Journey has returned with a new singer, Arnel Pineda, and a spectacular new three disc album release. Revelation covers all the bases introducing Pineda to Journey’s legions of fans. There is one disc of new songs, a live disc from a Las Vegas concert and a disc of eleven of their classic songs re-recorded with Pineda as the vocalist.
Arnel Pineda fits Journey’s sound like a glove. He is a Steve Perry clone and sometimes his vocals, especially on the classic Journey songs, are indistinguishable from the originals. In fact if I have any criticism of Pineda, it is he is too perfect. There are times I would like to hear some of his vocal personality inserted into the songs.
The live disc is an hour concert that Journey recorded in Las Vegas shortly after Pineda joined the band. He is a little stiff on stage but no doubt will settle in as time goes by. Such Journey hits as “Wheel In The Sky,” “Lights,” “Open Arms,” “Faithfully” and “Don’t Stop Believin'” are faithful presentations of the original hits. Two newer songs, “After All These Years” and “Never Walk Away” find Pineda more relaxed, which is understandable since they are truly his songs. Neal Schon proves that he is still one of the better guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll. His improvisations are consistently excellent plus he has the experience not to let them get out of control as he always returns to the basic song melodies.
What also struck me about Journey live was the full sound that they were able to produce both instrumentally and vocally. The voices of the members just meld together perfectly. Also, drummer Deen Castronovo gives a superb lead vocal performance on “Mother/Father.” It almost makes you want to see him step out from behind his drum set and have a go at some of Journey’s well-known songs.
The disc of new material is a mix of power ballads and rockers and are fine additions to the Journey catalog. “Never Walk Away” is classic up-tempo Journey. I consider “Wildest Dream” to be the song that puts Pineda over the top. “After All These Years” is a fine ballad. This studio version was performed on the concert disc and proves that the group can still produce their material live. “What It Takes To Win” is a keyboard driven-song featuring the wizardry of Jonathan Cain. While the spotlight tends to settle on guitarist Neal Schon and now vocalist Arnel Pineda, I can’t help but think that ultimately Cain is the soul of the group. “Where Did I Lose Your Love” is a showcase for Neal Schon’s guitar playing.
My least favorite of the three discs was the re-recording of 11 classic Journey tunes with Pineda at the vocal helm. The songs are fine but I have heard them before and many people own them on any of Journey’s Greatest Hits albums. Pineda has already proven that he fits in with the group and the live disc certainly shows that he can copy any vocal that Steve Perry put on tape. There’s nothing offensive here, just duplication.
In the final analysis, Revelation is a spectacular return by Journey. The album makes a person realize just how good this group has been. Hopefully they will take Pineda and continue to thrive as one of the better and more enjoyable rock groups of the last thirty years.