30 Years Ago: Journey’s ‘Frontiers’ Album Released
When Journey started recording their eighth album — ‘Frontiers,’ which turns 30 this month — they were coming off their biggest year ever.
Their previous album, 1981âs âEscape,â contained their best set of songs, a consistent mix of radio-friendly pop and fist-raising rock that they had been striving for since 1975. The band was rewarded with its first (and only) No. 1 album and its all-time bestseller — not counting 1988âs âGreatest Hitsâ collection â with more than nine million copies.
So expectations were high when they stepped into a California studio to record the follow up. But ever since their fourth album, 1978âs breakthrough âInfinity,â when they hired Steve Perry as singer, Journey hadnât so much upgraded their sound as they had sharpened it. By the time they released âEscape,â they werenât making different records, just better ones. And they stuck by that foolproof plan for âFrontiers.’
Taking what worked on âEscapeâ (big pop hooks mixed with crowd-swaying ballads), tossing out what didnât (excessive soloing by the bandâs veteran musicians) and adding a glossy early-â80s sheen that gave the album the groupâs most state-of-the-art production, Journey crafted âFrontiersâ by the hit-making playbook. More than anything, the record was designed to sell a lot of copies and to continue the roll they were on since âEscapeâ catapulted them to the top.
The plan halfway worked. The four singles released from the album â âSeparate Ways (Worlds Apart),â âSend Her My Love,â âAfter the Fallâ and âFaithfullyâ — all hit the Top 30, but âSeparate Waysâ was the only one to reach the Top 10. The LP itself hit No. 2 and eventually sold six million copies. But besides a handful of tracks, the songs donât make much of an impression. The quintet left little breathing space within the music; they were so determined to make a hit record that most of the album sounds like it was manufactured in a factory. âFrontiersâ would be the last classic Journey record. By the time they got around to the follow-up, 1986âs âRaised on Radio,â two longtime members were fired, Perry had seized control of the group and the music sounded as faceless as the bandâs critics had always claimed it was. âFrontiersâ was the beginning of the end.
Watch Journey’s Video for ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’