Journey – Escape – SUPER HOT STAMPER

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  • A killer copy that earned outstanding Double Plus (A++) grades on both sides – this copy was big and bold, just the way we like our Journey to sound
  • Double Plus means you get strong vocal presence, serious dynamics, good weight down low and big choruses that come really alive
  • A #1 album jam packed with hits: Don’t Stop Believin’, Stone in Love, Who’s Crying Now and Open Arms
  • 4 1/2 stars:”Outside of the singles, there is a certain electricity that circulates through the rest of the album. The songs are timeless, and as a whole, they have a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up, built from heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship.”

We’ve been trying (and failing) to find good sound on Journey records for close to a decade, and finally we have something to show for all that work — killer sound on their only Number One album, with monster jams like Don’t Stop Believin’, Stone in Love, Who’s Crying Now — the first three tracks on side one! — and the big closer for side two, Open Arms.

Most greatest-hits albums don’t even have that many good songs. Not sure how we’ll fare with the rest of their catalog, but this one is a good place to start if you’re a fan of the band.

The overall sound is so big and lively, open and clear, with an extended top end yet weighty down low and even — yes! — Tubey Magical.

The vocals on Who’s Crying Now are sweet and breathy like on practically no other copy you’ve heard. Texture without grit — now that’s hard to do on a Journey album. (Or Queen, see below.)

What to Listen For (WTLF) on Escape

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music? If the chorus on Don’t Stop Believin’ isn’t big, exciting and emotionally moving, you probably didn’t find it here.
  • The Big Sound alluded to above comes next. The truly exceptional copies extend wall to wall, with lots of depth, space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing. Transparency is, of course, part of the Big Sound. It allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, resolving the space and air around all the instruments.
  • The problem with many of the copies that are big and lively is that they often have edgy, gritty, hard vocals. Some copies are too dry and thin, lacking Tubey Magic (which is hard to come by on any 1981 album, let’s be honest) or, at the very least, richness in the midrange. If you have a rich copy you can really hear it on the piano. It will sound solid and full-bodied. A leaned-out piano is a sure sign of a leaned-out vocal.When it comes to the vocals on Escape, rich down low and sweet up top is the combination that brings out all the fun Arena Rock qualities the producers and engineers were clearly going for.
  • Extend the top and bottom — which is not easy to do; very few copies had the high-end extension of our shootout winner — and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Mike Stone

The producer and engineer for Escape is none other than Mike Stone, a name I was not familiar with until now. This was his first album with Journey after engineering all of Queen’s albums from the first through News of the World. If you hear some Queen in the music and sound of Escape it’s safe to say it’s not entirely accidental.

Nice to have your first album for the band go to Number One. The reverse is true for the former Santana-man Greg Rollie. As soon as he left the band, they hit it big. Their next three albums were all Top Five as well.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Don’t Stop Believin’ 
Stone in Love 
Who’s Crying Now 
Keep on Runnin’ 
Still They Ride

Side Two

Escape 
Lay It Down 
Dead or Alive 
Mother, Father 
Open Arms

AMG 4 1/2 Star Rave Review

Escape was a groundbreaking album for San Francisco’s Journey, charting three singles inside Billboard’s Top Ten, with “Don’t Stop Believing” reaching number nine, “Who’s Crying Now” number four, and “Open Arms” peaking at number two and holding there for six weeks.

Escape flung Journey steadfastly into the AOR arena, combining Neal Schon’s grand yet palatable guitar playing with Jonathan Cain’s blatant keyboards. All this was topped off by the passionate, wide-ranged vocals of Steve Perry, who is the true lifeblood of this album, and this band.

The songs on Escape are more rock-flavored, with more hooks and a harder cadence compared to their former sound. “Who’s Crying Now” spotlights the sweeping fervor of Perry’s voice, whose theme about the ups and downs of a relationship was plentiful in Journey’s repertoire. With “Don’t Stop Believing,” the whisper of Perry’s ardor is crept up to with Schon’s searing electric guitar work, making for a perfect rock song. One of rock’s most beautiful ballads, “Open Arms,” gleams with an honesty and feel only Steve Perry could muster.

Outside of the singles, there is a certain electricity that circulates through the rest of the album. The songs are timeless, and as a whole, they have a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up, built from heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship.

Artist Biography by William Ruhlmann

During their initial 14 years of existence (1973-1987), Journey altered their musical approach and their personnel extensively while becoming a top touring and recording band. The only constant factor was guitarist Neal Schon, a music prodigy who had been a member of Santana in 1971-1972.

The original unit, which was named in a contest on KSAN-FM in San Francisco, featured Schon, bassist Ross Valory, drummer Prairie Prince (replaced by Aynsley Dunbar), and guitarist George Tickner (who left after the first album). Another former Santana member, keyboard player and singer Gregg Rolie, joined shortly afterward. This lineup recorded Journey (1975), the first of three moderate-selling jazz-rock albums given over largely to instrumentals.

By 1977, however, the group decided it needed a strong vocalist/frontman and hired Steve Perry. The results were immediately felt on the fourth album, Infinity (1978), which sold a million copies within a year. (By this time, Dunbar had been replaced by Steve Smith.)

Evolution (1979) was similarly successful, as was Departure (after which Rolie was replaced by Jonathan Cain).

Following a live album, Captured (1981), Journey released Escape, which broke them through to the top ranks of pop groups by scoring three Top Ten hit singles, all ballads highlighting Perry’s smooth tenor: “Who’s Crying Now,” “Don’t Stop Believin’,” and “Open Arms.” The album topped the charts and sold millions.

Frontiers (1983), featuring the hit “Separate Ways,” was another big success, after which Perry released a double-platinum solo album, Street Talk (1984). When the group got back together to make a new album, Valory and Smith were no longer in the lineup and Raised on Radio (1986) was made by Schon, Perry, and Cain, who added other musicians for a tour.