Monday, January 05, 2009

#60 Journey, "Never Walk Away"

Love's a promise that he made
In his heart it still remains

"What?!" I hear you ask. "Journey are still releasing music? And you think it's good enough to make a (positive) year end list?"

Yup. With their Filipino lead singer, Arnel Pineda, roped in when the band heard him on YouTube, the group released a double album in 2008. It was preceded by two singles, the better one of which was "Never Walk Away."

Why is it better? For that matter, why does it deserve to be on this list? Because it's a shameless attempt to recreate the '80's sound of the peak of their commercial success. It's blatantly obvious why the group chose Arnel as their new lead singer: it's not perfect, but what he's doing here is essentially a pretty great Steve Perry impression. The Journey throwback sound doesn't stop there, though: musically, it's all straight from the past, the Journey sound your average American has heard on the radio so many times that he or she could hum "Any Way You Want It" or "Don't Stop Believing" without thinking about it.

It's not just a matter of a throwback sound, though--just because something sunds old doesn't make it good. But, oh, "Never Walk Away" is, enough so to sit comfortably next to the old Journey classics. Sure, if you hate those, you'll hate this, too, and the chorus never fully soars, never demands that Arnel really let go and sing for all he's worth, but he does get to do a classic-style multi-syllable extension of a word, here adding an "ay-ee-ay-ee-ay" onto the end of "away."

I honestly couldn't believe it when I heard this song for the first time. Was this lightning in a bottle or had the group truly been capable all these years of creating something this great and just chosen not to in the name of group evolution and changing musical trends? Are all our '80's groups secretly still capable of creating amazing music in the style of their past successes but just choose not to? It surely can't be, but the sheer effortlessness with which Journey knocked this song out--and just so casually, too, with so little big production being made about it--is enough to make me wonder. All other '80's groups on the comeback trail, you've been warned: there's no reason you shouldn't be able to make music as good as yours of the past.

Find it on: Revelation


Thnairg said...

Holy crap, Girl, you sure can surprise me sometimes! Journey, of all artists! That's not to say I disagree with their place in your countdown ... far from it, in fact ... I was suitably impressed by their latest album, and would have completely missed it if I hadn't seen the story on "CBS Sunday Morning" back when the disc came out. Great to see that a "youngster" is turning on to real '80s bands and not just new '80s-inspired ones! :-)


Poster Girl said...

Ah, so the album is good? I haven't heard it yet! I really wasn't sure that it would be. That's a good point--and I love it when I can get just as excited about music from an actual '80's group as from some modern '80's-inspired artist.

Thnairg said...

Oh yeah, it's worth getting all right ... partly 'cause you get two CDs and a concert DVD for a great price. And the second CD is a "greatest hits" collection (well, sort-of ... they're re-recordings with Arnel on lead vocals). I'm not crazy about patronizing the only store that sells it (its name starts with a "W"), but then I guess we're all guilty of something we're not proud of. ;-)