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4.6 out of 5 stars
Trial By Fire
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on 12 June 2017
I've had many enjoyable days listening to this CD.
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on 5 November 2017
i have loved journey for many years and this last album with Steve Perry is brilliant the songs are top notch and i am enjoying listening to it .
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on 21 November 2003
Trial by Fire is the album that many of us die hard Journey fans thought we would never see. It marks Journey's return to the studio, with their most popular band line up, after a break of a whole decade. Long after we had given up hope, Journey rose from the ashes invigorated with new life and new experiences gained from the band members separately pursuing their own solo careers during the separation. This album is full of new ideas, and whilst being characteristically Journey, it brings a new dimension to the bands repertoire.
If you used to listen to Journey but lost touch with the band during the '86-'96 Journey drought and you still think that Journey's Escape is the best album they ever released, then give this one a spin. For me, this is the best album that has ever been laid down onto plastic by any band. Not only that, it has the best album cover too!
Where do I start? You have 14 tracks on here (actually 15-if you're not too quick to turn it off at the end). To pigeon hole things very crudely, there are four 'rockers' and four 'power ballads' and several others that don't really fit into either category. But beyond that, this album shows the first signs of what I think of as the new Journey 'wall of sound' era where they hit your senses with many layers of sound at once. Despite the change of lead singer, the later albums 'Arrival' and 'Red13' continue this trend and expand upon it. The band matured significantly during the break and the music is altogether more thoughtful these days.
The quality of the musicianship is first rate throughout as you would expect from the line up that brought you 'Escape' and 'Frontiers'. Perry's vocals soar through the whole album and if this is the last album he ever records with Journey then it's a superb finale. Also, listen out for Jonathan Cain's beautiful keyboard work on 'Still she cries' where he robs the tempo and breathes life into the music. If you like this, try listening to Cain's excellent solo album (Back to the Innocence) released a year earlier. Neal Schon makes his presence felt on every track, his interplay with Perry on 'Castles Burning' is great and I won't even mention his solo on 'Can't tame the lion'. Everyone writes about that, but why are they surprised? They should know what he's capable of. Check out 'A prayer for peace' on his 'Electric World' album if you want to be seriously impressed. It's also very good to see Smith and Valory back on this album, rhythm sections don't come any better.
I rushed out and bought this one when it was released in 1996 and have been listening to it ever since...not tired of it yet.
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on 10 January 2002
Having read some indifferent reviews, I wondered whether this 1996 release would be up to the usual Journey standard - I needn't of worried.
It's Journey doing what they do best. Great rockers such as "Message of Love" & "Don't wake the Lion" to the melodic ballads, "When you love a woman", (a US No.1) and "Easy to Fall" to name two on an album with a greater emphasis than previous releases on ballads.
But please don't let that put you off. With 15 great tracks here it's excellent value for money.
So whether your cruising in the car or relaxing after a long day, this album makes an ideal choice.
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on 17 March 2007
How can you give a Journey cd anything less than five stars?, my only criticism is the cd has a few too many ballads which are not up to the standard of the stand out ballad "When You Love A Woman," so the album does drag a little (it's about 78 mins long) but having said that there's some fine tracks, for me they tend to be the more rockier ones like Message Of Love, One More, Castles Burning & Can't Tame The Lion. you also get the previously Japan only track "I Can See It In Your Eyes". Steve Perry (vocals) Last album with Journey.
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on 28 February 2007
Although SP didn't tour with Journey after the release of this album; his work on it along with Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Ross Valory and Steve Smith helped make IMO one of Journey's best albums.

'Message of Love' is a cracking opener to the album with a storming chorus and is followed on track 3 by the Grammy nominated 'When You Love A Woman'. Other standout tracks are 'One More' and the 2006 re-masters bonus track 'I Can See It In Your Eyes'.

I got the US import version of the re-master, but it seems this UK release will be exactly the same; so if you like Journey and don't have this album, you should definetly buy it.
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on 18 December 2012
Strange how things you mean to do sometimes just never get [down] done, or written out for others to know. Like "Super Mario 64" (also from 1996), I have it difficult to believe that I have not yet written a review for "Trial By Fire" by Journey so many years after its initial release, given my rather tempetous and long standing relationship with the record.

History: I bought the record in 1996 upon release for one of my best friends who was graduating in 1997 from High School. This was the same friend who introduced me to the three pivotal bands (for my own listening history) whose heyday occurred in the 1980s: Van Halen, Def Leppard, and Journey. In the 1990s, Van Halen was the only one of these three bands that I purchased every record they made and listened to them extensively; my exposure to Def Leppard was limited to the "Vault" Greatest Hits compliation and random tracks I heard on the radio.

With Journey, besides the 1988 "Greatest Hits" CD where I first really started listening to Journey, I also picked up "Escape", this album, and a cassette of "Look Into the Future" from a pawn shop. I also seriously considered buying "Time 3" on several different occasions but the funds were never there . . . and then here came Napster. I LOVED "Escape" but didn't think much of "Look Into the Future" due to the abscene of Steve Perry, and really the tape didn't get much air time in my stereo.

No so with "Trial By Fire". 1996 was a fortunate time to really discover Journey for a new listener - not only did they have an already large pre-existing back catalogue (which for financial reasons I never tapped into as much as I wanted back then), but also Perry and the boys REGROUPDED AND RECORDED A BRAND NEW ALBUM! "Trial by Fire" was the first to feature the classic lineup since the 1986 "Raised on the Radio". Also, "Trial By Fire" is the only studio album that the band did not tour behind from the 1980s and 1990s, due to a back to Steve Perry's back requring surgery. Ultimatley, by 1998 the time to tour behind the album had passed, and the band and Perry parted ways. The next piece of new music was "Remember" from the Armageddon soundtrack.

As previously mentioned, I initially bought this album as a graduation gift for the very person who first exposed me to Journey and get me into their music in the first place. I bought the album shortly after release (October 1996), and as high school graduation was several months away, I took the responsibility of listening quite extensively to this album in those intervening months. Ultimately, my friend did the album when he graduated but somehow the album did end up in my possession even after graduation.

I formed my (quite strong) opinion of the album during those months. I started writing Amazon reviews back in the late 1990s and it's rather strange to me I never wrote the review of this one, as it had been gestating in my head for so long. So what is the opinion?

THIS IS AN ALBUM THAT NEEDS JUDICIOUS AMOUNTS OF EDITING. Not only that, several of the tracks should have been left on the cutting room floor or released as B-Sides. Also, not including "I Can See It In Your Eyes" is a rather damning inditement to whoever decided upon the final running order. Coming from me, who has always preferred long albums and wanted the most music possible on any one release, this opinion means quite the reversal from my normal attitudes. There are not many albums that I actually want less music from an artist, but "Trial By Fire" is [an] one of the exceeding rare exceptions.

Allmusic's review of Michael Jackson's "Bad" complains of a perceived "a near fatal dead spot", constituting songs three through six ("Liberian Girl", "Just Good Friends", and "Another Part of Me"). They then describe [this sequence] these three tracks as "a sequence that's utterly faceless, lacking memorable hooks and melodies." Given that "Thriller" didn't have any real album tracks (they were pretty much all hit singles), this was quite unusual for a Jackson album.

So how does this "near fatal dead spot" relate too "Trial By Fire". Well, Allmusic's description of those three songs from "Bad" pretty much quite accurately sum up the last half of [the album] "Trial by Fire". Whenever I listened to "Trial by Fire", I always felt the first six songs were great. "Message of Love" and "One More" are both hard hitting numbers, and even "One More" gets vaguely Biblical. "When You Love a Woman", the only signficiant radio hit from this project, is an excellent ballad, quite firmly in the style of "Open Arms" and Journey's other classic ballads.

"If He Should Break Your Heart" is another fun number, lyrically akin to the heart-thumping "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)", though not musically. With "If He Should Break Your Heart", Perry and company manage to merge their sensibilities for ballads and hard rock into a seamless fusion of melodic excellent. Likewise, "Forever in Blue" is another up tempo-track, if a little bit slight. Although not a bad song persay, "Forever in Blue" is not nearly as substantial as some of the more weighty material that preceeds it.

We then get to "Castles Burning", a song that has haunted my conscious for years. "Castles Burning" details a celeberity marriage ending in chaos and literal fire. The marriage is marked with physical abuse. In our media-driven, fame obsessed culture, "Castles Burning" has only become more and more relevant to our cultural experience since its first release in 1996. The song also sounds like an update to The Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane", and is a logical conclusion to the lives that the characters from "Life in the Fast Lane" would lead.

This spot, "Castles Burning", is the part where in 1996 I would start skipping tracks or just get bored. I have always felt the first six songs are a very strong start, and even if "Forever In Blue" is a little slight (but still fun) and "When You Love a Woman" is a ballad, overall the album's first half holds together quite well. I just remember thinking wanting to resquence the album after "Castles Burning" ended. With these first six songs, we have the start of another classic album on par with their 1980s efforts.

But we're not finished. Not by a long shot. There are fourteen tracks total (with a bonus track and an exclusive Japanese track). The last half of the album is where it falls apart due to poor sequencing and overreliance on ballads. Now, there's nothing particularly wrong with the performances or the material. It's just almost all of them are ballads, and coming one after another the last half is just a slog to get through. These tracks [are the following sequence] comprise the last half of the album: "Don't Be Down on Me Baby", "Still She Cries", "Colors of the Spirit", "When I think of You", "Easy to Fall", "Can't Tame the Lion", "It's Just the Rain" "Trial by Fire", and "Baby I'm A Leavin' You"

Now, "Don't Be Down On Me Baby" is quite a bluesly number and is the first full-on schmaltz moment on the album. "Still She Cries" could quite comfortably work as one of the slower moments on "Escape" or "Infinity". "Colours of the Spirit" is one of the highlights with a vaguely new age, Enigma feel and with some great flute work. However, the sequencing of being covered by so many other ballads simply dulls the impact that this otherwise remarkable song would have on an average listener.

"When I Think of You" is another ballad with some great piano work. Typical Journey ballad that again would work quite well on one of their 1980s LPs, just like "Easy to Fall". "Can't Tame The Lion" is one of the only real up-tempo tracks found in the concluding sections of "Trial By Fire". "Can't Tame the Lion" is slight like "Forever in Blue", but likewise quite fun. "It's Just the Rain" is a redundant ballad with rain effects, especially in light of the far superior title cut, a moving, majestic slow torch song which also co-ops the rain audio for far better effect. However, by the time you get to "Trial By Fire" you simply aren't in the mood to hear ANOTHER SLOW SONG. The last half just feels like an exercise in tedium.

We then get to the weird, reggae secret track "Baby I'm A Leavin' You". The reggae is entirely out of touch with both Journey's style and the remaining material on the album; however, I don't really fault the band for this song. After all, the song introduces some much needed levity on the otherwise ballad top heavy record. Also, as a rule secret tracks are moments for the band to goof off. Look at the Johnny Matthis style "12 Gracious Melodies" off the otherwise grunge/alternative "Purple" (1993) by Stone Temple Pilots. That is a perfect example of the fun and levity a band can have with bonus or hidden, secret tracks.

So, for all that text, what's the bottom line? This: the album is top heavy on ballads, to the point where it's a chore to get through and makes for rather tedious listening. Fortunately, "When You Love a Woman", one of the better ballads, occurs early on and doesn't feel nearly as tedious as it would had the song occured in the last half of the album. On top of that, poor sequencing and over reliance on ballads drastically dulls the impact on otherwise truly surperb ballads (the otherworldly "Colors of the Spirt" and the stunning "Trial by Fire").

What I thought in 1996 and still think all these years later is songs need to be eliminated for the sake of the album, although like Brian Wilson with "SmiLE", I never actually determined that track listing, even back in 1996 and 1997. So, for the first time in sixteen years I am going to lay out a truncated track list that would not only greatly strengthened the album but make "Trial By Fire", an overlong album, be on par with their early 1980s classics.

1. "Message of Love"
2. "One More"
3. "When You Love a Woman"
4. "If He Should Break Your Heart"
5. "Forever in Blue"
6. "Castles Burning"
7. "I Can See It In Your Eyes"
8. "Easy to Fall"
9. "When I Fall"
10. "Can't Tame the Lion"
11. "Colors of the Spirit"
12. "Trial by Fire"

I eliminated three songs. "Don't Be Down on Me", "Still She Cries", and "When I Think of You". The album flows much better and makes for a much more interesting listening experience with these songs removed. If you are a fan of these tracks, then you can remove other tracks. Also if you want to put on "Baby I'm A Leavin' You" that's fine. I have only heard the Japanese bonus track "I Can See It In Your Eyes" via Youtube. Given how many ballads did make "Trial By Fire", it is an absolute mystery to me why "I Can See It In Your Eyes" was not included on the original release - it's a fantastic song.

Bottom line though is there are just so many ballads it drowns the record, turning Journey from a 1980s melodic rock icon with both excellent hard rock and [stunning] fantastic ballads to a dull adult contemporary band for removed from their true talents.
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on 21 September 2000
After a long period away from the studio they have returned with a truly awesome easy listening album. It plays well to all age groups and has the ability to become an all time favourite. Many great new songs from the most successful journey line up and just keeps getting better with each time it's played.
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on 5 October 2002
When You Love A Woman, It's Just The Rain and Trial By Fire are examples of the kind of fine songwriting rarely seen in a rock band. Steve Perry's voice is better than ever, soulful, soaring, Neal Schon is brilliant (and would be hapy to tell you so, at length, I believe) Ross Valory is masterful on bass,
oh and there's a little cod reggae hidden track on the end, if you wait.
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on 14 June 2008
This album has really grown on me over the years, since its initial release in 1996, and I appreciate it more now than I did originally. Although Steve Perry's vocals were evidently not at their best at this point, he still sounds great. As this turned out to be his last ever Journey album, it's a fitting farewell to The Voice that helped take Journey to the top. It was also the last album for drummer Steve Smith.

Overall, it's a mixture of ballads and up-tempo songs, but there is an air of melancholy in some of the music, beautiful as it is, and I think it's one of their most 'spiritual' albums - certainly from the Perry era. It's very reflective and nostalgic. One of the songs (When I Think of You) maybe about Perry's late mother.

The re-mastered release with booklet also contains the bonus track I Can See It In Your Eyes, which is a great solid rock track with a brilliant uplifting solo from Neal. The original bonus track Baby I'm a Leaving You, a fun 'reggae' number, which was hidden as an extension to the final song Trial By Fire, is included as a stand-alone track.

For true fans and collectors: some of these songs (most notably Colors of the Spirit and Can't Tame The Lion) almost sound like they've been re-mixed, so this is definitely a re-master, and not just a re-issue. A worthwhile addition to your Journey collection.
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