'Quite a band': Jonathan Cain goes inside the original sessions for Journey's "Faithfully"

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Sometimes, inspiration can happen with all of the suddenness and illumination of a lightning strike: Such was the case when Journey entered the studio to record “Faithfully,” keyboardist and songwriter Jonathan Cain says.

The Cain-penned track, which rose to No. 12 on the Billboard charts, was originally included on Journey’s 1983 effort Frontiers. That album, home to three other Top 40 singles (No. 8 “Separate Ways,” as well as “After the Fall” and “Send Her My Love,” which both went to No. 23 on the charts) would eventually earn six-times platinum sales — and “Faithfully” became one of Journey’s signature ballads.

In a new talk with Atlantic City Insiders held just before a Journey concert in Atlantic City, Cain took listeners inside the recording sessions for “Faithfully” — the last track recorded for Frontiers.

“The song surpassed any of my wildest dreams; Steve Perry sang such a wonderful vocal,” Cain says. “But it was a last minute thing. You hear the stories about doing one more ballad for an album — and that was the last ballad we did. We had never played it at rehearsal, and it took just three takes! I thought that band was quite a band.”

Unfortunately, Frontiers would be among the last to feature the hitmaking lineup of vocalist Steve Perry, guitarist Neal Schon, drummer Steve Smith, bassist Ross Valory and Cain. Journey used studio musicians for its rhythm section on 1986’s Raised on Radio, before returning as a group after a long layover for 1996’s Trial by Fire. An ailing Perry then left the band, and the core group of Cain, Schon and Valory (with drummer Deen Castronovo, and a series of vocalists) has continued on without him.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: As former lead singer Steve Perry contemplates a comeback, he jokes about the pressure of living up to past successes with Journey: ‘It’s an opportunity to suck.’]

“I kept hoping that there would be a reunion,” Cain told Atlantic City Insiders, “but Steve was reluctant with his health situation. He was really fighting some serious health issues that really set him back. There was no going forward. We waited maybe three years between 1987-89, and we did nothing, then Bad English happened. Then Steve called in 1996, and we did Trail by Fire. We were supposed to go on tour, and then he had more health issues and these were serious ones — physically impairing.”

After a period of transition, Journey eventually settled on frontman Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singer the group discovered on YouTube. Their last two albums with Pineda have been Top 20 Billboard hits.

“We rolled the dice on him,” Cain admits. “It was something out of left field. But we believed in him, once we met him. We fell in love with the guy — the heart of the guy. Not only was he a man with a wonderful voice, but he was a great man.”

The only project in Journey’s long history to outsell Frontiers was its nine-times platinum predecessor Escape from 1981, Cain’s first album with the band.

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Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Journey. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

JOURNEY – ECLIPSE (2011): In many ways, the initial cuts on Eclipse recall the wide-open heavy fusion of the the band’s original Gregg Rolie-era records, a period when guitarist Neal Schon pulled and stretched his muse. At the same time, singer Arnel Pineda possesses a second-act Steve Perry-sounding penchant for soaring expectancy. For age-old fans, that often makes this album the best of both worlds, a musically dense recording in the style of the band’s underrated 1977?s Next, and a loud one, but at the same time one that doesn’t completely abandon the visceral mainstream pop sensibilities that defined the band’s subsequent hitmaking period in the 1980s.

SOMETHING ELSE! SNEAK PEEK: NEAL SCHON – THE CALLING (2012): Schon reunites with former Journey drummer Steve Smith, and they recapture much of the sound and feel of the band’s platinum era — mixing in arena-rattling tracks like “Carnival Jazz” and “Back Smash” with the soaring pop-balladry of “Six String Waltz” and “True Emotion.” “Blue Rainbow Sky” emerges from a Jimi Hendrix-style riff into something that sounds like a newly unearthed track from the Escape sessions. But there’s also a cool jazz-rock underpinning, something that allows Schon to explore further out along the edges of his craft in a way that his main band’s brand of mainstream rock almost never does anymore.

SOMETHING ELSE! INTERVIEW: FORMER JOURNEY DRUMMER STEVE SMITH: Smith is in the midst of a flurry of activity surrounding the 30th anniversary of his jazz group Vital Information. The first VI album appeared in 1983, even as his tenure with Journey reached its chart-topping zenith. Smith eventually left to pursue jazz, his first true love, and is commemorating that with the release of three albums over a two-year period. We just had to ask, though, since Smith played in both Journey eras: Which did he prefer, the Gregg Rolie or the Jonathan Cain editions?

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.

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.

Dates and venues for Journey’s ongoing 2012 tour with Loverboy and Pat Benatar:

15 Mt. Pleasant, MI Soaring Eagle Casino
19 Peoria, IL Peoria Civic Center
21 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
22 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center
25 Hamilton, ON Copps Coliseum
26 Ottawa, ON Scotiabank Place
28 Bangor, ME Waterfront Park
29 Providence, RI Dunkin Donuts Center

2 Norfolk, VA Constant Convocation Center
3 Greensboro, NC Greensboro Coliseum
5 Mobile, AL Bayfest
6 Atlanta, GA Aaron’s Amphitheater At Lakewood
9 Little Rock, AR Verizon Arena
10 Tulsa, OK BOK Center
12 Tampa, FL 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater
13 West Palm Beach, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
30 New York, NY Barclays Bank Arena

2 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
3 Manchester, NH Verizon Center
5 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
7 Columbus, OH Schottenstein/Nationwide
8 Evansville, IN Ford Center
10 Grand Rapids, MI Van Andel Arena
11 Fort Wayne, IN Allen County War Memorial
13 Moline, IL iWireless Center
14 Sioux City, IA Tyson Center
16 Milwaukee, WI Bradley Center
17 Green Bay, WI Resch Center
19 Winnipeg, MB MTS Centre
24 Grand Praire, AB Crystal Center
27 Edmonton, AB Rexall Place
28 Saskatoon, SK Credit Union Centre
30 Calgary, AB Scotiabank Saddledome

1 Kelowna, BC Prospera Place
3 Vancouver, BC Rogers Arena
4 Victoria, BC Save-On Food Centre
7 Las Vegas, NV Planet Hollywood

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