Supergroups either work or they don’t and this one definitely worked when it came to chart and sales success. Formed in 1987, the band featured Journey guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain who was also re-united with singer John Waite and bassist Ricky Phillips, his former bandmates in The Babys, along with drummer Deen Castronovo.
The first album, released in 1989, had two big hits, which pushed it to platinum. But I hated “When I See You Smile” and “Price Of Love”.
Very different songs hooked me. It started off with “Forget Me Not”. The Van Hagar sounding (but based on a Van Roth riff like “Dance The Night Away”) and “Heaven Is A 4 Letter Word” rocked harder than the hits and the likes continued with songs like “Best Of What I Got”, “Possession” and “Tough Times Don’t Last”.
While “Ghost In Your Heart” doesn’t grab me lyrically, the solo from Schon does. “Ready When You Are” rocks out of the gate, with its “All Right Now”/”Nothin But A Good Time” vibe.
“The Restless Ones” sounds like a cross between a Rocky movie soundtrack and the piano lines that Jonathan Cain wrote for Jimmy Barnes, about a wild heart calling out in the night. And Schon has some decent lead breaks in this one as well.
“Rockin’ Horse” is a blues pop rock ditty, which has Schon sleazily riffing away and when it comes time to solo, Schon again takes centre stage during the middle of the song and for the outro. And Waite is wailing, delivering a vocal line that’s worthy.
The band’s second album, “Backlash” was released in 1991 and it did nothing. The band had already broken up before the album even entered the mixing stage.
But the album does have some good stuff happening. Even though I don’t have it, the opening track “So This Is Eden” has one of Schon’s best riffs. “Straight To Your Heart” also has some cool riffage from Schon. “Dancing Off The Edge Of The World” is another rocker, which deserves more attention for its music, but the lyrics are overused and clichéd. And “Pray For Rain” is one of the best songs that Bad English wrote.
But there was no escaping the fact that every chorus on the follow up album was designed to be catchy. And it always happens that when two ballads bring success, the follow up album moves a bit further into soft rock territory. Songs like “Time Stood Still”, “The Time Alone With You”, “Savage Blue” and “Make Love Lost” proved that.
And since then, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain reformed Journey with Steve Perry first and then with multiple vocalists after that. Cain then found God and suddenly Journey’s songs became too explicit for him to perform. John Waite has remained as a solo artist, who is also fighting his labels to take back control of his songs. Castronovo joined Ozzy, was fired from Ozzy, joined Journey and then showed the world his great vocal chops with Revolution Saints, while also getting into trouble with the law. Ricky Phillips joined Whitesnake for a brief period and I’m not sure what happened next.