Columbia, 1977

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The early days of Journey often sound like one is riding a musical see-saw. Their debut album was not a strong effort, while Look Into The Future was a major improvement.

Next, their third effort, unfortunately finds Gregg Rolie and crew backsliding into old, bad patterns—but there are flashes of the brilliance that were present on their previous album.

If there is one word that sums up the first four tracks of this one, it is “boring.” After a slower than expected start with “Spaceman,” the energy of the disc dips into the dangerously low area with the dreadful two-fer of “People” and “I Would Find You.” The musicianship might be en pointe on these songs, but there is absolutely nothing there to keep the listener engrossed or excited to hear what will come next, so that by “Here We Are,” one is almost completely ready to walk away from this album.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There is a noticeable improvement on the second half of Next; “Hustler” seems to suggest that there was more to offer the listener than the first four tracks suggested, while the title track kicks the energy into overdrive. Regrettably, the final two songs—the instrumental “Nickel And Dime” and “Karma”—aren’t able to capture the same levels of intensity.

The thing is, Next is not in and of itself a bad album. But one can hardly call it an exciting album that you’d look forward to listening to on repeat. With the exception of “Hustler” and “Next,” the bulk of the album doesn’t really evoke much of an emotional response from the listener. Was that the fault of the songwriting? Or because they didn't have a powerhouse lead singer, as Steve Perry hadn’t yet joined their ranks?

In this case, the blame seems to be on the songwriting and arrangements; there isn’t enough firepower in either to keep one’s attention. I personally was ready to give up by what would have been the end of side one, had I been listening on vinyl.

Regardless of who was fronting the band, Journey had proven that, with good songwriting and energetic performances, they could capture a listener’s ears and heart. Next, regrettably, does neither. It’s not good, it’s not bad... it’s just meh. And, for a band like Journey, that proves to be an unforgivable sin.

Rating: C-

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