Pennyblackmusic Presents: Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy) - With Hector Gannet and Andy Thompson @The Water Rats, London, Saturday 25, May, 2024

Headlining are Johny Brown (Band of Holy Joy) With support from Hector Gannet And Andy Thompson
Hosted at the Water Rats London , Saturday 25th May, 2024. Doors open 7:30pm. First band on at 8:00pm; Admission £15 on the door or £12 in advance from We got Tickets
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David Hamilton Golland - Livin Just To Find Emotion: Journey and the Story of American Rock,

  by Eoghan Lyng

published: 8 / 3 / 2024

David Hamilton Golland - Livin Just To Find Emotion: Journey and the Story of American Rock,


Eoghan Lyng reflects on a new book by David Hamilton Golland about piano balladeering 1970's/1980's American rock band Journey

The summer of 1981 was a letdown. After spending months starving himse lf in a prison cell, Irish prisoner Bobby Sands finally let go, and disappeared into orbit, leaving a disgraced Prime Minister and a devastated nation in his wake, a taste of political misdemeanours to come. Over in America, an erstwhile actor had proven adept at political grandstanding, leading to a decade of sloganeerings and divisions which brought the Cold War to a horrifying climax. In this climate, rock music took a more polemical turn, with everyone from Queen to UB40 espousing the virtues of communal living in a global paradigm. Journey, an American band buoyed by Steve Perry's Homeric persona and helium-like falsetto, issued a piano ballad that shared a similar structure to Paul McCartney's 'Let It Be' that inexplicably won over the hearts, and wallets, of a generation searching for an epistle. But what was it that made 'Don't Stop Believin'' so special? With ‘Livin Just To Find Emotion: Journey and the Story of American Rock,’ David Hamilton Golland posits a compelling theory, one that suggests that the band, particularly Perry, felt indebted to the legion of fans that arrived in their masses to their concerts. 'Don't Stop Believin'' featured on ‘Escape’, the band's seventh album, a record that featured a selection of power ballads that were more accessible than their earlier, proggier output. Keyboardist Jonathan Cain felt it was time for the band to reach out to the "blue collar" people, giving them permission to dream outside of their social parameters and classes. When Perry, inspired by some tremendous exhibitions of drum work from Steve Smith, performed some of the more intricate vocals he had yet mustered in his career, there could scarcely have been a more propitious set of circumstances for the band's rise in the higher echelons of rock. Indeed, Perry's voice transcended race, being equal parts Sam Cooke and Jon Anderson in its execution. At first, Perry fretted about joining Journey. This was a band who had three albums under their belt by 1977, and considering Neal Schon's pedigree (a man who had collaborated with Carlos Santana), was unsure whether his shy nature suited the band's hard rock sound. Then, he galvanised himself into action, co-writing seven of the twelve tracks that featured on ‘Infinity’, the band's fourth effort. The impishness didn't last long, and Perry started dictating where the band should go with their music, which included introducing Smith into the fold at the expense of incumbent drummer Aynsley Dunbar. "We saw [Smith]play every night, " Perry recalled, "and I turned to Neal and said, Tthis is the guy we should have in our band. This is what we need." Perry's domineering nature is evident from the book, although Golland does what he can to explore the band's politics with as much candour as he can muster. Perry's contributions - immortalised on soundtracks and YouTube clips - were aided by Cain's sense of melody and purpose, who regularly flattened out the singer's wilder musical outbursts with a more subdued expression of craft. Actually, Cain was the most sensitive memory of the band, and in one of his more thoughtful interviews, recalls the face of a cancer-ridden boy sinking into the bed to the soundtrack of Cain's music playing on his Walkman. Unforgettably, Perry added a level of androgyny to the group: His cheekbones and wavy hair stood at odds with the Goliathian poses his bandmates proffered, which might explain why he became something of a pinup for teenage girls across America and Canada. The subtitle of Golland's book is "the Story of American Rock", an acknowledgement of sorts to the relatively young history of the genre, which only gathered steam at the close of the 1960s. This gives the book an interesting subtext, not least because it outlines the influence of such disparate black mediums of music - jazz, soul, blues - on the lexicon of rock. Filipino singer Arnel Campaner Pineda, who has been Journey's singer since 2007, signals this political change, exhibiting a singer of colour emulating a caucasian vocalist, Perry, whose roots were in black music. The main theme of Golland's work is resilience: A working class band that stood up to the changing political landscapes (Reagan and Thatcher were as indelible as any pop star during the 1980s) and survived based on gumption, good will and exhilarating music. Plainly, ‘Livin Just To Find Emotion: Journey and the Story of American Rock’ is in rather different form, and occasionally overestimates the patience of the reader, by offering a non-linear chronology that pivots in and out of the band's personal odyssey. But the writing style, economical and fashioned by a desire to explore the importance of rock in the real world, never falters, exhibiting an individual flavour that is unique to Golland and Golland alone. The book is excellently well researched, bringing colour to a decade (the 1980s) that was much more complicated in tone than it's often been painted as.

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