Next (1977)

1. Spaceman 2. People 3. I Would Find You 4. Here We Are 5. Hustler 6. Next 7. Nickel and Dime 8. Karma


The third installment of the "pre Steve Perry era" is, without a doubt, the weakest. This album sounds like they're simply trying too hard. Although the music business was a lot more flexible in the seventies then it would become decades later, it was still a business - and businesses want a return on their investment. Journey's music simply wasn't giving their record label a well enough return. For the most part, the band does what it does well - play good, quality music with a foursome of stellar musicians.

"Quality Music" however, doesn't necessarily translate into "popular music" or, in this case specifically, "good songs". On their last album, the guys were trying to write more radio friendly songs, and they basically failed to do so. It would have been more appealing on this, their third, effort to have gone back to the basics of their earlier sound. The problem was that no one was really buying (literally) that sound either.

Not surprisingly, it's when the guys are just being themselves, as on the lead off cut Spaceman or the killer instrumental Nickel and Dime that they sound the best. They just sound like, as musicians, these guys just belong together. The rest of the album is mostly a huge embarrassment, though, as they're dragged kicking and screaming to try to perform something that might appeal to a greater mass of people. Sadly, it didn't really appeal to anyone (other than their hometown following) and it wasn't really a surprise that they would soon be forced to change direction quickly, or be dropped from their label like a ton of bricks. Enter Steve Perry. But that's getting ahead of the story....

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