Journey: Journey (1st LP)

Journey is the third and best group to grow out of the original Santana. Unlike Azteca and Malo, it's not merely a spinoff. Keyboardist and singer Gregg Rolie and lead guitarist Neal Schon — both formerly with Santana — have come up with a more energetic and less contemplative music than Carlos Santana has been making lately. The rhythm section is led by Aynsley Dunbar's complex and experienced drumming, while producer Roy Halee has contributed to the group's original sound by placing Rolie's piano within the rhythm section and leaving Schon's guitar as lead instrument. His sensitive mix prevents the lackluster vocals from intruding on the band's instrumental strength. "To Play Some Music" is the album's most commercial cut, while "Topaz" breaks away from the steady rock format with some bluesy sentiment. A strong beginning.