Don’t Stop Believin’

Part 235: Steve Perry

RECORD STORE TALES Part 235: Steve Perry

One Saturday in 2002 after a long (8 hour +) shift at the record store, I went over to my friend Shannon’s house. Her next door neighbors were having a karaoke party that night and we were invited. I like karaoke, although Shannon warned me in advance that her friends didn’t have many songs I’d like.  If any.

She was right. Among the Shania Twain, Meat Loaf and Grease songs were a few rockers, but her neighbors didn’t like rock. So I sat quietly and listened to some of the worst singing I’ve heard this side of Britney Spears. A little bit later on, another rocker guy showed up. For the life of me I cannot remember his name. (George? Gord? Gomer?) It doesn’t matter, because from that day forward he was known to us as Steve. Steve Perry.*

As soon as he walked in, long hair and pack of cigs in hand, I whispered to Shannon, “Does that guy not look like Steve Perry from Journey?”

Shannon turned and looked.  Turned back.  “Oh my God.  He kind of does!”

Once Steve Perry showed up, we managed to get a little rock into the night.  I dueted with him on “Jump” by Van Halen, but I was most excited to share the microphone with Steve on “Don’t Stop Believin'”.  A picture was taken of this life changing moment.  Incidentally, singing Journey songs in general is really, really hard!  I don’t recommend it to the weak willed.

STEVE PERRY - WPCFUCD

Microphone in one hand, pack of cigs in the other.

I sent the picture to My Favourite Aunt.  “Doesn’t this guy look like Steve Perry?” I asked in the email.

She responded, “No.  Steve Perry from Aerosmith is sexy.  That guy doesn’t look anything like Steve Perry.”

I was a little ashamed that I had to explain the difference between Joe Perry and Steve Perry to my Aunt.  She told me she didn’t know who Steve Perry was so she couldn’t offer her opinion on his doppelganger.  However I remain convinced that my co-lead vocalist that night bore a passing resemblance to the rock great.  Visually, not vocally.  Vocally, “Steve” would have given Rebecca Black a run for her money.

Note:  Shannon tells me that for some reason, she still remembers Steve Perry’s real name:  Ed!

REVIEW: Journey – Eclipse (2011 Japanese import)

JOURNEY – Eclipse (2011 Japanese import)

You gotta give ’em credit for trying. Three (!) singers since Steve Perry left, and Journey still refuse to patch it up or pack it in. Arnel Pineda is still the singer, back here for his second Journey album, and now contributing songwriting to the mix.

ECLIPSE_0003Otherwise, Eclipse (stylized as ECL1PS3 on the cover art) is heavily dominated by Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, and you can tell that this is Neal’s album. Upon playing Eclipse, you will be inundated by colossal Schon riff after colossal Schon riff. This is backed by some dramatic synth by Cain. It’s a much heavier Journey album than any in recent memory. It’s a good mix, and producer Kevin Shirley captured it. I’ve been skeptical in the past when Journey puts out a new album and says, “This is us being heavier.” Stuff like the Red 5 EP…they were just underwhelming and were missing the soul of Journey.

I would argue that the soul of Journey belongs to Steve Perry, but Arnel Pineda turns in a stunning performance this time. Not that he didn’t last time, but this time it sounds less like he’s trying to be Steve Perry. This time it sounds like he’s more himself, and it’s better that way. Incredible set of pipes on this man by the way.

As long time fans know, Journey did three albums before Steve Perry joined the band. These albums had their roots in more instrumental, progressive rock.  One or two of the guitar passages on Eclipse sound a like stuff from those first three albums. It’s fleeting but it’s there.

Fave track: “Edge of the Moment”.

Most Journey-esque song: “City Of Hope”. (It even calls out an older Journey song title called “Message Of Love”.)

Meanwhile, the fine “She’s A Mystery” (co-written by Pineda) is a great little epic acoustic/electric song with some sweet Schon overtones that sound like gulls flying overhead. It captures the vibe of the more atmospheric material from Trial By Fire that I liked so much.

The extra thick case of the Japanese CD, can't replace it if you break it!

The extra thick case of the Japanese CD, can’t replace it if you break it!

The Japanese bonus track is a live cut of “Don’t Stop Believin'”, from the DVD Live In Manila.  No live album was ever made of that live concert, so this is a CD exclusive.   The Japanese CD also comes in an extra wide case, housing a lenticular cover insert.  Very similar to the recent “3D” Kiss Monster cover.

The thing about Journey albums of late is memorability. Your brain says “this is a good song, it has a melody I like,” but a day later you can’t remember how the song went. Eclipse is also like that.  All the songs are strong, melodic workman-like Journey songs.   They just seem to lack whatever it was about the classics that made them stick in the head.  Maybe I need to listen to it more, but I rarely have the craving to do so, when I can spend the time with Trial By Fire.

3/5 stars