Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Steve Perry 3: Greatest Hits

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Did the few hits Steve Perry had outside of Journey constitute a full album, particularly in a CD era that demanded a sequence at least an hour long? No, they didn’t. Yet to this day marketing geniuses still use the term “greatest hits” when they really mean “best of according to somebody’s whim.” Even more confusingly, the official title was Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased. The second half was correct, if a little too precise. (Bear with us, we’ll get there.)
The set duly kicks off with the four singles and/or radio hits from Street Talk, negating the need to own that album, plus “Go Away”, seemingly because it was the only other decent song on it. “You Better Wait” and “Missing You” represent For The Love Of Strange Medicine, but only after seven tracks not widely known.
As it turns out, he hadn’t been silent after Raised On Radio; rather, he completed a solo album in 1989 that (he says) was rejected by the label. Some of those songs had snuck out as the CD equivalent of B-sides to the Strange Medicine singles, where they were well received by the dozen or so people who heard them. While “Forever Right Or Wrong (Love’s Like A River)” and “Against The Wall” are a little overblown, they’re still catchy, just as “Melody”, “Once In A Lifetime Girl”, and “What Was” are decent pop fodder. “When You’re In Love (For The First Time)” and “Summer Of Luv” suggest that maybe the label was right, but the others have more staying power than most of Strange Medicine.
Back to the chronology, “I Stand Alone” is from the animated flop Quest For Camelot, the soundtrack of which put him in the company of Leann Rimes, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli, and the long-awaited collaboration of Eric Idle and Don Rickles. “It Won’t Be You”, denoted a “writing demo”, was one of those B-sides, but another, the expert “If You Need Me, Call Me”, is represented instead a 1977 track recorded by the band he was in before Journey. (The liner notes carefully list every single musician credit for all the songs.)
So with all that, the album title was half right. But while calling out the five “new” songs guaranteed sales to Journey fans who already had the Strange Medicine singles, it undersold the total contents, which weren’t all hits but weren’t complete dogs. Perhaps that’s why, when the album managed to be rereleased as part of a Journey catalog overhaul, the title was reduced to simply Greatest Hits, but with a bonus in the form on “Don’t Fight It”, a duet with Kenny Loggins that actually was a hit. (For those who have to have everything, 2009’s Playlist: The Very Best Of Steve Perry budget compilation repeats a dozen of the alleged greatest hits, and adds two more from Strange Medicine.)

Steve Perry Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased (1998)—3
2006 Greatest Hits reissue: same as 1998, plus 1 extra track

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