“By 1977 Journey had reached a creative crossroads, with three underwhelming studio albums under their belt and little to show in the way of commercial success. At the prodding of manager Herbie Herbert, who felt a major shakeup was needed in order to reignite their spark, the band was convinced to audition and eventually recruit the services of former Alien Project vocalist Steve Perry” (Franck). He “was not a unanimous choice as Journey’s new singer” (Classic Rock Magazine). “Journey briefly enlisted front man Robert Fleischman and even recorded one track, ‘For You’, which would later appear on the Time 3 collection” (JourneyMusic.com). “But when Perry presented the bluesy Lights to the band, everyone sensed the possibilities” (Classic Rock Magazine).
“Sure enough, adding him to the band just prior to the sessions for Infinity proved to be a stroke of genius, and a move that undeniably altered the course of history for the fledging Bay Area act. Released in January of 1978, Infinity easily proved to be the band’s most cohesive work to date. Dead and buried were the jazz fusion overtones of previous offerings, and with the new songwriting combo of Perry/ Neal Schon leading the march, the band set out to completely redefine their sound. Traditional pop arrangements were now adopted, cutting out the unnecessary musical fat, and allowing each bandmember to play to his strength: Perry’s soaring, whale of a voice, Schon’s scorching fret work, and Gregg Rolie’s subtle keyboard arrangements” (Franck).
“Enlisting eccentric producer Roy Thomas Baker (already famous for guiding the likes of Queen and Nazareth to giant commercial triumphs of their own) also proved to be a rewarding move for the boys” (Franck). Baker “produced a layered sound approach, similar to his work with Queen, as demonstrated on tracks such as Winds of March” (JourneyMusic.com). “The re-focused Journey delivered their first set of accessible mainstream rock songs” (Classic Rock Magazine).
“Tellingly, ‘Lights’ was chosen as Infinity’s opening track – an introduction to the new Journey – and it remains one of the band’s best-loved songs, as does this album’s Wheel in the Sky” (Classic Rock Magazine), which was actually “written by temporary front man Fleischman” (JourneyMusic.com). “Even non-singles like Patiently (the first tune Perry ever wrote with Schon) and Somethin’ to Hide were leaps and bounds beyond the band’s previous accomplishments” (Franck).
“And, ultimately, though Infinity merely introduced the band to mainstream radio (it was the never-ending tour on which the band embarked on to support it that drove the disc past the platinum plateau), it effectively cemented their rep as one of America’s most beloved (and sometimes hated) commercial rock/pop bands. With over 170 shows under their belts, Journey had just begun to hit their stride” (Franck).