|Journey - Greatest Hits DVD 1978 - 1997|
|Written by Jeff Fish|
|Tuesday, 25 November 2003|
I’ll be up front about this right away: Journey quit being a band that I cared about in 1980. Their first three albums - Journey, Look Into the Future and Next – were some of the high points in the San Francisco Bay area music scene from 1975 to 1978. Formed by Aynsley Dunbar, Gregg Rolie, Neil Schon, George Tickner and Ross Valory in 1975, Journey was one of the new breed of bands that were influenced by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Frank Zappa and Carlos Santana. Rolie and Schon had just left the Santana band, while Dunbar had just departed the Frank Zappa band. With musicianship to match that of the burgeoning fusion music scene Journey was set to take off. Soon Tickner left the band and the “classic” Journey lineup proceeded to make a name for themselves, although at a much slower pace than they would have liked. Steve Perry joined the band in 1978, which is where the band lost me and where this DVD starts. But once Perry joined the band, they went on to worldwide fame and fortune, selling somewhere near 100 million albums.
My biggest complaint with this DVD really isn’t the music, though. It’s the lack of any sort of connection with Journey’s past, as well as the lack of any real special features on this disc. There are no interviews or commentary and only a discography as a special feature with that – which is missing their first three albums! This disc consists of only the videos that were made in the Perry years. The DVD starts off with one of their biggest hits, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” from a 1981 concert, and while Journey continued to play their instruments at a very high level, the soul and creativity that once sparked this great band was gone. Seven of the 18 songs on this disc are live, but these are videos that were released at the time of the old concerts.
Spandex, big hair and cheesy ballads ruled the rock and roll airwaves in the ‘80s, and Journey was at the head of the pack. Selling out stadiums and concert arenas was what Journey did best and to quote Schon from the Journey episode of Behind the Music,” “The crowds got much better-looking,” which is evident from watching the concert segments. The concert footage is taken from three dates: 1981 - Houston, TX, 1986 - Angels Camp, CA and 1986 - Atlanta, GA. The band lineup for the 1981 Houston show is the Journey lineup that had the most success, consisting of Schon, Rolie, Valory, Jonathan Cain and Steve Smith. Most of the music videos that are on this disc are the ones that we all saw on MTV in the early 1980s. There are also three videos from 1986, as well as one from 1996. While I can remember the times and how silly videos got in the early ‘80s, my 13-year-old son (who was watching this DVD with me) asked me, “How can anyone think they’re cool doing that stuff?” Although that was the way videos were made at the time, that’s still a good question.
I also didn’t get the impression that Journey or Columbia Music necessarily spent a whole lot of time getting this release together. Maybe these are all the videos that Journey made. Like I said, I lost touch with them around 1980, but there had to be something more that they could bring to this release. It would have been nice to have some commentary about the songs, or anything else, for that matter. If you are a Journey fan, then I probably would recommend this release to you, if just to round out your catalogue. If you’re not a fan, then this DVD will do nothing to change your mind. Like I said in the opening of this review, I came to this with a certain mindset, albeit I did watch this with an open mind. But after watching this, I came to the conclusion that I was right in 1980; the music was calculated and choreographed to move albums, not make art. Don’t get me wrong, though: I do respect Journey as a group of truly talented musicians who make music that I simply don’t like. I just wish they had changed their name in 1978. They are not the same band, which is evident by the omission of Journey’s first three albums from this release’s discography. And I also realize that’s probably my main issue with them, too; they took something that I felt was truly creative and made it into a money machine. I can’t say that I necessarily blame them for that, but I don’t have to like it.