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1996 – Part 1.3: Journey – Trial By Fire

Steve Perry was back with Jonathan Cain, Neal Schon, Ross Valory and Steve Smith and Journey was rocking again after a 10 year gap, thanks to no small part to John Kalodner. Kevin Shirley is producing and this album is a return to form.

“Message Of Love” has a Chorus inspired by “Separate Ways”. As far as opening tracks go, it’s excellent, a great way to re-introduce the band in the 90’s and while other bands were removing guitar solos, no one told Neal Schon about it as he goes to town on this one and re-introduces the world to guitar solos.

“One More” has a groove that could have come from a Faith No More album. And what made Journey famous originally is how they could change styles within an album, as “When You Love A Woman” shows a their R&B Ballad roots.

“Forever In Blue” has this “Best Of Both Worlds” style riff to kick it off before a familiar Journey like Chorus kicks in.

“Castles Burning” has the guitar front and centre. A sleazy bluesy rock song with an arena rock like Chorus. It’s by far the heaviest track on the album.

“Still She Cries” has some wonderful guitar playing on it for a ballad and Perry as usual delivers a stellar vocal.

The second half of the album didn’t rock as hard as the first half, but each song has some cool Schon moments.

“When I Think Of You” is a ballad, and not a favourite, but Schon is playing some memorable melodic licks.

“Can’t Tame the Lion” is a great rock song with excellent guitar passages that remind me of Vito Bratta.

“Trial By Fire” feels like a jam over a Smith/Valory groove with Schon playing jazz like leads and chords.

A back/hip injury to Perry derailed the subsequent tour and by 1998, Perry was out of the group and Journey went into different versions before settling in with Arnel Pineda.

Then there was a fight over the Journey brand, as Ross Valory and Steve Smith tried to take control of the band name. While that was happening, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain also fell out as Cain found religion and didn’t want to play the Journey songs anymore as it went against his faith, which infuriated Schon.

But hey, money talks and they made up and Journey is rocking again.


5 thoughts on “1996 – Part 1.3: Journey – Trial By Fire

  1. I actually bought this as Schon’s playing on the debut Hardline gave me hope than I heard this album and Trial By Fire was not what I was looking for! lol I will leave it at that but I’m glad you found some stuff though.

  2. Great to have them back at this time, but it wasn’t as great as I had hoped although some really great tracks. The fights in the band over the lat few years have been sad and I find it hilarious that Steve Smith & Ross Valory tried to take the name. That was a hoot. And then John’s “religion” was even more great drama. A bunch of childish old men fighting…its fun to watch.

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