neal Schon's solo work will recognize this guitar sound. You would have heard it on his Late Nite album, and his work with Australia's Jimmy Barnes. An awesome power filled blues ballad with plenty of guitar work.
The first of the new US Edition tracks is added to the album at this point. The classic AOR anthem World Gone Wild, that was tested on the road last year, is here in studio form and adds vitality to the album at a vital point. The album needed a couple of rockers in a row and we get it.
World Gone Wild has a slightly more intense feel to it. It is what you would call an urgent track, seemingly in a hurry to get to where it's going.
There is a heavy keyboard presence to the song with Neal's guitar happily providing support. The chorus is a beacon of light in this otherwise dark swirling melodic rocker.
It's cool to see an uptempo track that isn't as upbeat as I Got A Reason and To Be Alive Again.
The last minute of the 6 minute rocker features some standout guitar soloing from Neal Schon and a fine extended instrumental.
I Got A Reason (Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Jack Blades)
This track keeps the sound and feel of the record in arena rock mode. This is a pretty straight-ahead uptempo rocker that will please everyone. A feel good summer rocker.
With Your Love (Jonathan Cain, Elizabeth Cain, Neal Schon)
Back to another ballad, this one is a real sentimental song, with beautiful lyrics and back towards the ballad style of the Trial By Fire album, like When I Think Of You.
Lifetime Of Dreams (Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Kim Tribble)
Is a perfect ballad. This is another big sentimental ballad but with a little extra kick. Running it back to back with the last ballad slows the tempo of the album down again, but I don't want to take anything away from this ballad. The chorus is a pure AOR anthem and will be a popular live track I am sure. The last minute of it features some great Neal Schon soloing and Jon Cain piano work.
Live And Breathe (Steve Augeri, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain)
Is a soft track again, but a little different. It's not a ballad as such, but a soft moody pop rocker.
Ross Valory's bass is all over the track, it has a very cool feel to it. The chorus sees a more prominent guitar lick which really is quite heavy, just toned down to match the song. Check out the additional lead break after the chorus to give the song extra punch.
Nothing Comes Close is the other addition to the album. It also comes at a time when a rock track was needed. This is another great tempo number that lifts the spirits of the album and answers the fans calls. The song is a tougher sounding blues rocker with a distinctive 80's FM rock feel to it. A standout but simple chorus of harmony vocals does the job perfectly.
To Be Alive Again
Is the Japanese bonus track and just rocks! What a sensational song. This is another classic Journey AOR pop rock anthem, filled with a positive and happy sentiment and equal mix guitar and piano. The last 90 seconds features a wonderful piano guitar dueling solos
Kiss Me Softly (Neal Schon, Jack Blades, Steve Augeri)
This is one of the most original and different Journey tracks of all time. Despite it being another slowish track, this will be acclaimed I am sure. A moody piano intro, a soft raspy Augeri vocal and a chorus that suits the track so much. The thing I love and find extraordinary is the complex but seemingly spacious instrumental break after the chorus. There's a mix of Schon's guitar, Cain's piano/keyboards and a rhythm section that adds so much ambience. A product of the guys releasing records for Higher Octave I'm sure.
We Will Meet Again (Neal Schon, Steve Augeri, Kim Tribble)
This is another killer farewell track and ends the album beautifully. Augeri holds a real vocal power and he uses his voice well here.
The Deen Castronovo drum track gives the song real power and Neal's guitar is again rough and heavy, just mixed right into the background. In fact, besides the vocals, the drums are the next most prominent instrument in the mix. Makes for a good sound. Neal's acoustic work latter in the track is also cool.
|PRODUCTION: 100%||SONGS: 98%||VIBE: 99%||ATTITUDE: 99%||ESSENTIAL FOR: All Journey fans and classic AOR lovers.|
RECENT DISCOGRAPHY:Escape . Frontiers . Raised On Radio . Greatest Hits . Time 3 . Trial By Fire . Greatest Hits Live . Arrival
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