Sojourn- "Lookin' for More" and "From Different Points of View" notes:
Although most of the members of Sojourn have known each other since childhood, the band did not solidify until the early 1980s when guitarist Doug Robinson joined popular cover band Roundabout who had been breaking original material into their set to good reaction. Sojourn as an all originals band built up a strong local following, even winning a radio station sponsored Battle of the Bands contest, and quickly set about recording their debut album - "Lookin' for More" - in March 1985 at the studio of the Osmond's live drummer! The recording of all the basic tracks speedily took place in a day while overdubbing followed over the next two to three months to complete the project. Initially the album was released solely on tape in November 1985, but with provincial sales under their belts a vinyl version followed in March of the next year.
One listen to the debut album shows a band steeped in the tradition of quality US 1970s melodic rock but with a harder edge and conviction that was pure 1980s. Sojourn in many ways sounded like a development of the sound of bands like Kansas and Styx, and pomp rock bands like Roadmaster and even Saga. Although only featuring eight tracks, the songs ranged from crisp rockers like the title track and "We were so Young" through to the out-and-out pomp rock of the anthemic "Healing Wings" which was a real high point in their song-writing skills.
For the rest of the 1986 the band kept plugging away with local shows, including an opening slot with Mr. Mister at Brigham Young University. By October of 1986, the release had also been picked up for wider distribution by Important Distributors, which led to the album being available in Europe on import. With positive reviews in the European press the album sold steadfastly on import at a time when bands with an equivalent melodic AOR/pomp sound like Sugarcreek (later to be "The Creek") were much in demand.
With the band's line-up expanded to a five piece with Kevin Stoker on keyboards, things looked good for the band as they commenced recording of their second album, "From Different points of View", in Santa Barbara California in March 1987. The songs were stronger and more consistent than the debut, but on completion of the project the band were clearly disgruntled with the production and final mix which did not entirely do justice to their compelling sound.
Several remixes took place. But, the band were still unsatisfied and the release was delayed, though the Survivor-like power ballad "In the City" did surface on the AOR Basement compilation album "Hot Night in the City" (FM-Revolver, 1989) in Europe. Clearly frustrated, the band returned to the studio in Utah where the debut had been conceived, and recorded another new track: the fittingly titled, storming "Back to Work".
After much debate, the band then released the preliminary first mix of "From Different Points of View" on cassette in late 1989 with the aforementioned "Back to Work" added. While far from a perfect interpretation of the band, the quality of the songs was still clear and the first mix was still closest to the band's true sound. A CD release was also planned but never came to fruition.
This frustrating period for the band took its toll. The band dissolved, like many a band that has put their heart and soul into a album of their best material only for it to fail to find the audience, recognition and appreciation it merited.
Bass player Dane Spencer plus lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Bullock stayed together, however, and set about shaping their own "Spencer/Bullock" project. While still recognisable linked to Sojourn, the two explored a more variegated set of material from acoustic driven midwest rock, through complex instrumentals and back to some melodic hard rock. With dogged persistence the two stuck to their musical guns and eventually signed a deal with US label Touchwood which had already gained plaudits for releasing the solo album from former Bad Company singer Brian Howe. Their debut release will emerge in the first quarter of 1998 and even features a reworked version of Sojourn's "Healing Wings".
However, after the frustration of "From Different Points of View", Sojourn is still a band with unfinished business. Sparked by interest in their back catalogue material, the band returns to the studio in April of 1998 to commence the recording of an all new album mixing songs from their first inception that were never recorded for "Lookin' for More" and more recent tracks. A release date is still to be confirmed but is expected to be in early 1999. Spencer/Bullock will continue with Sojourn operating as a side project and the late 1990s looks like being a productive period for the band members.
Examining Sojourn's back catalogue material as this compilation does, shows all the positive aspects of the band. And at a time when melodic rock has been pushed underground the material has added value and longevity.
Ian McIntosh, February 1998(Ian McIntosh was the founder of AOR Basement magazine in the mid-1980s - the first European magazine dedicated purely to the coverage of deserving melodic rock. Since 1995, AOR Basement has also been available as a free information service on the Internet at http://www.aorbasement.com/)