Steve Perry found himself back in the drivers seat for 1994 ‘For The Love Of Strange Medicine’.
Written by: gdmonline
ARTIST: Steve Perry
ALBUM: For The Love Of Strange Medicine
SERIAL: CK 44287
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Steve Perry – vocals * Guitars – Lincoln Brewster, Mike Landau * Bass – Larry Kimpel, Mike Porcaro, Phil Brown, Tim Miner * Keyboards – Paul Taylor, Tim Miner * Drums – Moyes Lucas * Backing Vocals – Steve Perry, Tim Miner, Carmen Carter, Alexander Brown, Jean McLain, Moyes Lucas, Lincoln Brewster, Paul Taylor
TRACK LISTING: 01 You Better Wait * 02 Young Hearts Forever * 03 I Am * 04 Stand Up (Before It’s Too Late) * 05 For The Love Of Strange Medicine * 06 Donna Please * 07 Listen To Your Heart * 08 Tuesday Heartache * 09 Missing You * 10 Somewhere There’s Hope * 11 Anyway
WEBLINKS: Site Link
During the early 80’s, Journey front-man Steve Perry was compelled to release a solo album, showcasing more of his soul-blues roots. In the meantime, guitarist Neal Schon was busying himself with his Jan Hammer association during 1981/82, but he also decided to join a side-project called H.S.A.S the following year, featuring Sammy Hagar Kenny Aaronson and Michael Shrieve. Annoyed by this turn of events, Perry released ‘Street Talk’ in 1984, which spawned the megahit single ‘Oh Sherrie’.
Despite all the crises going on with Journey before and after the 1986 ‘Raised On Radio’ tour, Perry pulled the plug on the band during 1987, and opted out of music for seven years. After a long hiatus, which saw Michael Bolton usurp his crown as the ‘King Of The Ex Rockstar Crooners’, Steve Perry found himself back in the drivers seat for 1994 ‘For The Love Of Strange Medicine’. The album could best be described as a therapeutic and holistic exercise for him, perhaps also, cleansing, considering all that had gone on before.
A new line-up was put together, featuring unknown guitar monster Lincoln Brewster and ex Winger member Paul Taylor, among others. The material was relatively new, and did not feature any songs from Perry’s unreleased second solo album ‘Against The Wall’. There is a good mix of tunes here that will appeal to both sides of Perry’s fan base, with Brewster doing his bit to outwail the likes of Schon and Dann Huff at their own game, an impressive find he is.
No fluffy ballads to open up the account. It’s the big sounding splendour of ‘You Better Wait’. Over-produced? Yeah probably, with huge vocal overdubs and some sharp guitar-playing from Brewster. ‘Young Hearts Forever’ races along with youthful vigour, while staying both melodious and urgent. The Phil Lynott memorial on the songs closing lyric I remember I remember’ is an inspired selection from Perry and deserves kudos.
‘I Am’ is the first of the ballads and despite the heartfelt intent, this is probably too soppy. Overuse of the words ‘forgiveness’ and ’emptiness’ didn’t help. Back on course is the superb ‘ Stand Up (Before It’s Too Late)’. This song is classy, it builds up carefully and retains its energy without clocking off. Similarly, the title track starts out slow and measured, but by the end it too is powered along by big guitars and even bigger (soaring) vocals from Perry.
‘Donna Please’ is a far better ballad, the vocal more impassioned, the lyrics less despairing and we get a fiery solo. The guys get to rock out more on ‘Listen To Your Heart’, it has some unusual flavours within but still good. Paul Taylor has obviously ripped a page or two out of the musical book written by Seal. Those voice-chiff synth patches he uses on ‘Tuesday Heartache’ is straight out of Seal‘s hit single ‘Crazy’, not to detract from the song though, one of the highlights of this album.
Two of the last three tracks are fairly wimpy. ‘Missing You’ and ‘Anyway’ are a crooners delight, while ‘Somewhere There’s Hope’ has a flair for the dramatic, and though its roots are R&B and the overall tempo is on the slow side, the song has brooding power throughout, helped yet again by Brewster’s six-stringed heroics.
Despite the initial reviews for this album being less than enthusiastic back in 1994 (from what I remember and from what I read), I believe it has aged well. Most of the complaints seemed to be based around the notion of there being too many ballads. I think the mix is about even, and certainly the stronger rocking songs stand out more for me.
Perry even took the band out on the road for a few dates supported by Canadian singer Sass Jordan. Buoyed by this overdue flurry of activity, Perry kicked on with his former Journey bandmates and reunited for 1996’s ‘Trial By Fire’. That, and the events which followed after (regarding his injury and permanent departure from the band) are another story to be written and read. In the meantime, if any of you are contemplating tracking this down, it is well worth the investment.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)