Steve Perry has enjoyed revisiting songs from his time with Journey in recent years, updating "Only the Young" and "Separate Ways" in an innovative fashion. Sometimes, the opportunities present themselves in unusual ways.

That was the case when he found out that his longtime friend Trev Lukather had plans to record an updated version of "It Could Have Been You" -- originally a deep track from 1986's Raised on Radio -- with his band, The Effect. The California band has a finished album in the can and they've already released several singles, including "Toxic Envy" earlier this year.

Still, Lukather found himself thinking about "It Could Have Been You." He decided he wanted to take a crack at it. But he also wanted to know that Perry would approve of what they had done. Before he knew it, Perry was in the studio with them, adding his legendary voice to their new version. It was a moment which gave the singer a chance to go back to a song from his past that he terms as "a diamond in the rough."

"He surprisingly mentioned 'It Could Have Been You' is one of his favorite tracks," Perry recalled on social media, and "I told him I felt the same. I then said, 'Why don't you record it?' He asked if I would sing on it if they did, I said, 'Of course, my most precious!'"

With The Effect heading out on tour with Billy Idol this week, Lukather and the band's vocalist, Emmett Stang, told Ultimate Classic Rock Nights host Matt Wardlaw about the experience -- and why Perry is where he is in the song's final mix.

People are freaking out about getting new music featuring Steve Perry. As you and I have talked about, Steve is a longtime friend of yours. How did you develop the arrangement for this new version of "It Could Have Been You" that we're hearing now?
Trev Lukather: I knew for it to be something that would sound like our band, we wanted to play with the chorus a little bit. Because the chorus, to me, was the only thing from the original that I was like, “Well, does that sound like something we would do?” We love the lyrics and all of the great hooks, so how do we make that us? It was one of those really scary moments. It’s like, there’s two ways this is going to go. When Perry hears this, he’s either going to love it or he’s going to hate it. And it’s the same thing with my father-in-law [Jonathan Cain, who co-wrote the song with Perry and Neal Schon].

There’s no in-between. What was so great is that they accepted our tweak. Perry was like, “Man, that’s so fresh and modern.” What I love about Perry and Jon, they’re open-minded [and realize] that we’re in the year 2024, we’re not in 1986 anymore. It’s like, “You guys brought this to 2024 in a fresh way.” The changes and everything came naturally for us. We put it together, literally, the night before we saw Steve and we did the drums. Production-wise, I knew I really wanted to present him something that he’s going to be able to listen to as a listener. We wanted to build it up. So Emmett actually sang the lead vocal. It was done when Perry heard it.

Emmett really just channeled his own voice, but also gave some serious love to Steve’s original [performance]. You know, there’s certain parts that even Steve said, “There’s too much of me,” like in the breakdown of the original. So we were like, “No, let’s make it more what Em would do.”

Emmett Stang: That was Trev looking out for me. Because I was stuck on, I mean, just his voice and what he does with it. I was walking to our session, having that in my mind. And Trev was going, “Dude, I want to hear you in this spot. Let’s make it The Effect.” The fact that Perry was hip to that? I mean, just to see his face listening to it for the first time…

Lukather: It was the best. I still bottle up that reaction every time.

Stang: Oh yeah.

Lukather: Obviously, you have Steve Perry in the room and he sounds like a million bucks, you want more. You’re like, “C’mon, man, do a verse!” But you know, what’s so cool about Steve -- he said, “I don’t want to step on what you guys are doing. I love what you’re doing [with the song]." We were able to get him to do as much as he felt comfortable doing -- he didn’t want to overstep what Emmett had done, because he loved his lead vocal. We tried and he was like, “No, man. Emmett sounds too good. Let me do this, then.” Then, he does the cool add-ons -- like, the second verse where Perry continues with two harmonies in the back and holds it out. It almost sounds like a reverse vocal, but that’s Perry’s technique and it was so killer! The fact is, this is something that we did something out of respect, love and fun. We [got] to work with the G.O.A.T. on vocals, which is really amazing.

Steve’s been doing something similar recently in the past few years with a couple of the Journey songs he’s updated like “Separate Ways” and “Only the Young,” so this fits really well in that vein. I think it’s probably very freeing, artistically for him to be able to do something like this.
Lukather: It was really cool, because even his ad-libs, you know, after the breakdown, when it comes in, you’re hearing him go in-between Emmett. He had this really cool idea he was messing with when he heard back the drums. I was like, “Well, why don’t we do that?” Like I said in my social media post, he shook the house.

Stang: It was incredible.

Lukather: One thing that people need to know is that Perry can still sing his ass off, okay? He doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. People think they deserve [that] in a weird way. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. He still has it and he gets excited working with younger artists, because it gives him that energy and that buzz to want to do [things like this].Who knows what he wants to do? More music? Another record? Whatever -- that’s up to him, man. People have to respect those boundaries and respect whatever he wants to do. But he’s still a powerhouse, man. I think that shows on this track. What’s so cool is Emmett channeled that. They worked so well together. Because Perry was in the mixing session too, by the way -- people should know that. Perry was there with us and [mixer] Will Brierre. All of the vocal balancing is the stamp of the man himself.

He was like….”It’s about The Effect, it’s not about me.” He believes in our band to want to do this and loved what we did. That’s his gift to us, being like, “I believe in you guys” and saying, like, “You guys deserve more than just being my backup band on a song.” So people should understand that this is something that wasn’t intended for Steve to be the lead singer. It was always, “Let me sprinkle my legendary fairy dust on this and make it something really cool for both the new fans and the old fans.” Like, younger people. We also chose a song that isn’t a greatest hit. It’s a deep cut, that’s one of my favorite Journey songs. It deserved to be heard. I think the younger crowds are going to hear it and go, “What is this?” But we are seeing a lot of love, with people accepting it. Because it’s a very drastic change from the original, too. We love the fact that people are digging it too.

Watch The Effect's Video for 'It Could Have Been You' 

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Gallery Credit: Ultimate Classic Rock Staff