Infinity Departure Demo and Alternate Mix (Gypsy Eye GE-248)
Infinity Demo: 1. Lights; 2: Feeling That Way; 3. Anytime; 4: Wheel in the Sky; 5: Can Do
Departure Alternate Mix: 6. Anyway You Want It; 7: Walks Like a Lady; 8: Someday Soon; 9: People and Places; 10: Precious Time; 11: Where Were You; 12: I’m Cryin’; 13: Line of Fire; 14: Good Morning Girl; 15: Stay Awhile; 16: Natural Thing; 17: Homemade Love
Journey’s continued performance and creation of new music in 2013 is spectacular. The Journey of today, however, is a far cry from the Journey that first got together in the early 1970’s with Schon and Rolie after they performed with Santana at Woodstock, and some may even say the Journey of the 1980’s that produced uber hits such as “Don’t Stop Believin” and “Open Arms.”
For this reviewer, it was the “Open Arms” era that served as the final blow to any further interest in Journey’s new music. This was because it clearly was directed at an audience different than the one for which classic albums such as their self-titled first album, Look into the Future, and Next were written. Infinity could also be grouped into that classic Journey genre, although Steve Perry had joined the group by then as they continued their change in style to writing more radio-oriented and shorter songs. After blowing apart the time signatures for years with his powerful and imaginative drumming, Infinity was Aynsley Dunbar’s last album with the band. Their sound changed even more dramatically with their next album Evolution, and then Departure, which would be Greg Rolie’s last with the group. The enormously successful Escape followed, which was artistically distinct from Infinity and Departure and, for some Journey fans, a bit alienating.
Gypsy Eye’s Infinity Departure Demo and Alternate Mix is an excellent glimpse back into Journey’s creative process during the group’s artistic and commercial transition surrounding those two albums. That is, at least as far as the Infinity sessions are concerned, because the “Departure Alternate Mix” on this release sounds only like an inferior recording of the vinyl album that is deceptively called an “alternate mix.” It’s the exact same as the album and will not be reviewed here.
The five Infinity demos are fantastic, in studio quality and altogether different from what was released on the album. As always, it’s up to one’s personal tastes, but strong arguments can be made that what we hear in these demos at least equals the versions on the classic album. The disc opens with Steve Perry happily counting “1, 2, 3” before Schon and Rolie began an inspired version of “Lights.” Schon’s solo is raunchier and more prominent in the mix, as was Rolie’s grand piano throughout the song and all of these demos for that matter. “Feeling That Way” also benefits from different vocals from Rolie and Perry, Schon rips a different solo, and shortly thereafter came the familiar (yet different) harmonies to open “Anytime.” There’s a bit more fuzz in Schon’s sound here and Dunbar’s toms cascade in stereo as extended harmonies and jamming occur that was not on the album’s version. Awesome performance by everyone and, amazingly, it only gets better in “Wheel In the Sky.” An entirely different version of the song, with an amazing fifty second introduction by Schon, Rolie and Perry represented nowhere on the album. The harmonies and vocals in this track sound great, again differing from the album, and Valory, Schon, Rolie and Dunbar put wonderfully different instrumental stamps on the song, which closes after a funky rock outro. “Can Do” finishes the demos and partially blows the doors off the killer version on the album, particularly in Dunbar’s performance. Aggressively working his snare, toms and china cymbals unlike how the song was played on the album, the monster that he was on drums is vividly brought back in this recording. Schon’s guitar sound here was just nasty, with a bit of tasty feedback in tiny spots and another killer solo. The Infinity demos end at that point, but it’s a thrilling listen that doesn’t tire even after repeated spins.
The Infinity demo tracks found on this release are what make music collecting so rewarding. They are unreleased, of great quality and exciting. The packaging is in a single jewel case with artwork and pictures from the era, although only Steve Smith is listed as the drummer. This release is highly recommended solely because of the fantastic Infinity demos.