Thursday, 16 May 2019

Journey - Escape (1981)

The smell of wine and cheap perfume....

Released July 1981

When this was released, new wave, post punk, two tone and new romantic were all the rage, yet somehow, AOR albums like this always sold well and found an audience. In a way it was a few years ahead of its time in its classic "arena rock" as it was called then. It was, unsurprisingly, huge in the USA and is one of the best-selling rock albums of all time.


1. Don't Stop Believin'
2. Stone In Love
3. Who's Crying Now
4. Keep On Runnin'
5. Still They Ride
6. Escape
7. Lay It Down
8. Dead Or Alive
9. Mother, Father
10. Open Arms                                                    

"Don't Stop Believin'" is my old punk's guilty pleasure and, you know what, I don't give a damn, it's bloomin' marvellous - the piano intro, that Neal Schon "diddly-diddly-diddly" guitar bit that gets louder and louder at 0.55 seconds onwards, then the power chords and, of course, Steve Perry's classic soft-rock vocal. Love it. Sorry. It is a genuine rock anthem. "Some will win, some will lose, some are born to sing the blues...." is one of the great rock lyrics of all time. Now get that air guitar out, man. Everyone becomes a rock star for a few minutes while this is on. Even me.

"Stone In Love" is almost as good, with a wonderful riffy opening and another killer vocal from Perry. More air guitar opportunities and hairbrush singing opportunities abound here. "Who's Crying Now" is also instantly recognisable by its keyboard melody and laid-back AOR chorus and ambience in general. It again is a classic of its genre. The solid rock of "Keep On Runnin'" has Perry adopting that traditional high-pitched heavy rock vocal style. "Still They Ride" slows down the pace a little with a big production, grandiose rock ballad.

The riffage is back with the rocking, upbeat title track. There is some great instrumentation on this as well, rollicking piano, jabbing synths and pounding drums. Great stuff. "Lay It Down" is simply another copper-bottomed chunky rocker. "Dead Or Alive" is a regular rocker of the kind Mott The Hoople spin-off Mott did a lot of in the mid-seventies. "Mother, Father" is probably the album's weakest number, being a little bit ponderous and overbearing. "Open Arms" is an anthemic closer.

This really was Journey's finest half-hour, there is not a duff track on this album. Of its type, it's fantastic.


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