Look Into the Future was Journey’s second studio release, and it’s amazing how great they sound without Steve Perry. From 1975-1977, Journey’s style blended prog-rock, fusion, and hard rock in an expert blend. Gregg Rolie served as their vocalist. While he’s not a Perry tenor, his vocals are earthier, more rocking. Perry’s got a great set of pipes, but he’s a balladeer, not a rocker. This album, therefore, is a rocker because it has 0% Steve Perry.
You won’t hear any of these songs sung on Glee, except maybe Journey’s cover of “It’s All Too Much,” but I doubt New Directions would use Journey’s arrangement. As a Beatles cover, I like it. It’s a fresh take on the song and Rolie’s keyboards work great with Schon’s guitar, just as they did back on Santana’s third album. It’s a great song for settling back into a comfy beanbag chair with headphones around your ears.
Oops, I missed the opening track, “On a Saturday Nite.” It’s not a special song, but it’s competently done. I like second track better, as well as the third one, the progressive, droning “Anyway.” Hearing that song makes it very easy for me to believe these guys called San Francisco home. It’s very moody, but retains a certain laid-back quality in spite of the tension of the vocal and guitar part. It’s hard to explain or categorize, so I guess that’s why I enjoy it.
I didn’t enjoy “She Makes Me (Feel Alright).” It was needlessly profane and I skip past it. It’s totally not in the same character as the rest of the album, so my guess is that the band put it on their because their manager told them a song about sex sells. Let this be a lesson to anyone else that’s looking to make money: if the price of success is your soul, you didn’t really succeed.
Side two kicks off with “You’re on Your Own,” a complicated rocker that’s back in the spirit of the rest of the album. It switches time signatures around deftly, so it’s one for those of you in the Math Rock crowd. I love Schon’s spiraling downward rhythm guitar along with Rolie’s Hammond Organ solo in the middle, followed by a real firecracker from Schon.
I should mention also that I absolutely love Aynsley Dunbar’s drumming and Ross Valory’s bass playing. These guys were a solid rhythm pair and help make this album a great one.
Next up is the title track, “Look Into the Future.” It’s a ballad, but not in a sappy, teenage heartbeat sort of way. It’s heartfelt, it puts the instruments up at the front, and the bluesy, heavy rock is first class. It’s a lot like a really good Kansas song with vocals that growl instead of soar, if that’s any help. At 8:10, this song is the album’s longest, but it delivers all the way through.
The last two songs, “Midnight Dreamer” and “I’m Gonna Leave You,” go great together. The first one rocks out for the first minute in a way that neatly dovetails with the title track. After that, it’s four minutes of fusion jamming that plays beautifully, featuring Rolie on a lovely electric piano solo that segues into a synthesizer, followed by Schon’s top-drawer playing. The last song picks up where “Midnight Dreamer” ends, growling and rumbling its way to a hard rock finish.
I just gotta love this platter’s second half, no question. On my 1-10 scale, this second release from Journey is a good 7. It could have been better, sure, but I always have fun with it.