Saturday, June 24, 2017

Journey Album Retrospective: "NEXT", Released in February 1977


Album Cover - Front

Gregg Rolie..........Keyboards, Lead Vocals
Neal Schon...........Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Lead Vocals
Ross Valory...........Bass, Background Vocals
Aynsley Dunbar......Drums, Percussion

Album Cover - Back

Main Release Format..........Vinyl Album (LP)
Label............................Columbia Records

Management and Direction.....Walter “Herbie” Herbert
Produced by Journey for Nightmare Productions, Inc.
Recorded and Mixed at His Master’s Wheels, San Francisco, CA
Recording and Mixing Engineer..........Smiggy
Mastered at Capitol Recording Studios, Hollywood
Mastering Engineer.....Bruce Botnick  (Thank You, Mike Dilbeck)

Art Direction and Photography for Journey.......Bruce Steinberg
Album Design......Bruce Steinberg and Ellie Oberzil
Sleeve Art..........Mansfield

Album Liner - Side One

Release Date............February, 1977
Chart Rating............#100
Number Sold...........-500,000
Catalogue Number.....PC34311
Genre....................Progressive Rock, Jazz Fusion

Album Liner - Side Two

Number of Tracks........8;

Side 1;
1. Spaceman..............4:00
2. People..................5:20
3. I Would Find You......5:53
4. Here We Are...........4:16

Side 2;
1. Hustler.................3:14
2. Next....................5:26
3. Nickel & Dime.........4:13
4. Karma..................5:08

Special Thanks to everyone at CBS Records and to these special friends:
Gary Jackson (financial direction)
Brian Rohan (attorney-at-peace)
Bruce “One-Stop” Steinberg (overtime)
Ray Arbuckle
Ron Bennett
Carol Bork
Jonathan Coffino
Charley Coplen
Mike Dilbeck
Don Ellis
Sam Hood
Mark Hyman
Bruce Lundvall
Rob Oberman
Frank Shargo
Peter Starr
And to Bill Graham and the FM Productions staff

Extra special thanks to our loyal and dedicated staff:
Gloria “Glo” Calbreath, secretary
Juan “Zopilote” Vallanueva, office manager
Patrick “Bubba” Morrow, road manager
Ken “The Duke” Mednick, lighting designer
Greg “Michelin Man” Schafer, axes & lamps
Chris “Biff” Uryevick, drum roadie
Ed “The Hit Man “Simeone, house engineer

Thank you, Herbie for your oneness, dedication and concern

Journey Fan Club;
Send self-addressed envelope to
P.O. Box 404, San Francisco, California  94101

(John Vallanueva, road manager)

Album Label - Side One

Album Label - Side Two

Number of Singles 1;
Spaceman / To Play Some Music

Spaceman Promo Single Mono Side

Spaceman Promo Single Stereo Side

Spaceman Single - Side One

Spaceman Single - Side Two


Album Review
Journey's third album, Next, makes it perfectly clear that these guys would become hugely popular the moment they would streamline their sound. They really were excellent songwriters as well as players. There isn't a weak song on the album. Neal Schon really knew how to infuse everything with exciting guitar solos back when he was still learning how to be a great showman.

As Journey was shifting to a more of a pop sound while keeping the roots of Rock and Roll intact over the period of these first three albums, it presents itself pretty clearly here that they have what it takes to make it big. The sound on this album is still dense and earthy while making the shift to a more pop sound, although Rolie’s vocals tend to be a bit more rough and soulful than what Journey would become on their next album.

I do love “Spaceman.” It is the first of many Journey power ballads, even if it's obvious they took a lot of hints from “Rocket Man.” Also, the melody is gorgeous as the album opener. The follow-up songs start to actually seem like a classic Journey songs, as they sport a tighter, more streamlined sound. The only thing missing here are the flamboyant vocals. The album does create a quite compelling atmosphere.

There isn’t a song over 6 minutes on this album while they average about 4-5 minutes. This album is four minutes shorter than Look Into The Future. That was precious time that could have been used to extend the album's terrific closer, the dark and powerful “Karma.” ...Come on! Doesn't a song like that need an extended jam session? I'm not even a jam guy, but considering how entertaining it has been hearing Schon and Rolie go at it in the previous Journey albums, why not bring it here?

Gregg Rolie’s vocals, as great as they are, do call for something more. If only Journey was able to bring that perfect voice to offset Gregg’s powerful voice, the possibilities seem endless. Although this album might not thrill me like Journey's previous ones did, it's still nonetheless among the group's finer releases. 

The cover art front and back are full color pictures of the band, the inner sleeve does contain the first incarnation of some feathered wings artwork, but it’s bitmapped black and white.

Spaceman (A Song For Hang Gliders)
Lyrics by Aynsley Dunbar and Gregg Rolie
Music by Gregg Rolie
It's hard for me not to want to compare this directly with the song that opened Look Into the Future, which was a bouncy and fun Supertramp-ish pop tune. This is also a pop tune but a ballad and kind of a good first power ballad that Journey would become famous for.

Actually this song seems to take a lot of obvious hints from Elton John's “Rocket Man.” Somehow that's not at all because of the similar song titles. It's Rolie's vocal performance, which adopts Elton John's mannerisms. (Hear how Rolie songs “Ooh, I'm not a spaceman, no, no.” I mean, the instrumental textures are engaging and the melody is gorgeous. What more do you need?

Lyrics by Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie
Music by Aynsley Dunbar and Gregg Rolie
This is the closest thing we get to the classic Journey sound in this pre-Steve Perry trilogy. All that's missing is flamboyant lead vocals, as Rolie's vocals here are more or less flat and less involved. It's that smooth and tight atmosphere they create here, really providing a nice texture for the ears to sink into. Midway through the drama picks up where we get that zippy synthesizer solo and probably the most crowd-pleasingly flashy electric guitar solo Schon has ever done so far! I believe this song shows Journey gearing up for their commercially successful days yet to come!

I Would Find You
Lyrics by Neal Schon and Tena Austin
Music by Neal Schon
Lead Vocals by Neal Schon
Here’s a good six minute song. Whereas lengthy songs like that had me positively excited in the previous album, this song isn’t the one to extend that extra 50 seconds. Though I do like that mystical, Middle Eastern-like bendy synthesizer solo that starts this off. After that, all we get is a heavy and very slowly developing filler. Some buzzy and bendy electric guitar chords do lend it a foreboding flavor, and there's a little bit of soloing toward the end that's nice, but it's ultimately a bit boring. Overall a good effort but this would need that perfect voice to supplement what Gregg is trying to do here.

Here We Are
Music and Lyrics by Gregg Rolie
This song starts out with heavy, dreamy, and dreary, pure synthesizer chords. What happened to Gregg’s Hammond organ? The song develops very slowly and really needs a soaring voice to take this song to it’s fullest potential, apart from its very last minute when some momentum finally starts to pick up. Schon is also far too absent throughout this, his electric guitar is kept merely in the background.

Lyrics by Aynsley Dunbar
Music by Gregg Rolie
Well this is definitely more like classic early! It starts out right away with some lightning-fast electric guitar licks, before delivering a heavy riff. There are lots of things to listen to here. Though it doesn't quite have that gradual, flawlessly developing momentum that some songs in their previous album had. The riff isn't really that catchy, but this thing is littered with Neal's show-offey electric guitar licks, which is pretty cool.

Lyrics by Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, and Heidi Cogdell
Music by Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie
There are power-chords. Is this album leading into Infinity or what? ...I mean, this song is muddy, gritty, and ugly--making it totally unlike the glistening studio magic of Infinity--but still…I have to say that Gregg spends so much time singing in this and Neal is more reduced to licking away faintly in the background, regrettably, until the final minute when the groove gets quicker and heavier, and Neal starts going to town. The vocal melody is pretty good, Gregg does a great job with the vocals. Quite good as a whole, but was elevated tremendously in the live shows when Steve Perry added his voice to the song. If the album had a second single, this might have been it!

Nickel and Dime
Music by George Tickner, Ross Valory, Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie
An excellent instrumental! It's a backdrop to so many Journey documentaries. The song gives Neal and Gregg the excuse to noodle around exclusively throughout this. Gregg is using a synthesizer here instead of the Hammond organ he would have used in the previous two albums. Unlike the previous albums they're playing a bit flashy here, as opposed to a bluesy sound. They had proven to be excellent blues soloists in the past. This is an excellent instrumental which would be the last for a few years coming.

Lyrics by Aynsley Dunbar
Music by Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie
Lead Vocals by Neal Schon
This is an appropriate send-off to pre-Perry Journey if there ever was one, and these kind of jams will be missed. Neal Schon takes lead vocals on this one and kills it! This is the roughest, muddiest, grittiest, and heaviest Journey song of all time. Just listen to this song and try to refrain from bobbing your head righteously to it. This riff is very catchy. Well, this is Journey, after all. This song really called for 9 minutes of blistering jamming! But all they give us is 5!

No comments:

Post a Comment