Feature: Albums that time forgot…THE STORM (Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Steve Smith)

The Storm - 1991

Interscope/Atlantic 1991

The Storm is very much a case of “what we did in our down time”.  With Journey on hiatus in the late eighties Neal Schon formed Bad English then Hardline (debut album Double Eclipse in 1992) whilst Journey alumni  Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory and Steve Smith formed a band with Kevin Chalfant (vocals) and Josh Ramos (guitars).

Chalfant and Valory had already worked together (The Vu) and their songs came to the attention of producer Beau Hill (Winger, Ratt) and Jimmy Iovine who had recently started the Interscope Records label.

Many will think this offering Journey-lite without Schon’s incendiary guitar and Steve Perry’s vocals although Chalfant (and Ramos) do a very good job.

Ross Valory: “There was a stigma attached to the band because people said ‘these are members of Journey, but it’s not Journey’. We didn’t gain the recognition we deserved. Record executives would say that although it was good music, it wasn’t really what they were selling at the time. They thought the demographic for The Storm were baby boomers.”

The Storm should be considered along with that Hardline debut and other contemporary albums such as Lou Gramm’s Shadow King.  It was like a last hurrah for melodic hard rock/AOR before the winds changed to the blast emanating from Seattle.

This really was the pinnacle of the genre and it is interesting to compare and contrast with the production line nature of much modern melodic rock.  I guess it’s a great combination of budget, musicianship and production/programming (Beau Hill/Bob Marlette).  Or was there just something in the air at this time?

The Storm
The Storm in 1991: (l to r) Kevin Chalfant, Gregg Rolie, Ross Valory, Josh Ramos and Steve Smith

The album opens appropriately with crackling thunder and the energising ‘You Keep Me Waiting’ whilst ‘In The Raw’ has a ‘Money For Nothing-esque’ intro and straight into a humongous riff.  If you don’t get off on this you need to see your GP even if by video conference.  Ditto ‘Touch And Go’, whilst ‘Gimme Love’ is another slice of  late hair metal crunch.

There are several upbeat blasts of AOR such as ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ whilst ‘Show Me The Way’ and ‘Can’t Live Without Love’ are power ballads that made the Top 10 rock charts at the time. Gregg Rolie supplies the lead vocals on the mid-tempo ‘Still Loving You’.

A second album (with Ron Wikso on drums who replaced Smith when the band started touring) was in the can before the label switched their musical focus to gangsta rap (not grunge!) and therefore the band was dropped.  ‘Eye Of The Storm’ was later released by Music For Nations in 1996 and reissued by Krescendo in 2008.  The debut has not so far been reissued.

Ron Wikso told GRTR!’s Jason Ritchie in 2003 “As far as whether or not there will ever be another Storm album, who knows? At this point, unless there were some really compelling reason to do one, it doesn’t seem likely but I’ve learned never to rule things out.

Right now though, Gregg and I are really concentrating on the Gregg Rolie Band – and digging every minute of it – and Ross Valory is busy playing with Journey. Kevin has his own band, is playing with Alan Parsons and occasionally comes out and sings with us in the Gregg Rolie Band when we do some of the Journey material. I don’t really know what Josh is doing but, suffice it to say, there is nothing planned at the moment for The Storm.”

Kevin Chalfant told Jason Ritchie in 2002 that he’d love to see The Storm reform and, yes, there were unreleased tracks.  GRTR!’s melodic rock expert Andy Nathan reviewed Chalfant’s 2016 gig at the Rockingham Festival commenting: “The Storm … really cemented his reputation as an AOR demi god.”

The Storm effectively petered out with Smith and Valory rejoining Journey in 1995.  Rolie has followed a solo career since then including spells with Ringo Starr and Santana. Chalfant and Ramos formed a band called Two Fires with a debut release in 2000.

© 2007-2021 David Randall.  All rights reserved.

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 26 September 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.

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