(edit: the prior review of the “new stuff” CD of Revelation. It’s good, see the review)
In a burst of goodwill on the sheer high of the “new stuff” on the new Journey “Revelation” CD, I went ahead and loaded the second CD, the re-records of the classic hits, onto my iPod.
One of these days, I’m gonna learn to listen to my first instincts.
The first thing I will note: none of what I’m about to rant on is Arnel Pineda’s fault. His voice is clear; his vocals ring like a bell (as I said in the earlier post, he combines the best of Perry & Augeri). Listening to his voice was the best thing of the re-records. He’s a newcomer, not the pro with tons of hit records under his belt; he’s granted a pass on this one.
However, the rest of Journey needs to be whacked upside their collective heads with baseball bats for those re-records.
I don’t care if the re-records were done just because that’s what WalFart wanted. You don’t do a half-assed job, you just DON’T. You ESPECIALLY don’t do a half-assed job on the classics that you’re known for, that everyone & their mother/father/sister/brother knows & loves & listens to. Yeah, I’m looking at YOU, Jonathan Cain & Neal Schon (and YOU, Kevin Shirley, because you let them get away with it.)
(pardon me while I break for an extended cussing fit.)
I’d guessed (and it was confirmed in comments to yesterday’s post) that the re-records were done due to their contract with Walmart. I’m FURTHER guessing that the re-records were done to get Arnel familiar with the pro-recording process and to work him in with the band by doing the stuff he’s done with his old band, The Zoo, and that the re-records were done FIRST, before the new stuff, just for that reason. His Filipino/Spanish accent is very, very strong on the re-records, but that’s not my problem here — his accent is charming & sexy, and helps to distinguish him from Perry & Augeri. The accent is near-non-existent on the new stuff, by the way (darn it).
However, the rest of the band is bloody well sleepwalking through most of the re-records. The musicianship is mushy & lazy & off — listen to the opening notes of “Don’t Stop Believin'” and weep. Mushy, lazy fingering, indistinct performances, half-assed backing vocals that sound like bad karoake (and by the way, accent or no accent, how hard would it have been to work with Arnel to pronounce the DSB chorus correctly? it’s the one time his accent works against the song). Yeah, Journey’s done these millions of times in concert, but that means they should be doing them BETTER, not worse. Get your act together here, Journey!
Dear gods, Separate Ways :headdeskheaddesk: who the HELL let the kiddy casio in the house??? And yes, I said the problems aren’t Arnel’s fault — but Open Arms & Faithfully really needed a gentler touch than what he gave them; he stays at that bell-ringing clarion-call throughout both songs. To be fair to Arnel, that’s how he did it with the Zoo, and for Journey not to have corrected it…that’s a bad production call.
On some of the songs, they’ve changed them to the “live” arrangements. Don’t Stop Believin is the biggest example, and dammit, that “dooooon’t STOP” ending should work, but it just comes off lazy, badly timed, badly produced. UGH.
With THAT ranted, there are some bright spots in the re-records:
Only The Young — I actually like this version better than the original, and most of that is due to Arnel’s delivery; it’s one of the few tracks where the band isn’t sleepwalking through the production. It’s the one original Journey song where I felt Perry’s vocal delivery was way-off, and I never liked it much due to that. Arnel seizes it, makes it his, and made me listen to it again with fresh ears; the song’s alive for me, now.
Wheel In The Sky — the opening, especially. Another point where Neal’s not sleepwalking through it; his guitar work is clearer here than the Infinity version.
Lights — MUCH better, clearer production than the original Infinity version (sorry, I’m one of those folks who think Roy Thomas Baker should never have been let anywhere near Journey).
Stone in Love — oh, that sexy Filipino accent. 🙂 Wow.
Upshot: Revelation is worth the $12 at Walmart, especially for the new stuff.