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Journey - Greatest Hits Print E-mail
Saturday, 08 December 2001


Greatest Hits
format: SACD - stereo non hybrid
label: Columbia
release year: 2001
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Jerry Del Colliano
Image Have you ever been to If this site dedicated to bad hair could afford it, they would likely stream hit songs by Journey for you to listen to while you peruse the tasteless, time-warped hairdos. Now is listening to Journey tantamount to wearing a mullet? Absolutely not. In fact, the music of Journey is somewhat of a guilty pleasure for me. Having gotten their start as more of a hard rock band earlier in the 1970s, they softened their sound with the addition of frontman and vocalist Steve Perry. Disco-distracted audiences ate up the new sound, complete with soaring vocals, complex vocal harmonies and tasty, but not too edgy guitar work by Neil Schon.

Journey’s Greatest Hits is a stereo SACD without a hybrid layer, so it will only play on a dedicated SACD player. As a Greatest Hits collection, this recording is a good one to put on your early list of SACDs to add to your collection if you are any kind of Journey fan. The sound quality is very good for SACD, having been mastered by Bob Ludwig. The disc disappointingly has no added values only a few photos in a very thin booklet enclosed in the jewel case.

Musically, Journey Greatest Hits covers the hits of a very prolific pop-rock band with a few stiffs tossed in as filler on this 16-song collection. The first track, “Only The Young,” is a good example of a dud and frequently gets skipped when I play the disc. The second track, “Don’t Stop Believin’,” never gets passed over with its downright motivational vibe. The sound on “Don’t Stop Believin’” is far better than anything I have on any Journey CD. The introductory piano is more three-dimensional and detailed than I heard on past CDs. Perry’s vocals beam beyond the front boundaries of the speakers to create at fantastically three-dimensional stereo sound.

“Wheel In The Sky” is a classic rock staple but it is one of the big Journey hits that I feel doesn’t hold up as the others. Sonically, the high hat and rhythm guitar are beautifully separated by depth that Perry’s vocals nicely rise above. “Faithfully,” yet another smash hit for Journey, is a power ballad that adds in even more of the cheese factor to make the tune strangely irresistible. Songs about the road were clichéd back then and have gotten even worse today, but the piano parts and horn-like guitar lines make for tune that will sucker you in emotionally. No soft rock party (see story regarding this Gen X Manhattan trend) would be complete without a spin of “Faithfully.”

No one rocks harder than Al Cervik (Rodney Dangerfield’s character from “Caddyshack”) and nothing makes me think of Al Cervik more than the tune “Any Way You Want It.” When Cervik, not so patiently waiting for Judge Smail’s painfully slow foursome in the fairway of a par five at Bushwood Country Club, asks the question, “So what? So let’s dance!” and cranks up “Any Way You Want It,” the tune transcended from a good song to a transgenerational hit. It does make me wonder if during the SACD mastering session, the Gateway crew had any technical help from gophers or perhaps posted pin-up posters of ‘70s siren Lacey Underall.

Takling the cheese ballad to whole new levels, “Who’s Crying Now” has a more modern feel. The floor fill that starts the drumbeat has that huge (albeit not reverse-gaited) Phil Collins feel. The chorus is neatly layered with vocals and ultimately adds in more ‘80s-sounding synths. It is dated without question, but the songwriting and performance are good enough to give it the ability to pass the test of time.

The most rocking track of Journey’s Greatest Hits is “Separate Ways (worlds apart),” which builds on an aggressive guitar chop and quickly progresses to a sugary sweet vocal. The chorus is strident, cocky and loaded with attitude. The SACD version has added depth to the overall sound stage. Perry’s vocals sound sweet but upfront and powerful. It is the highlight of the record on SACD.

If you were ever tempted to walk around your condo waving a lit lighter, “Open Arms” on Journey’s Greatest Hits SACD would be the perfect opportunity. Once again, despite the hokiness, this is a great song that holds up over time with a vocal performance that is as good as it gets in its genre. On SACD, you can hear the subtle details of Schon’s little guitar licks during the quiet passages. At the end of the tune, you might be forced to wipe a tear from your eye.

One of the problems with both new audio formats is the lack of good, familiar songs to explore the new technologies. While not exclusively comprised of hits, Journey’s Greatest Hits on SACD gives you quite a few jams to enjoy on one disc. In a perfect world, I would have rather seen a surround mix for SACD, yet I have no major criticisms of the overall sound. If you like Journey at all, you’ll love them on this SACD.

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