‘Raised On Radio’ might not win any polls for favourite Journey album, but it has a lot to offer for those of us who love AOR.
Written by: Lee South Africa
ALBUM: Raised On Radio
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Steve Perry – vocals * Neal Schon – guitars, vocals * Jonathan Cain – keyboards, guitars, vocals * Randy Jackson – bass, vocals * Mike Baird – drums, percussion
TRACK LISTING: 01 Girl Can’t Help It * 02 Positive Touch * 03 Suzanne * 04 Be Good To Yourself * 05 Once You Love Somebody * 06 Happy To Give * 07 Raised On Radio * 08 I’ll Be Alright Without You * 09 It Could Have Been You * 10 The Eyes Of A Woman * 11 Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever
WEBLINKS: Site Link
By the time Journey got around to following 1983’s ‘Frontiers’ album, there’d been three years of friction, drama and frustration. Discontent over Steve Perry’s solo success, Perry’s mother being seriously ill, and the departure of Steve Smith and Ross Valory all combined to make for a turbulent atmosphere in the Journey camp.
There were also rumours of a rift developing between Schon and Perry over the direction Journey were taking, with Cain trying to play peacemaker (as he did in The Babys between John Waite and the rest of the band).
In the end Perry got his way and Journey drifted into a more soul/pop tinged AOR direction, under his direction and production. In the 80’s a gap of three years between albums was a long time to be away, and it showed when ‘Raised On Radio’ reached nowhere near the multi-platinum heights of ‘Escape’ and ‘Frontiers’. Having said all this, there’s still plenty to enjoy.
‘Girl Can’t Help It’ was not quite the dynamic album opener you’d expect, but there’s enough midtempo grace and trademark Journey melody in the chorus, resulting in a top 20 hit. ‘Positive Touch’ is far more urgent and convincing, combining a 70’s soul feeling with the mid 80’s sound. The saxophone parts are set against Perry’s soaring vocals in the closing section, something pretty special really.
‘Suzanne’ joins in the mid-tempo parade with considerable style, again getting the best out of Perry’s soulful delivery. The Schon solo’s fluid intensity is not to be missed. ‘Be Good To Yourself’ is more like ‘Frontiers’ era Journey – uptempo and urgent, the hooks are crisp and decisive, the chorus rivalling any AOR anthem before or since.
‘Once You Love Somebody’ returns to the soul flavoured AOR found on much of this record, an enjoyable enough semi-ballad but hardly one of the highlights. ‘Happy To Give’ is similar but more rewarding and heartfelt, apparently Steve Perry became quite obsessed with this one, re-recording it several times.
The title track ties the whole album together, following a lyrical route through a myriad of rock ‘n roll classics. It borrows famous lines and song titles in an affectionate tribute to the music of rock’s bygone decades and the great radio stations who championed such music. It’s all pretty stirring and the chorus just steamrollers you with a wall of vocals in harmony.
‘I’ll Be Alright Without You’ provides soothing relief by comparison, working it’s magic at a more sedate mid-tempo. It’s easy to hear why this is one of the more celebrated choruses in AOR – melodies and harmonies to embellish any coffee drinking experience. ‘It Could Have Been You’ is fairly nondescript, not shining in any particular department, not quite filler but close – But …
‘The Eyes Of A Woman’ is a different matter, this time showcasing just why Perry is the most loved AOR vocalist: nobody can soar up there in quite the same way or with quite the same intensity and passion in delivery. ‘Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever’ was the last Journey song for 10 years, and most thought it would be the last ever. A smouldering, soulful ballad with all the yearning lyrical bits and the right chord changes to match! Perry’s vocals and Schon’s guitar both get to stretch out and soar, a fitting end to Journey’s 80’s era.
‘Raised On Radio’ is a fine record in retrospect, but it was severely hurt by the long delay before it’s release. Their being reluctant to film promotional MTV videos for the singles didn’t help either, but it still went platinum (over 1 million). ‘Raised On Radio’ might not win any polls for favourite Journey album, but it has a lot to offer for those of us who love AOR.
Girl Can’t Help It
I’ll Be Alright Without You
Why Can’t This Night Go On Forever
Entire Album (Select Tracks)