To those listeners outside of Syracuse New York, where Benny Mardones lives, he makes clear that he is, in his own words, "a superstar," playing to audiences of thousands on a regular basis. The fact that Benny Mardones has a documentary about his rise, fall, and comeback is a shocker. But there is a documentary, and there are thousands of Mardones' fans out there, nearly all of them won over by "Into the Night," his 1980 ballad that was a top 20 hit twice in the '80s -- peaking at number 11 the year of its release, and making it to number 20 in a re-recording in 1989 -- and the song has been a staple of American radio, earning over four million spins in the U.S. according to ASCAP. "Into the Night" is an enduring single whose popularity is greater than its chart position, and its status was helped considerably by the support of the radio talk show host Delilah, who kept it as a staple on her adult contemporary syndicated talk show.
There was an audience for Mardones' documentary, by the way. It is a phenomena that has only been shown at screenings and, as of this writing in May 2003, has not been released theatrically or on video -- and that audience of diehard fans is the same audience that will be interested in this almost-soundtrack, a collection of 13 songs from Mardones' career. This functions a bit as a musical biography, but it's a newly-written one, since all of the songs are new recordings. Mardones takes the tactic of recording songs that are important to him, whether they're new songs or covers, illustrating their significance in his liner notes. These range from "Into the Night," of course (so significant, it's here twice, including in a new acoustic version), the Temptations' "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," "I Want It All" (which was written for Benny by Barbara Orbison and Jörgen Elofsson), as well as a host of other album tracks. It's cleanly produced, but not extravagantly so, and Mardones sings with conviction, giving this real spine; if the new version of "Into the Night" is not a patch on the original -- which, even if it flies under the radar, is so popular for a reason -- it is hardly embarrassing, and the acoustic version reveals that Mardones can still breathe life into a song he's sung countless times. Throughout Journey Through Time he does this, singing his past as if it were his present. This may not win over doubters -- after all, his powerful arena rock voice may have limited appeal -- but for fans, this is a revealing and successful look back at his career, and a worthy companion to the documentary which, unfortunately, has yet to be released on video.