Indulging My Indulgences

The rock band Journey debuted their new lead singer Arnel Pineda at a concert in Chile two nights ago. How did the dude do in the “Can he sing like Steve Perry” sweepstakes? Judge for yourself (note: I found the volume level here a little low, let it play and adjust your own volume levels to taste):

My thoughts? Not bad at all. Although personally, I’m less interested in all the old songs than idea there might be some new ones. I know I’m in the minority there, especially because it’s Journey, a band people are content to hear the same dozen songs from over and over again. But you know, if you keep doing that, after a certain point you just become your own cover band, and Journey’s been at that certain point for the last decade. Time to move forward.

46 thoughts on “Indulging My Indulgences

  1. I’m really torn by this sort of thing. The first guy they got to replace Perry, if I recall correctly, could also sing exactly like he did. In much the same way that Judas Priest hired former cover band lead Tim “Ripper” Owens – he had a good look, though a little different from Halford, but could sing *exactly* like him.

    I can see the value. Good lord knows, when Van Halen hired Sammy Hagar to front the band, he wasn’t going to do some of the same acoustic leaps that Diamond Dave was famous for. It paid off for them, but left earlier fans dissatisfied. I wold argue the same thing happened when Queen added Bad Company’s Paul Rodgers to the lineup. You knew that, no matter how much he loved the material he was going to be performing, he’d be no Freddie Mercury.

    Where I’m torn is, what’s the right course of action for a band when they lose, for whatever reason, the voice that makes them distinct? Should they hunt down someone with the exact same voice, or should they try to move on and hope that fans will still want to hear their old songs sung by a new voice?

  2. jas: Where I’m torn is, what’s the right course of action for a band when they lose, for whatever reason, the voice that makes them distinct? Should they hunt down someone with the exact same voice, or should they try to move on and hope that fans will still want to hear their old songs sung by a new voice?

    I think one of the most successful transitions was AC/DC after the death of Bon Scott. Unlike Sammy Hagar who sounds nothing like David Lee Roth, Brian Johnson had a similar vocal style to Scott. But he was still distinctive enough to not be a Bon Scott wannabe.

    The result was a lead singer who could hold his own on the earlier songs, but still be able to bring his own sound to their new songs. No doubt Back in Black would have been just as successful had Bon Scott lived. The fact that it was their best selling album is a testament to Johnson being able to fill Scott’s shoes.

  3. As for Van Halen, I think it’s interesting to note that their two best-selling albums were from the Dave years (Van Halen and 1984) while all their #1 albums were from the “Van Hagar” era (5150, OU812, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and Balance). They also had far more top-ten hits during Hagar’s tenure.

    It also seems like rock stations play more songs from the original lineup than they do from the Hagar albums (even though they recorded more songs and had more hits with Hagar).

    So how do you decide which version was more “successful”?

  4. I would imagine the band was more financially successful under Hagar, at the very least; he’s noted how just before he joined the group how they were amazed how much more money he had than them, even though he was less popular. Money management. It’s key.

  5. His voice is uncannily Perry, more so than the last replacements.

    As for coming up with new material, there is a sentiment among some aging musicians that once you’ve created a very successful institution, you should stick to it so as not to possibly taint the legacy. In other words: there is no need to fix what isn’t broke. If you’ve already climbed to the summit, you plant your flag and hold your territory, because there is but one direction from there.

  6. Jack Kincaid:

    Oh, I know. And they may be right; certainly the members of Journey could get by playing their hits from 25 and 30 years ago for another 20 years, until they’re too old to tour anymore. But I want new stuff (that’s good, relative to the standards of Journey — which leaves out most of the last two albums). Call me selfish.

  7. For my ear (and eye,) the new guy is adequate, which is exactly what Journey was looking for. I would not look for new music, as Schon & co. have been comfortable in the role of Journey cover band for quite some time.

    @ William Schafer #1: Jeff Scott Soto. Prior to Journey, Soto also sang half of the lead vocals for the soundtrack to the movie “Rockstar,” formed the popular 70s cover band Boogie Knights, and was the lead singer for two early Yngwie Malmsteen albums. Interesting that Rockstar is another connection to the Judas Priest vocalist replacement story, then Soto goes on to join Journey in a similar story arc.

    John– Did I ever mention that Soto is a friend of a friend? I have subsequently learned more about Journey than I ever wanted to know.

  8. Re: nos. 3, 4, 5

    Another example from back in the day: Genesis. Individual opinions of quality and evolution notwithstanding, fans old and new certainly found Phil Collins a palatable replacement for Peter Gabriel.

    As for the current incarnation of “Queen,” my brother tried to get me to a concert in Cleveland last year and I said meh. I actually have a low tolerance for nostalgia. To paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen: I was a Queen fan. I saw Queen twice in their heyday. Two guys from Queen, a guy from Bad Company and a guy from Blue Oyster Cult are not “Queen.” :D

  9. I do not know if I agree with it necessarily. As a fan, one naturally concurs with “more”, but then might the same concerns linger about ‘tainting the legacy’ if it doesn’t measure up? I know that’s a matter of perception (and presumably a majority vote, as humans tend to define reality), but saying it did occur, then the legend ends on a sour note–with the FNG on the mic becoming the fall guy probably, even if he didn’t write a note of the new material.

    Still, I’m with you. I had wished that The Police would have continued generating new music after Synchronicity, for example. Infighting in the band notwithstanding, Sting’s rationalization was that it’s better to end at the very top than somewhere in the downward curve. Which is fundamentally the same thinking.

  10. It sounds like he’s got more in his voice than he is using. That could let them push themselves away from their rut. I’d like to hear that. Even if they fail, it would be in an interesting way.

  11. I don’t think there’s a magic formula for replacing a distinctive voice. A classic case study might be Genesis: when Peter Gabriel left, the band auditioned several people before “promoting” Phil Collins, who had sung on a few songs. Regardless of how you feel about the respective eras (the last Genesis album I own is The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway and I won’t have anything after under my roof), nobody can deny the band was more commercially successful with Collins at the mike. But when Genesis tried to replace Collins after he finally left… well, how many of you even knew that the last Genesis album was Calling All Stations and that it featured some dude named Ray Wilson on vox (hell, I had to look up the name of the record)?

    Point being, sometimes a change works and sometimes it doesn’t. Pink Floyd replaced Syd Barrett with David Gilmour and–much to the surprise and even dismay of some critics–went on to become international superstars. Van Halen replaced Sammy Hagar with Gary Cherone and it was just sad. You just never know.

  12. Chain Reaction… wow. I really dig that song – I tend to like the heavier/bluesier not-so-commercial Journey. :)

    I’d sure like to hear another Journey album at the all-around quality level of Departure… but I don’t think Gregg Rolie’s coming back, and Jonathan Cain, while an excellent songwriter, just doesn’t have the old-school soul that Rolie took away with him.

    This singer – nailin’ it. Except for the slight non-native-English-speaker touches, his voice is almost identical to Perry’s. Good job, dude.

    I agree about Journey becoming their own cover band. Yep.

    Van Halen is still far better with Dave, I saw them back in November. Not as physical a live show as back in the day, but they still got it. But I digress… :)

  13. Interesting as they are, I think most of these cases are different from what Journey face. Genesis, AC/DC, Van Halen, and Pink Floyd were either early in their careers or near their peak.

    Journey faces a dilemma much more like, say, R.E.M. in finding out how to be relevant when well past their biggest successes. Can they do interesting new stuff? Should they even try? R.E.M.’s latest effort was pretty forgettable, but they’re not doing covers of themselves either.

  14. “Pink Floyd replaced Syd Barrett with David Gilmour and–much to the surprise and even dismay of some critics–went on to become international superstars.”

    Did you forget Roger Waters? Roger *and* David replaced Syd, and *then* David replaced Roger when they could no longer stand the sight of each other.

  15. malren:

    Waters was already in the group, whereas Gilmour was brought in as a musical replacement for Barrett. Although it is true Waters and Gilmour shared singing and songwriting duties which (IIRC) had originally fell to Barrett.

  16. I dunno. Listening to it, I’m fine. Watching it, it sort of seems more Karaoke than Journey.

    Maybe it’s me, but the front man tends to BE the band – in most cases.

    I’d be interested to hear new songs from them, because they would be more meaningful and show how the band grows with the influence of the new singer.

    I do think there’s a limit to how many members you can replace before it’s a new band all together…

  17. I do think there’s a limit to how many members you can replace before it’s a new band all together…

    How do you think of Santana, then? (And, hey! Even relevant to Journey.)

  18. It’s different if the band is named after the band’s leader. Then every other band member knows they are expendable.

  19. I guess I am older but only one of the Temptations is a Temptation …Otis Williams. There are some other groups from that era where the entire group has been replaced (no, I am NOT a Menudo fan). I was lucky enough to see most of the real Temptations in a concert decades ago.

  20. I think you have to treat the old Motown groups differently — most of them were thrown together and given songs to sing. More than a few of them got screwed over too.

  21. “Waters was already in the group, whereas Gilmour was brought in as a musical replacement for Barrett. Although it is true Waters and Gilmour shared singing and songwriting duties which (IIRC) had originally fell to Barrett.”

    Point taken. I just sort of read it wrong, but I totally see what was being said now. :)

  22. Hmm, Pineda can not only sing a lot like Steve Perry, he even looks a bit like him. Looks like a good match.

    We’ve had good examples of bands in this thread that replaced their lead singer and went on to better things. Another of my favorite examples is Marillion, which replaced Fish with Steve Hogarth, and their “sound” evolved thereby, but both Fish-era and h-era Marillion have excellent tracks, and they’re still going strong. When they perform live, they don’t perform many Fish-era tracks anymore, but there are so many good h-era tracks, it’s hard to miss them.

    Another good example is Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish, who fired their lead singer, soprano Tarja Turunen, in 2005, and have replaced her with Swedish vocalist Anette Olzon for their most recent album. They do perform a number of older tracks on tour, and, while the band did have to drop the key on a couple of them (“Wishmaster” and “Sleeping Sun” being examples), Anette does a decent job singing them. I’ve seen videos, and I can hear her just singing her heart out on those tracks, as well as others like “Nemo,” “Dark Chest of Wonders,” and “Ever Dream” (that last is the song she used to audition for the job, and is probably her “signature” Tarja-era track). However, they just can’t do some songs anymore, such as their cover of “The Phantom of The Opera,” because Anette simply doesn’t have Tarja’s vocal range. The new songs, of course, were Anette’s to begin with, and it also doesn’t hurt that their bassist, Marco Hietala, is taking on a more active role in the vocals department; he has a great “power metal” voice. I’m looking forward to seeing them live when they come through Denver in May.

  23. There were some divided loyalties when Dennis DeYoung stopped touring with Styx. From what I’ve read on the Styx fan list, most folks have embraced Lawrence Gowan, who can handle the classic Dennis songs (like “Come Sail Away”) really well, but who was also an established musician and songwriter before he joined Styx.

    Styx has always been a bit of a special case in a couple of respects – they’ve always had multiple front men (during the heyday, Dennis DeYoung, James Young, and Tommy Shaw), and when they’ve brought in new members, they’ve generally been multitalented (Glen Burtnick filled in the Tommy Shaw role for a while, then took over bass responsibilities when Chuck Panozzo was on hiatus; like Gowan, Glen had also had solo albums and varied gigs on his CV).

    At this point, JY’s the only member who goes all the way back to the early days, but to me, it really does still seem like Styx, and I really like a lot of their new songs. “One With Everything” rocks.

  24. A discussion about Journey. Who’d a thunk it?

    I saw Genesis twice in London in ’72 and the Lambs tour in Houston in ’74 or ’75, and they were nothing like their later incarnations. Nor is Gabriel much like those days either. People tend to forget the Hackett era Genesis. ‘Different’ survives when some thread of creativity remains. Art rock evolved to AOR ’80s schlock, although I bought the albums in the day. People also forget Gabriel was stuck without airplay after he left the band. I seem to recall the KLBJ here in Austin was one of the few stations that played his first solo album. Creative growth can be impoverishing. I saw him on the Shock the Monkey tour in a not completely full venue that normally hosted city wide garage sales.

    The band that really was left high and dry was the James gang although they had some interesting replacements, Tommy Bolan among them. But Joe Walsh was sort of impossible to replace.

    Journey seems to be more of a band trapped in amber. The new lead is very good, but it has been a very long time since new material caught my ear.

  25. Trapped in amber is right. Journey seems to be doing everything it can to make sure it sounds like 1980’s Journey, nothing more, nothing less. I expect they’ll continue on this way until they finally retire.

  26. All this talk about lead singers, and no Black Sabbath? Ozzy and Dio were totally different, but they’re both still “Black Sabbath”. I don’t think that third guy, Ian whatshisname, really counts though.

  27. I will refrain from discussing Journey, who I cannot stand for some unknown(to me) reason, but the most recent Black Sabbath album I bought was Heaven And Hell. I liked RJD from Rainbow, but I didn’t (and don’t) think that Sabbath post-Osbourne are the same band.

    I would say that Osbourne/Iommi are rather like Jagger/Richards. Each is good, together something magical happens.

  28. For me, Journey has always epitomized what’s wrong with the music industry – poor lyrics, insipid music, and a general ideal that originality is for losers. I’ve never heard the tiniest bit of energy or real artistry in their songs, and even the solos feel like they’ve come out of a can. The lyric I hear over and over again is:

    “Some will win,
    Some will lose,
    Some were born to sing the blues”

    I think they copied it off the back of a cereal box.

    Alex

  29. “For me, Journey has always epitomized what’s wrong with the music industry – poor lyrics, insipid music, and a general ideal that originality is for losers. I’ve never heard the tiniest bit of energy or real artistry in their songs, and even the solos feel like they’ve come out of a can.”

    -Alex

    You do realize we’re talking about Journey and not Boston or Kansas, right?

  30. It’s different if the band is named after the band’s leader. Then every other band member knows they are expendable.

    And yet Santana performed around without Carlos Santana for a while. (I don’t know if it was formally dubbed a “tour”.)

  31. I think the talk have gone too far…I think everyone’s already drunk…going back to Journey…The concert in Viña del mar was a success lest you all forget.

  32. Re: 34.

    Yup, Dan, I sure do. None of the three bands is any great shakes, though Kansas did put out one album I really liked in high school, (though I must admit I never re-bought it on CD) and the frequent use of a violin as a lead instrument puts Kansas a cut above in creative terms.

    I do not deign to notice Boston.

  33. One of the best Lead Singer leaves and the band goes on transitions is the Band Dream Theater. They didn’t even try to replace the original singer with a like voice. However when James Lebrie sings those original songs he makes them his own.

    The band doesn’t get the credit it deserves, because they are not radio friendly for the most part (average song length is 6 minutes).

    I would love to get some new Journey, but PLEASE no more of this dishwater repeat of the Classic Journey, if they are going to move forward. MOVE forward!

  34. Re: The Floyd (for anyone who cares)–

    Syd Barrett wrote nearly all of Pink Floyd’s material 1965-1967. Then he started going a little crazy, or his craziness became a liability; the band brought in David Gilmour as a musical/vocal replacement because Gilmour was an old friend of Barrett’s and has a knack for being able to imitate guitar styles (on top of being a brilliant and distinctive guitar player in his own right, I might add).

    The band hoped to keep Barrett onboard as a songwriter, but that didn’t work out, and Roger Waters and Richard Wright took over songwriting duties. By the band’s third album (More), Waters was finding his own voice as a lyricist and Gilmour was finding his place as a full member (as opposed to merely a Syd proxy).

    From More (1969) to Wish You Were Here (1975), Pink Floyd was a group effort with Gilmour, Waters and Wright writing most of the band’s music and Waters writing most of the band’s lyrics. But the band’s post-Dark Side Of The Moon (1973) success destabilized the band’s work habits and relationship with fans–Waters became more aggressive in “leading” the band, Gilmour became more aggressive in defending his role within the band, and Wright became marginalized and was forced to quit during The Wall sessions (1979-80).

    Waters announced the band was done in ’84 (IIRC; might have been ’83), Gilmour announced they weren’t, there were lawsuits and two Pink Floyd studio albums (one mediocre, the other excellent) and successful tours with a band made up of Gilmour, a reinstated Wright, and Nick Mason (who quietly managed to be the only one to continuously be a member of Pink Floyd from the band’s formation to whatever they are right now). Then there was Live-8, and a sweet reunion of the classic lineup that may have been the second-to-last Pink Floyd concert ever depending on which member you ask and what day you ask on. (Gilmour, Mason and Wright performed Pink Floyd’s first single live at a Barrett tribute concert last year, but without officially using the Floyd monniker; Waters performed seperately at the same concert).

    There, more than you ever wanted to know.

  35. A fact that a friend brought up to me awhile back (me being a Journey fan and he being an AVID Queensryche fan) was that Geoff Tate, lead singer for Queensryche, auditioned for the Steve Perry part first, but did not get the gig. Now he would have been a good replacement for Steve Perry and had this occured, may have taken the band to new places. As it turns out, the band replace Perry with Perry wannabes and have forever gone the way of being stuck in their past. Queensryche, however, continues to put new music out every so often.
    I also think that Journey had tapped themselves out by the early 90’s. Thus the departure of Perry. Looks like he is the smart one here.
    Don’t get me wrong, I still like Journey as is, but would never go to see them live

  36. Whoever will fill in as the frontman for Journey. they will always sell. there will always be a huge demand for them to perform anywhere. people around the world will still be paying to see them perform live. And choosing a guy like Arnel Pineda will keep them the way they are always recognized. Journey is a global institution. people around the world, young or old, are familiar with their great songs. Now, weather you love or hate ‘em, the world will always embrace them. And in all honesty, the world knows them way more than they know about pink floyd, van halen, judas priest, queensryche and such.

  37. Don’t stop believing, begotten. It’s only a matter of time before the world gives Journey their due and elevates them above Pink Floyd, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Black Sabbath, Genesis, Santana, AC/DC, Queen, The Police and R.E.M.

    Happily, I’ll be dead when that happens.

  38. After watching the various Pineda youtube videos (Of The Zoo), I have to say: he can’t just do Perry. He can do anyone (Jim Morrison, Sting, Bryan Adams, Don Henley, the list goes on). Stunning.

    (And apparently, there will be a new album.)

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