The reason Steve Perry is curiously absent from this Journey album is that he had yet to join the band. 1977’s Next was Journey’s third studio album. Where its preceding LPs had presented a fusion of jazz and progressive rock similar to later Soft Machine recordings, this one marked a departure. From the opening “Spaceman,” you can hear the band start to hammer out the stadium-friendly rock that would be fleshed out on its next album, Infinity, with the addition of Perry. Although the band was reining in its prog tendencies, Journey still jammed out most of these songs past the four-minute mark, unbending to pop radio’s demand for three-minute hits. As a result, standout songs like “People” and “I Would Find You” play like a less complicated sibling to Rush, with sharper pop hooks that would become more honed with Perry’s subsequent arrival on the microphone.

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