Journey- Generations (Nomota)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. Faith In The Heartland
2. The Place In Your Heart
3. A Better Life
4. Every Generation
5. Butterfly
6. Believe
7. Knowing That You Love Me
8. Out Of Harms Way
9. In Self-Defense
10. Better Together
11. Gone Crazy
12. Beyond The Clouds



Journey was one of those bands that when I was a kid, everyone seemed to like. Now, many of those people will act like they didn’t, but I’ll own up to it – I liked Journey. There was Steve Perry’s glorious voice, Neal Schon’s polished guitar solos and Jonathan Cain’s catchy keyboard parts. After a long hiatus, Journey returned in 1996 with the surprisingly successful Trial By Fire. Then, Steve Perry acrimoniously left and Schon and Cain decided to continue. And here’s where they made their mistake.

Let’s look at an example of how to replace a successful lead singer, shall we. When Fish left Marillion, that band hired Steve Hogarth, a singer who sounded and acted absolutely nothing like his predecessor, to replace him. While Marillion were never again as successful commercially, they flourished artistically, releasing some of their best albums as they took bold new steps with their sound. A few years earlier, Van Halen did the same thing when Sammy Hagar took over for David Lee Roth, though in their case, they were even more commercially successful with the new singer.

As for Journey, they went and hired Steve Augeri, a singer that looks and sounds just like Perry. This move shows that Journey had no interest in moving forward – that their only interest lay in rehashing ideas that were popular 20 years ago.

Their first release without Perry was 2001’s Arrival, a completely wretched disc that resulted in the band being released by longtime record label, Columbia. Now there’s Generations, which is vastly superior to Arrival, though that isn’t really saying much as a disc full of dog yelps would have been preferable Arrival.

Despite a few moments on Generations, Journey goes out of their way to act like the last 20 years haven’t happened. Generations has lots of songs with “love” in the lyrics, big choruses and 80’s production, courtesy of Kevin Elson, the man who co-produced Journey mega-hits Escape and Frontiers. Tracks like “Faith In The Heartland” and “The Place In Your Heart” have that “been there, done that” feel – there’s absolutely nothing new to them. The music to that latter track is even reminiscent of “Separate Ways” in places. Obligatory ballads like “Butterfly” and “Knowing That You Love Me” try, but fail, to live up to tracks like “Faithfully” and “Send Her My Love.” And Augeri is in Perry clone mode throughout – casual fans of the band probably wouldn’t even notice that it’s a different singer.

The one thing of interest on Generations is that the instrumentalists take over the lead vocal spot on one track each. Drummer Deen Castronovo’s voice on “A Better Life” is the highlight of this exercise, though he, too, sounds somewhat like Perry. As for the others - Cain does a solid job singing “Every Generation” as does Schon on “In Self Defense,” while bassist Ross Valory does his Lemmy imitation on “Gone Crazy.”

Generations isn’t a bad disc, it’s just that aside from the various vocalist approach, there’s nothing remotely original here. But at least it’s more enjoyable than getting your teeth pulled, something that can’t necessarily be said of Arrival. At least that’s something.

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