Yes, there's that brand new, sizzling good Raised On Radio album - chock-a-block with all the Journey music you've come to love - and yes, there is that hit single, "Be Good To Yourself", plus a hot, covering-all-the-bases, summer tour. By all accounts, it sure looks as if it's rockin' business-as-usual for the Journey-men. But a closer look tells you all's not quite as smooth as it seems.
Journey, the group, has been around for longer than a decade. Through the years, they've had their ups 'n downs, including a virtual revolving door of members Aynsley Dunbar and Gregg Rolie are not joined by drummer Steve Smith and bass player Ross Valory on the list of ex-Journey-men. While changing rockers hasn't hurt the band in the past, the tell-tale difference this time is that Steve Perry, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain, the remaining trio, are not looking for new permanent members. They'll be using sidemen on the tour.
Regular Rockline! readers are in the know about why Journey is now a threesome: the group that's been described as "filled with talent, tension and ego" just couldn't keep it together anymore. Simply put, the musical alliance of Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain plus the significant contributions of 'lone wolf' Steve Perry completely overpowered Steve Smith and Ross Valory. Their input was often neglected rumour has it that Steve Perry even brought in another bass player without telling Ross, who subsequently walked out angrily during pre-production sessions on the album. Indeed, while Steve Smith is credited with drums on three tracks, Ross Valory's name is noticeably absent from the liner notes.
Of course, compromises of sorts were made for Raised On Radio - Journey's first group album in three years! It's not a very well kept secret that Neal Schon and Steve Perry haven't always gotten along musically but for Raised On Radio, Steve's input was significant. No one's forgetting the major league success he had with his solo, Street Talk and Journey's too smart not to be looking for some measure of commercial success.
But many signs point to a final musical parting of even these three. Steve is anxious to get to work on a second solo effort and it's been hinted that Neal's been more satisfied with his HSAS LP (with Sammy Hagar) that with Journey work.
The fact, too, that no money was spent on videos for Raised On Radio is significant. "Video's don't have any impact on the life of our records," is how a Journey spokesperson explained the fact that none were being filmed, but it also makes sense that a group ready to split needn't bother with the extra time and expense.
Why, you might ask, did they make an album at all if everyone's so anxious to get on with solo projects? They had to - contractually.
Of course, the possibility exists that Journey will continue as the "official" word has it as a working threesome, with sidemen as needed. But don't count on it - better yet, pick up that Raised On Radio LP and go out and see the band on tour. It may very well be your last chance.
© Rockline! Volume 8, #9, September 1986, Kia-Ora Publications Inc.