On Infinity, legendary producer Roy Thomas Baker moves from the magic kingdom of Queen to the fledgling AOR arena (see also Foreigner and the Cars). On Journey's fourth release, he helps the Bay Area boys understand the principles of commercial economics as the quintet cleans up former prog leanings, but retains a bombastic pop sense. Infinity doesn't possess the weighty subject matter of Queen, but still puts forth positive radio opera. Of course, most important is the arrival of unknown Steve Perry whose sonorous tenor is so powerful it knocks Greg Rolie completely off the lead mic by the end of the third track. They do share vocals on two cuts, and the results are remarkable. Infinity dropped before ballads became an unwelcome requisite (although Journey usually displays exquisite taste), and the sincere sentiment of the calmer numbers exudes extreme emotional texture. "Somethin' to Hide" reveals a delicious stereo confection. Hometown valentine "Lights" suffers from a dated drum sound, and the phased vocals in red-hot double-shot "Feeling That Way/Anytime" are also antiquated, but Infinity hearkens a great time in music (the best time in my book), so just ride the sonic slide. "La Do Da" and "Can Do" burn righteously while indisputable classic "Wheel in the Sky" needs no descriptive amplification. Both the blatantly-Boston "Patiently" and mega-opus "Winds of March" start out mellow and then blow open in some kind of long-winded Zeppelin work-out, replete with a "What Is and What Should Never Be" dual channel break. In fact, Led Zeppelin II may be a blueprint as both records showcase showstopping double a-sides and variations on light/heavy composition. But obviously Infinity defines album rock, not heavy metal. It may take a couple spins, but allow yourself to be taken away by this masterwork. You'll be sucked into the tubular procession as the royal Roy Thomas Baker production finds the perfect home on the range: introducing Steve Perry to the world through flange; sending Neal Schon's frets soaring skyward; and creating a better quality of rock through warm, summer sonics.
-STONE, Cheap Trash NYC