How You Can Reassemble Steve Perry’s Lost ‘Against the Wall’ LP
To say there are gaps in Steve Perry’s discography is an understatement — one need only recall the 24-year space between 1994’s For the Love of Strange Medicine and the recently announced Traces to understand that the man takes his time between records.
There’s an earlier gap, though, that carries with it an interesting tale.
Perry’s first solo album, 1984’s Street Talk, was followed in relatively quick succession by Journey’s Raised on Radio, which came out in 1986. There followed an eight-year period of silence — public silence, at least. As it happens, Perry had been working on not one, but two albums in that time, only one of which (the aforementioned Strange Medicine) saw release as he had conceived it.
The other album was recorded under the working title Against the Wall, and it was intended to be Perry’s second solo LP. Perry began working on the album in the time between Street Talk and Raised on Radio, but set it aside to return to the Journey fold.
That’s when things went sideways for the band. Relations between Perry and guitarist Neal Schon soured, and bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith were dismissed from the group, to be replaced by Randy Jackson and Larrie Londin, respectively.
Most tragically, Perry’s mother died during the making of Raised on Radio, leaving him devastated, yet still responsible to finish the album and tour behind it.
“She was dying during the writing and recording of that record,” Perry told GQ, “and in the middle of doing vocals, she died. So I came home, took care of that, went back, finished the vocals and stuff, and before I know it, we’re on tour. And by the end of that tour, I was toast.”
Journey shut down for 10 years after that tour (with the exception of a brief, one-off live performance), and Perry went off on his own to rest and recharge. Eventually, he returned to working on Against the Wall.
Eleven songs had been completed when, according to Neil Daniels’ book Don’t Stop Believin’: The Untold Story of Journey, a rift opened between Perry and his record company, Sony Music (which had bought Columbia Records, home of Street Talk and all of Journey’s albums). Disagreements over the direction of the record led to Against the Wall being shelved.
In a 1991 interview, Perry indicated that another reason might have been in play, as well.
“I started the 'record thing,' you know, tracking, overdubs, vocals, mixing, etc.,” he said. “During this time, my life began to change, and when I finished, I realized that some of the things I feel today were not reflected in the total picture as I looked back at the project."
Eventually, Perry moved on to write, record and release a whole new set of songs -- which ended up on For the Love of Strange Medicine.
The Against the Wall material has surfaced, though — just not all together. Seven songs from the project made it onto Perry’s 1998 compilation Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased, while three additional cuts were included in the 2006 re-release of For the Love of Strange Medicine. A final song came out as a B-side on the maxi-single for Strange Medicine’s “Missing You.”
So, with a little digging, you can build your own version of Against the Wall. Sequence it however you like, but here's one suggestion:
Steve Perry, ‘Against the Wall’ Proposed Track Listing
"Against the Wall" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"Summer of Luv" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"If You Need Me, Call Me" (For the Love of Strange Medicine 2006 reissue bonus track)
"What Was" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"Forever Right or Wrong (Love's Like a River)" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"Can't Stop" (For the Love of Strange Medicine 2006 reissue bonus track)
"Once in a Lifetime, Girl" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"Melody" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"When You're in Love (For the First Time)" (from Greatest Hits + Five Unreleased)
"It Won't Be You" (B-side of “Missing You” maxi-single)
"Friends Of Mine" (For the Love of Strange Medicine 2006 reissue bonus track)