With our backs against the wall…

Going back to yesterday’s post on Neal Schon’s “I’ll Cover You”, a wonderful companion song to ICY is one that was never done by Journey, Heart’s “Allies”– written by Jonathan Cain.

YouTube Video (embedding was disabled for this one)

Lyric link

Heart put the song on 1983’s Passionworks, right around the same time as the Frontiers album. For me, it’s always been obvious that Jonathan intended it for Journey. Stylistically, vocally, musically, you can hear what the song should have sounded like; Heart does a serviceable, if lackluster job (ye gods, the video is even lame, and for the 80s, that’s going a ways) of imitating Jonathan’s keyboard style & Steve Perry’s vocal signature. This is one song I mourn for never being done the way Jonathan apparently intended it, yet the song shines despite what Heart does to it.

Now the timeframe on Allies puts it well before the ROR-and-after situation noted in Monday’s post. However, those problems had their roots well before ROR; there were quite a few articles & rumors going around about Journey not getting along, & starting to fracture, fueled by various solo projects, and there were hints of drug abuse (I’ve got an article — coming in the next updates to the HSOJ — about Neal getting arrested for cocaine); even Herbie Herbert’s been very forthright about the problems in the band.

And here, you have an earlier song that is very similar in theme and message to Neal’s “I’ll Cover You”: stick together, we’re allies, we back each other up, we help each other. Yet from ’83 (Allies release) to ’88 (ICY’s release), we saw not only a long hiatus from Journey in between Frontiers & ROR, but also solo projects that foreshadowed the first breakup of the band (Perry’s Street Talk, Smith’s Vital Information, Neal’s many collaborations). This period also saw a bit of drama that tends to get overlooked due to -ite-fandom’s over-focus on Perry’s personal life — Jonathan breaking up with his first wife, Tane’ McClure (who’s gone from attempted recording artist — anyone remember Holdin’ On? — to soft-core porn star. A shame that Faithfully got wasted on her.) With fractures splitting apart what had been a solid musical foundation, it’s no wonder that both Jonathan & Neal made their own musical pleas for unity.

So — Neal’s ICY may have been directed to a specific person. Jonathan’s “Allies”, though, appears directed towards the band as a whole, coming as it did during the Frontiers era when Journey was still nominally together. However, Allies may also have been directed at two specific people in Journey, Neal Schon & Steve Perry, and for much the same reasons that I noted that ICY was directed at Steve Perry.


And for those who DON’T remember Holdin’ On — OMG, YouTube has EVERYTHING, I swear:

holy frakkin’ shite, I’m scarred for life now. Both Jonathan and his brother Mugs appear in this video.

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