Deadline Records CLP 1178-2
Produced by: Danny Parker

Released: January 15 / Website
Closest Relative: Satan
GENRE: Tribute

  1. Separate Ways
  2. Any Way You Want It
  3. Faithfully
  4. Don't Stop Believing
  5. Open Arms
  6. Girl Can't Help It
  7. Only The Young
  8. Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'
  9. Wheel In The Sky
  10. Be Good To Yourself
  11. Who's Crying Now
  12. Lights

It's a tough call.
Deadline Records and a couple of other labels have been churning out these tributes for a couple of years now, with varied results.
And in most cases, the same cast of characters are used on every tribute - with it now easily predictable to guess the line up of these releases.
Sure enough, it's no different with A Tribute To Journey.
What is different here, is the style of music being covered. The majority of these tributes - both the few good ones and the many half assed ones - have covered hard rock bands - Van Halen, Aerosmith, Poison, Whitesnake, UFO and Def Leppard to name a few.
This is the first time Deadline have covered an AOR act, yet they have failed in every sense to adapt their approach to fit that important difference.
The premise for this tribute comes from the label themselves. They say: "the featured vocalists offer their unique impressions of these songs..."
Ok, that warns us that the versions featured here are likely to feature some artistic license and may vary from what we are used to. That in essence, is exactly what a tribute should be anyway.
No so... What we have, is a range of hard rock vocalists, doing what they have done before, on more than several other tributes.
This album features safe versions of the original songs, performed as close to the original as possible - and that is where we strike the big problem of this tribute!
Rather than stick to their established style and range, most of the singers involved on this album have decided to do their best Steve Perry imitations.
Good Lord! Don't even go there people, as only a handful of great singers worldwide can match the lung capacity of the great Steve Perry and these guys are not part of that bunch.
The majority of the artists on this tribute are ok singers for what they do normally. Attempting the Perry cross-over leaves them floundering and out of breath.
More on each singer in the track description.
Musically, the sound is pretty good, clearly a few dollars spent on production, but they are no replacement for the originals and it might have been better if they had given the songs a twist, rather than attempt to replicate the originals.
The band features Kyle Kyle (Bang Tango) on Bass, Tracy Swider (Crush) on Guitars, Danny Wagner (Warrant) Keyboards and Danny Parker (Shake The Faith) Drums.
The guys have done as good a job as one could hope for, being that the focus of this album is really on the vocalists.
Track By Track:
Separate Ways features Hurricane's Kelly Hansen up front, leading off the album with clearly the best track and the best lead vocal performance. Kelly has always been a classy guy and a sensational singer and his vocal doesn't fail him here. It's not pure Perry, but that's something he has done right - stayed natural.
There is no surprise why Kelly is featured on 2 different tracks here, as he is a yard and a half above the next best.
Any Way You Want It features Circus Of Power's Alex Michell on vocals. Circus Of Power are normally a hard hitting hard rocking sleaze rock outfit, but for this cover, Alex has tamed his voice and puts in a fairly smooth vocal. But as listeners will quickly notice, his tone is about 4 octaves lower than Perry's. Many will be turned off in the first 3 seconds when they here this, but after repeated listens it's not quite the disaster you might first think.
I think it actually works Ok, but won't convince many.
Faithfully also isn't the natural disaster I was expecting, but that's not saying it's great either! The gruff sleaze rock vocalist Marq Torein of LA's Bulletboys is fronting this track - one of Journey's most emotional and successful ballads.
Given that this is a total and utter vocal mis-match, I was expecting the very worst from this version. What I got was actually one of the best vocals I have ever heard Marq do. Well done to him, but it's still a mis-match and well short of what was required to pull this song off.
To make things worse, the song goes to total and utter hell in the last 90 seconds as Marq ties to match the emotional high notes of Perry. Big mistake, as he doesn't come close and his voice falters, ruining the good work done to that point.
Don't Stop Believing features Eric Dover of Slash's Snakepit. Another vocalist that has a normally gruff, raspy vocal has shed his image for a smooth high-pitch Perry like performance. And credit again where is due, it's a hell of a job. Again, short of what's required if you are doing a straight impersonation of the original, but a vocal performance I didn't expect. Unfortunately on this track, the vocal seems more inspired than the music backing it. The songs feels somewhat lifeless, especially as the original is so powerful.
If there was a best part to this album, it is at this point where it is abandoned.
In Love/Hate, Jizzy Pearl had some character. His voice fitted the music and the attitude. But he isn't a great singer. As a Perry clone he is plain fucking awful. Open Arms is possibly Journey's most cherished power ballad and features a vocal second to none as far as execution. It features some of the highest notes Perry ever used. Why then, get the worst singer on this record to tackle the hardest track? This version is a nightmare and has the emotional content of a can of Spam. The closing portion of the song contains some truly dreadful vocals.
Yet another rough and tumble rock vocalist is Union's John Corabi. A good vocalist on his own material for sure, but well short of the mark on Girl Can't Help It. He does show another angle to his vocals, but they just don't fit the song. And once again, the musical backing seems sadly lacklustre, with poor harmony vocals and a terrible keyboard sound. This was, until now, a very soulful tune.
Only The Young is one of Journey better rock anthem's and you would expect this version to be one of the better tracks on this tribute. One of the more suitable at least. Again, not so.
Mark Knight of the band Worry Beads is up. Now Mark knows he can't match Perry, so doesn't even try - singing octaves below in a low, flat, uninspired vocal. The energy of the original is totally sapped from this performance. There is zero inspiration and no passion whatsoever involved.
Jason Bonham Band vocalist Chaz West is next up - tackling the older classic Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'. Flat, slow, boring, uninspiring, dull....terrible. Sorry to say, but this track has had a Hover taken to it, sucking all life from it.
Kelly Hansen to the rescue with Wheel In The Sky. A classic early rocker, Kelly again does his vocal best, bringing vocal energy to this track, sadly lacking in others.
Be Good To Yourself is just plain - laugh out loud funny. This track had me in stitches, but probably for the wrong reason.
Singer Ralph Saenz is normally frontman for the David Lee Roth era Van Halen tribute band Atomic Punks. On this classic Journey pop rocker, Ralph brings his Roth alter-ego to the song, doing his best classic Dave interpretation of the song. If you could possibly ever imagine David Lee Roth fronting Journey - here's a taster!!
Included is all the trademark David Lee Roth screams, yelps and cries, not to mention additional adlibbing and vocal re-arrangements.
Taken seriously this is really bad. Taken in the tongue in cheek fashion it is sung in, it should provide some entertainment over a few beers.
Who's Crying Now features Warrior Soul vocalist Kory Clarke. Again, Kory alters his approach to mirror the original vocal of Perry's. He does Ok until he tries some of the higher notes mid-song, which is truly cringe worthy. He just doesn't have the range for that.
Finishing the album is Lights, featuring Stevie Rachelle of Tuff. You wouldn't expect Journey to be Stevie's normal thing and it's probably not. He does an Ok version of this song, certainly not as bad as many others on the album. The mid song high notes are again a problem, but the song has a little more passion, which carries it across the line.
BOTTOM LINE: Woeful. Mainly due to the fact that these songs are held sacred to most that frequent this website and the legacy of Journey is held very passionately by their fans (me included).
Depending on your feelings towards Journey, this album will either be the very worst tribute album of all time, or just another case of a Tribute cash-in, done with the least amount of energy and trouble.
What pisses me off the most, is the label using the same old names and faces, when they could have tried something a little outside the circle of their previous experiences.
You would think that Deadline - with a 75 page catalogue of titles available would have the resources and capability of finding the phone numbers for Hugo, House Of Shakira, Tony Harnell, Jorn Lande and Urban Tale, to get them involved in this. It would have been nice to see some more melodic singers involved. How about Queensryche's Geoff Tate who tried out for Journey?
Oh well, they played it safe and paid the price. Hopefully they will get enough feedback to kick them in the ass. Mind you, it's too late for Journey and there can't be too many bands left out there without tributes to them....
ESSENTIAL FOR: Only die hard Journey fans that have to have everything.

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