Journey is the kind of band that inspires intense emotion. Some people hate them, some people love them. Very few people manage to stay indifferent to them. Known for their soulful (some say slushy) ballads, their massive choruses, and their consummate musicianship, this is a band that defines AOR. Their line up may have experienced multiple changes over the years (in fact, the only original member to still remain with the group is lead guitarist Neal Schon), but their classic hits remain a constant source of pleasure… at least to those who fall on the ‘love’ side of the debate. But which of those hits rank as the best Journey songs of all time? Find out as we reveal the ten finest moments from the band’s back catalog.
10. Girl Can’t Help It
As loudersound.com writes, the production of the 1986 song “Girl Can’t Help It” might be very much a product of its time, but there’s enough good stuff happening elsewhere to make it one of the band’s most enduring classics. Steve Perry’s vocals are a thing of beauty, while Neal Schon’s heavy guitar riffs cut through Jonathan Cain’s velvety keyboards perfectly.
When Perry joined the band in 1977, he meant business. He may have been recruited as a lead singer and frontman, but his talent as a writer soon became evident, as seen in the 1978 song, “Infinity.” It may have charted at a disappointing 68, but its soulful lyrics and Perry’s shining vocals have since tuned it into a concert staple.
8. In My Lonely Feeling / Conversations
Before Journey decided that soulful ballads and power anthems would get them more album sales, they were a jazz fusion band with hints of progressive rock. Some of their earlier work has been criticized as self-indulgent, but there’s still plenty of gems in among the dross. Taken from their 1975 album “In The Beginning,” “In My Lonely Feeling / Conversations” is a psychedelic number that, as recording-history.com notes, has the kind of memorable riff that will have you bobbing your head for days.
7. Lovin,’ Touchin,’ Squeezin’
Big ballads may be what Journey has become best known for, but this is a band with roots in jazz fusion. When it wants to pull out a funky groove, it can, as demonstrated by the electrifying “Lovin,’ Touchin,’ Squeezin’.” As one of the highlights of the 1979 “Evolution” album, “Lovin,’ Touchin,’ Squeezin'” features soaring vocals, heavy guitars, and several moments that would convince even the most committed Journey hater of the band’s merits. As the first Journey single to reach the Top 40 in the United States, “Lovin,’ Touchin,’ Squeezin'” occupies a special place in the hearts of fans, and for good reason.
When Cain wrote “Faithfully,” he was channeling his emotions as a rocker on the road with a wife and family at home. The result is wistful, poignant, utterly human, and a timely reminder of Journey’s soulful side The melody, piano backing, and plaintive vocals combine to create what some critics have described as the greatest power ballad ever recorded. In the event, the song outlived the marriage it was written to celebrate: within just four years of it reaching number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, Cain and his wife had divorced.
5. Any Way You Want It
The Thin Lizzy-inspired track “Any Way You Want It” may not have performed as well as some of Journey’s later singles (it peaked at number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart), but since its release in 1980, it’s become one of the band’s most popular and revered tracks. Featuring a storytelling style reminiscent of Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott along with gliding guitar riffs, it marked a departure from the band’s usual style, but a very welcome one nonetheless.
4. Open Arms
As ultimateclassicrock.com (ultimateclassicrock.com/journey-songs/) writes, the melody for “Open Arms” was pitched by Cain during his time with rock group, the Babys, but singer John Waite decided it was too sentimental to work. Initially, Journey felt the same, with Schon, in particular, dismissing it as too lightweight. Fortunately, Cain won the toss. The track became one of the band’s most commercially successful songs of all time, holding the number 2 spot on the Billboard 100 for 6 consecutive weeks and wining a permanent place in the hearts of Journey fans around the world.
3. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
The year was 1983. Journey was riding high on the success of “Escape,” their most commercially successful album to date. Expectations for their follow-up album, “Frontiers,” were riding high. It didn’t disappoint. Its opening track, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” is a hugely enjoyable, powerhouse of a song that features Cain, Perry, and Schon bouncing off each other’s strengths and intertwining to masterful effect.
2. Wheel In The Sky
By 1977, Journey (and quite possibly, their record label) were getting sick of poor album sales. Determined to move the band in a more commercial direction, they hired a new frontman in the form of Robert Fleischman. Differences between Fleischman and the band’s management would ultimately lead to his departure within the year, but his time with Journey wasn’t completely wasted. The proof? “Wheel in the Sky,” a dazzling little number co-written by Fleischman. Featuring a dynamic guitar groove and a heavier beat than we were used to from Journey, it ranks as one of the highlights on “Infinity.”
1. Don’t Stop Believin’
When it came to the number one spot, there was never any real competition. “Don’t Stop Believin'” isn’t just a song. It’s not just an anthem. It’s a seminal moment from the 1980s that managed to make the decade everyone would rather forget that little bit brighter. If you ever come across someone who says they’ve never heard it, don’t trust them. They’re either lying or have never turned on a radio in their life. Either way, they’re best avoided. “Don’t Stop Believin'” is peerless. It’s one of the few songs that everyone, whether they care to admit it or not, likes. The vocals, the musicality, the simplicity…. whatever it is, it makes us happy, and for as long as it does, we’ll keep on belivin’.