Four June dates have already been scheduled in Japan, with more to follow across the world, for a new all-star collective known as Legends: Voices of Rock, featuring former frontmen from Chicago, Deep Purple, Jefferson Starship, Journey and Toto.
The group includes Steve Augeri from Journey, Fergie Frederiksen and Bobby Kimball from Toto, Bill Champlin from Chicago, Mickey Thomas from Starship and Joe Lynn Turner from Deep Purple and Richie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Additional singers, including Lou Gramm of Foreigner and Jimi Jamison of Survivor, have also been mentioned as possible future participants.
They will be backed by a group of familiar performers from rock circles, as well — including Tommy Denander (Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley), Pontus Engborg (Glenn Hughes), Sayit Dolen (Bobby Kimball), Ken Sandin (Alien, K2) and P-O Nilsson (Joseph Williams).
Announced dates for Legends: Voices of Rock, so far:
June 7: Zepp Nagoya – Nagoya, Japan
June 9: NHK Hall – Osaka, Japan
June 11: Sun Plaza Hall – Tokyo, Japan
June 13: CC Lemon Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Journey, Toto, Chicago and Deep Purple. Click through the titles for complete reviews …
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: TOTO: Critics hung soft rock around their necks after the success of tunes like “I Won’t Hold You Back,” “99” and “I’ll Be Over You.” But Toto was never so easily identifiable. A closer listen uncovers a musical pallette that brings in heavier guitar sounds, funk, soul, R&B, jazz, even prog rock. Top 5 hits like “Hold the Line,” “Rosanna,” and “Africa,” each as listenable as they can be, scarcely hint at that kind of complexity. Can this legacy be saved? That’s where we come in.
FORMER CHICAGO MEMBER BILL CHAMPLIN ON “HARD HABIT TO BREAK,” “AFTER THE LOVE IS GONE,” OTHER SONGS: On this special edition of Something Else! Reviews’ One Track Mind, we hand the reins over former Chicago singer and keyboardist Bill Champlin. He talks about Grammy-winning tracks “Turn Your Love Around” and “After the Love Has Gone,” his contributions to Chicago, working with Toto, and how lounge-singer Robert Goulet almost got one of his gigs.
ONE TRACK MIND: JOURNEY, “FEELING THAT WAY/ ANYTIME (1978; 2011 reissue): A new Greatest Hits Vol. 2 was, in some ways, more interesting than Journey’s initial best-of compilation — if only because its songs haven’t necessarily become ear-wormingly familiar. Perhaps the most potent examples are these twin 1978 gems from Infinity, Journey’s first project with Steve Perry. His appearance would immediately transform an interesting, if often unfocused jam band — co-led by Santana alums Gregg Rolie and Neal Schon — into a hit-making juggernaut. This album easily became the band’s biggest seller to date, as Journey moved toward a tighter focus on songcraft.
FERGIE FREDERIKSEN – HAPPINESS IS THE ROAD (2011): This album couldn’t sound more quintessentially uplifting, even if its 1980s-era melodic rock textures — layer upon layers of synthesizers punctuated by fleet and flashy guitar work, completed by Fergie’s now-familiar soaring vocal interplay — don’t do much to challenge expectations. But, really, why should they? In the end, this is the sound of Frederiksen’s era, the sound of the period when he last ruled the airwaves, and it’s hard to fault him for wanting to return to it.
SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: CHICAGO: Fans of their initial music could be forgiven for barely recognizing Chicago by the 1980s, as fussy power ballads eventually flushed out the band’s signature horn sound. A group that had built its reputation on organic experimentation, a kind of prog-fusion that earned heavy rotation on a then-new FM radio format, never returned to the album-length suites that once defined it. Well, we have. Often. Travel back now, to those thrilling days of roman numerals and Terry Kath. Here are five hand-picked sides, from their pre-guilty pleasure era.
DEEP PURPLE – SHADES OF DEEP PURPLE (1968; 2011 REISSUE): Coming together in 1967, Deep Purple were like a lot of bands of the day, as their mission was to push the sonic envelope as far as possible and create something new and exciting. Based out of Hertford, England, the group achieved their goal straight away. Dramatic and bombastic, Deep Purple played a tumultuous blend of heavy metal and progressive rock before such labels arrived into being, tagging them pioneers of the genres.
SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: GREGG ROLIE, FOUNDING MEMBER OF SANTANA AND JOURNEY: Gregg Rolie, a 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, has learned a lot about himself since taking fame’s exit ramp to start a family almost 30 years ago. He’s put into perspective the work done as a founding member of Santana, a stint that saw Rolie co-produce the group’s first four albums beginning in 1969. The bluesy B-3 stylist then added to an overstuffed resume that already included an appearance at Woodstock, leaving with Neal Schon to launch Journey. There, he helped craft a series of 1970s recordings that set the stage for that band’s arena-rock supernova moment in the 1980s.
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