Infinity (1978)


 
1. Lights 2. Feeling That Way 3. Anytime 4. La Do Da 5. Patiently 6. Wheel in the Sky 7. Somethin' to Hide 8. Winds of March 9. Can Do 10.Opened the Door

 

Listening to this record along with any of the first three Journey albums that preceded this, one would have a very hard time finding many similarities. This was about as different as a style as you can possibly go while still maintaining the label "rock album". It must be stated that this direction wasn't by choice. The jazz fusion combo found themselves about to be dumped by their record label unless they started selling some records. Manager Herbie Herbert realized that the band needed a singer with a broader appeal and brought in Steve Perry. The initial foursome reluctantly agreed, not wanting to give up their trademark sound.

As soon as guitarist Neal Schon sat down to compose a few new songs with the new guy, the reservations vanished. They realized that Steve Perry could bring a lot more to the equation than just a new front voice. Oh sure, the diehards (there weren't that many) balked, and the change did bring one casualty in the band itself - after recording the record, drummer Ansley Dunbar decided he didn't like the direction - but the pros far outweighed the cons.

Although no one was probably that conscious of it at the time, these guys would soon dominate the airwaves and become synonymous with the epithet "arena rock". You can't just give the credit to the voice of Perry (although he was responsible for a big chunk of the success). The interesting thing is that the band seems to now enjoy the part of music that involves a "singer". The harmonies throughout the album are gorgeous, and former lead singer Gregg Rollie still gets to belt out lead vocals on a few of the tracks, and darn it if he doesn't sound better than he ever has before.

Perhaps a lot of the success belongs to producer Roy Thomas Baker (whose resume included, or would include The Cars, Cheap Trick, Foreigner and Queen) for carving out such a dominating sound. They rock pretty hard on La Do Da and Feeling That Way, yet they were already showing their softer side on such songs as the classic Lights (that everyone seems to know now, but no one had really heard of it at the time) and the beautifully underrated Patiently.

Completists would feel obliged to buy, at one point, everything this band had ever written and recorded, yet many could respectfully argue that this incarnation was new and fresh enough to be the "first" album that this "band" would release. And many would argue that nothing they would put out would be quite as powerful as this one.

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