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Hello again and welcome.
The latest in this duelling playlist between me and my good buddy Oates (as his hair and mustache are curlier than mine) is a favorite band of mine from San Francisco, CA, who churned out massive hits in the 1980s despite having been formed the year after I was born. 1973.
They were a five-man-band from the Golden Gate city which also is home to the most inescapable prison that Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery managed to escape from in two popular movies. They went through several band changes and were initially a bluesy-progressive rock band, but after 1977, they added a brand new lead singer, Steve Perry, and the rest as they say... history!
The main lineup I'm interested in is that of Perry, Neal Schon (lead guitar), Jonathan Cain (guitar/keyboard), Steve Smith (drums), and Ross Valory (bass) which begat the eventual hit machine when their 1978 album Infinity gave them the modest hit in the power ballad, "Lights." As with many groups, the stadium rock milieu was growing fast and this band was forced to keep up.
As if they had to. The album Evolution in 1979 netted them their first Top 20 hit, "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" and then in 1980, they kept the hit rocket flying with Departure giving them another hit: "Any Way You Want It." Then, came Escape in 1981 and... oh, well, it's my favorite cliché... history.
Here are the Top Five Journey Picks.
5. "Any Way You Want It" (1980)
Balls-to-the-wall rocker with a simple chorus hook. While it didn't crack the Top 20, it became a staple in their concerts and also got a boost from many mainstream comedy movies like Caddyshack (1980) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003).
4. "Be Good To Yourself" (1986)
Their first single off their much-delayed album Raised On Radio went Top 10 and brought the band back from a long hiatus after Steve Perry briefly went solo. Like my buddy's number 5 pick, it's a head-banger and actually one of their first songs to not have a promotional music video.
3. "Stone In Love" (1981)
Mid-tempo, feel-good power ballad was a hit on the FM rock stations, but was never released as a single. Still having all the ingredients (killer guitar riffs, pulse-pounding drums, Steve Perry's strong vocals) that make a Journey song great.
2. "Don't Stop Believin' (1981)
Many will argue that THIS song is their signature song. Easily the most recognizable with its piano/synth opening and Perry's vocals detailing a "small town girl livin' in a lonely world." A song that has been featured in countless movies, shows, video games and even got the Glee treatment in its pilot episode. Their best-selling single to date as of 2009.
1. "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" (1979)
Their first official Top 40 hit and recognizable for its throbbing bass and its sexy guitar licks and piano. A killer break-up song that also functions as the ultimate-revenge-against-your-ex-love serenade, complete with the "Na-na-na-na-naaa-nah!" kiss-off.
5. "Only the Young" (1985)
The only known movie soundtrack hit they had. Off the Vision Quest soundtrack which starred Matthew Modine as a high school wrestler and Linda Fiorentino as the older woman love interest and even featured Madonna briefly as a bar singer. It was also recorded by the rock band Scandal and gained newsworthy attention as it was the subject of a VH1 Behind the Music segment involving a terminally-ill teenager who was a fan of the band and had been given a cassette of the single along with a Walkman to hear it. It's a memorable rock ballad with some substance.
4. "Suzanne" (1986)
Another balls-to-the-wall rocker that didn't quite generate the heat it should've following the band's comeback hit "Be Good To Yourself." Basically, lyrical content is the pining for a pretty actress who used to date the singer—one of many female name songs to pop up constantly in the 80s.
3. "Girl Can't Help It" (1986)
This song did much better than no. 4 on my list. A sweet-tempered rock ballad with sexy harmonies. Maybe Raised On Radio may have been my favorite album of theirs.
2. "Who's Crying Now" (1981)
Of the two singles off of Escape, this one resonates stronger than their classic "Don't Stop Believin'" or even their biggest smash to date, "Open Arms." I'll go with the smooth vocal delivery by Perry, the moody bass line and the chorus harmonies that make up the cake. The guitar finale is just the velvet frosting on it.
1. "Oh Sherrie" - Steve Perry (1984)
Oops! I pulled a switcheroo! My top Journey choice isn't even a Journey song. It was Perry's first single smash that went Top 3 in late 1984. A moody pop/rock ballad about his then-on-again-off-again girlfriend and known for it's rather goofy MTV video.
1. "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" (1979)
Like my compatriot, I too love this Top 20 hit. It's the thumping bass and guitar licks that set it in motion, not to mention the nasty I-hate-you lyrics. Never has the sing-songy "nah nah nah" kiss-off ever sounded so sexy.
That's all folks... for today.