Frontiers (1983)


 
1. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) 2. Send Her My Love 3. Chain Reaction 4. After the Fall 5. Faithfully 6. Edge of the Blade 7. Troubled Child 8. Back Talk 9. Frontiers 10.Rubicon

 

Although no one knew it at the time, the band's last release Escape would prove to be the band's best album in its history. Like all bands coming off such a high, this always posed problems. First, how do you top it? Or at least match it? Second, the band was burning out quickly due to the new demands of being superstars (there was even a video game out of the band for crying out loud). Then, you had the timing - specifically 1983 was a lot different than 1981, and many of the arena rockers that ruled the world found themselves displaced by a "new wave" of superstars.

Fortunately, Journey didn't really try to change anything on this album, they simply made, in many ways, an "Escape Part 2". You may not know that from the album cover. The traditional Scarab Beetle was gone, and in its place was some strange looking robot (and look what robots did to the career and reputation of Styx at this point in history). Yet as soon as everyone heard the first single, Separate Ways (Worlds Apart), people breathed a huge sigh of relief. I would argue that this was their best song ever. It has a lot more energy than anything off of Escape, yet, just like everything else in Journey's catalog, it's not so overbearing that it pushes people away.

There are a few instances where the band tries to replicate the hit song Open Arms from the last album. Send Her My Love and Faithfully both get an "A", even if they couldn't quite match the euphoria of what many would argue was the best power ballad in the history of rock and roll. Where the band does outdo its last album is in the area of hard rock songs. This was never Journey's strong point - at least in the hit single department. Yet Chain Reaction, Rubicon and, especially Edge of the Blade show that this band did in fact have a huge pair of balls, and could swagger them when they desired. Also in the awesome department is the heavy-drum influenced Back Talk that lets drummer Steve Smith show off his talents quite well. It was easy for a guy like Smith to get buried in this band, yet he was one of the best in the business, and, not surprisingly, we see that he has a writing credit for the song.

Despite the fact that the album does rock heavier than anything they had ever done, they also sound more commercial and radio friendly then they ever had, and Jonathan Cain was quickly establishing himself as a "key writer" as opposed to "the new guy". The direction was welcomed by most, but there were others who didn't like the fact that this band seemed to be everywhere all of the sudden. The success would get to the band members in a not-so positive way, as well, and sadly, but predictably, the band would begin to crumble shortly afterwards.

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