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Trial By Fire

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Album Review

After a ten-year hiatus, Journey returned to recording in 1996 with Trial by Fire, an album that sounds as if no time had passed between it and the band's last album, Raised on Radio. Journey have been completely unaffected by any trend in popular music, whether it's hair metal, hip-hop, or alternative rock and, frankly, they're the better for it. Trial by Fire delivers exactly what any Journey fan wants — anthemic rockers and sweeping power ballads. Steve Perry sounds as powerful as ever, while Neal Schon's accomplished guitar licks remain as tasty as ever. The songwriting, as before, is slightly hit-and-miss, with singles like "When You Love a Woman" and "Message of Love" standing out from the handful of mediocre album tracks. Which means, if you've enjoyed Journey in the past, you're certain to enjoy the best moments of Trial by Fire, but if their arena rock and radio-ready ballads have never agreed with you, the album will not change your mind. [Legacy Recordings reissued the album in 2006 with the bonus track "I Can See It in Your Eyes."]

Customer Reviews

Trial By Fire - Journey

Nineteen-ninety-six brought the "classic" lineup of Journey back together again - vocalist Steve Perry, guitarist Neil Schon, keyboardist Jonathan Cain, bassist Ross Valory, and drummer Steve Smith. And on "Trial By Fire," it's as though it was the summer of '83 all over again. "Trial" ripples with all the classic tunesmanship of "Escape" or "Frontiers," and on songs like "Forever In Blue," "Castles Burning," and especially "Message Of Love," Journey proved still that they could still rock with the best of them. It would be easy to dismiss "Message Of Love" as "Son of Separate Ways" because of their similarity, but "Message" smolders with a dazzling display of musicianship in a way that "Separate Ways" doesn't. If "Separate Ways" was the more accessible of the two, then clearly "Message" was more fun to rock out with. And it wouldn't be classic Journey without the ballads, and while "Don't Be Down On Me Baby" or "It's Just The Rain" falls short of their best work, they make up for it in spades on "If He Should Break Your Heart" and "When You Love A Woman," the one and only single from the album. Seems the album itself fizzled after Perry's hip-replacement surgery, thereby cancelling the upcoming tour and forcing the band to replace Perry with a raven haired doppleganger, Steve Augeri, who sounds like Perry if you give him a passing listen, but who lacks all the soul and passion that Perry delivered. Perry's vocals on "Trial" at times sound scratchy and lacking in the once-soaring range he had mastered so well in his heyday, but his sincerity, passion, and ability to sell a song more than made up for it, particularly on the title track and the fun reggae-tinged "Baby I'm A Leavin' You." There's also an additional track on this re-release - the rocker "I Can See It In Your Eyes," which was only included on the Japanese version of "Trial" when it was first released. Check it out.

My "Desert Island" Album

To me, this is the quintessential Journey far my favorite. I pull this one out much more often than any of the others. Although it does take a while to get started and does have some of what I consider to be not their best songs, songs like "Easy to Fall", "Colors of the Spirit", and how "It's Just the Rain" runs right into "Trial by Fire" are among my very favorites. It also was among the first of its kind to feature a "hidden track" which we now know as "Baby I'm A Leavin' You" (it did not appear on the original liner notes. Which brings us to now...a new track, or at least new to us, which is just great. I do hope one thing, though. With the unfortunate illness of Steve Augeri, I hope the leaders of the group, Cain and Schon, look to an old friend to lead the group once again. I sincerely regret that they did not tour after this album and have long awaited the return of this great band. Schon, Cain, Valory..bring back Steve Perry and Steve Smith...PLEASE, and get back in the studio and on the road because you still have dedicated and loyal fans who still listen to your music every single day. The group just isn't the same today without Perry and Smith

Trial By Fire - One of the Greatest CDs of All Time!

The CD Trial By Fire is a phenomenal piece of work. What a profound feeling comes across when Steve Perry, one of the greatest tenors of all time, sings with such deep feeling and power. There is music that can touch you so deeply, that even in your greatest sorrows you awaken to something profound. When you touch these spaces, magic comes fully alive. Trial By Fire is a masterpiece with incredible feeling and aliveness!


Formed: 1973 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During their initial 14 years of existence (1973-1987), Journey altered their musical approach and their personnel extensively while becoming a top touring and recording band. The only constant factor was guitarist Neal Schon, a music prodigy who had been a member of Santana in 1971-1972. The original unit, which was named in a contest on KSAN-FM in San Francisco, featured Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Prairie Prince (replaced by Aynsley Dunbar), and guitarist George Tickner (who left after...
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