Great Rock Albums of 1983: Journey- Frontiers
Many a person, myself included, after hearing the “Frontiers” album by Journey back in 1983, came to the conclusion that they had gone too commercial with the album. Some of those same people further argued that the descent down that slippery slope actually started with their previous album, “Escape” two years prior and that “Frontiers” was just a natural progression down that slope. While I won’t rack my brain nor strain my typing fingers worrying when Journey went too commercial, I do know that when I heard this album, it didn’t make me forget about all about their earlier harder albums.
With all of the above said, “Frontiers” doesn’t suck. Sure it’s a come down and I wouldn’t debate anyone who said it was a sell out (though I wouldn’t debate anyone who said it wasn’t either) but it’s not a bad album at all. I think what Journey tried to do was to be more modern but trying to keep their more hard rock following. Many of the songs on the album have the potential to be real rockers and Neil Schon hammers out some cool guitar solos on them but where there might be a hard guitar, it is masked by the keyboards. The opener and first single, “Separate Ways” bears testimony to that fact. I mean if they had just let the hard guitar alone and had the keyboards play a more supportive role, I would have head banged away to it big time instead of just shrugging my shoulders and saying, “it’s okay,” when I heard it. The next three tracks follow in this mode. The potential for a good hard rock song is there with them but the keyboards drown them out and while none of those songs are in any way bad, I just don’t feel they live up to their potential. Of those four, “Chain Reaction” is my favourite.
It wouldn’t be a Journey album if there wasn’t at least one power ballad on it and “Faithfully” fits the bill perfectly. As far as Journey material goes, that song is as good or better than any of their other power ballads, save “Open Arms” but that has sentimental meaning for me. It is post ballad that the album begins to get interesting. “Edge of the Blade” is the first true rocker on the album for me. With that song, I finally start head banging away and Schon’s solo is just killer. The next track, “Troubled Child” is more in line with the first four songs but the difference is I think that song was meant to be more of a progressive/hard rock song. It does sound good and it leads to the last three songs taking the album out on a more harder sounding note. In fact, “Back Talk” might sound good metalized and “Rubicon” is a hard enough closer to almost cancel out my feelings about the first four songs.
- Separate Ways
- Send Her My Love
- Chain Reaction
- After the Fall
- Edge of the Blade
- Troubled Child
- Back Talk
Steve Perry- vocals
Neil Schon- guitar, vocals
Jonathan Cain- keyboards, vocals
Ross Valory- bass, vocals
Steve Smith- drums, percussion, vocals
Now I sense that some of you are flexing your fingers ready to respond about how commercially successful the “Frontiers” album was. I grant that and I have to give Journey total credit. For all my bitching about them being too commercial, they can still pull off a decent album with it. Nevertheless, I still have this craving to pop on “Wheel in the Sky” and crank it.
Next post: Joan Armatrading- The Key
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