When Jon Bon Jovi calls a band frontman – one that is more or less a contemporary of his – “the voice”, then you know that you are dealing with a gifted singer. Steve Perry, the man in question, was the vocalist for Journey during the band’s most successful period. Rolling Stone magazine placed him at 76 on its “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.
Journey’s heyday was between 1978 and 1987. The track in the featured video, below, Don’t Stop Believin’, was the second single from the Escape LP (1981). Escape was Journey’s seventh album. Don’t Stop Believin’ was a top ten hit around the world. For fans of Steve “The Voice” Perry, the video is a treat as it features Perry’s isolated vocals.
The video is a technical achievement. Perry’s vocal, with strategic dabs of Neal Schon’s guitar, is taken from the original studio recording. For the video, the vocal track and guitar parts have been synched with live footage from Tokyo,1983. It is very well done; and it demonstrates what a tight, professional band Journey was. The extent to which the original vocal matches the live performance is astonishing. Even the sections where the band harmonise fit.
For many fans, Don’t Stop Believin’ is Journey’s signature song. Long after the original single was released on vinyl, the song has found a second life on digital streaming services. According to Wikipedia, it is the best-selling digital track from the 20th Century (over 7m copies sold in the US alone). Part of this success is due to the songs inclusion in the final scene of the Sopranos TV-series finale. Here is a full band version of Don’t Stop Believin’ from 1981, also filmed in Japan.
Steve Perry and Journey were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. As every Journey fan knows, Steve Perry was not the first Journey singer (that was keyboardist Gregg Rolie) and he wasn’t the last. Perry’s initial tenure with Journey ended in 1987 when he needed to take a break from touring for the sake of both his health and his vocal chords. Perry re-joined the classic Journey line-up in 1996 to record Trial by Fire, but a hip injury and a diagnosis of a degenerate bone disease led to his departure when the band refused to postpone an upcoming tour.
As The New Statesman expressed it in 2018, the primary ingredient Journey have “spent three decades cyclically seeking to replace is the voice of their frontman, Steve Perry, who came and went, and came and went – then disappeared”.