Journey – Evolution

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  • An insanely good sounding copy with Triple Plus (A+++) sound on the second side and Double Plus (A++) sound on the first – (mostly) exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Three distinctive qualities of vintage analog recordings – richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality – are most clearly heard on a Big Production Rock Record like Evolution in the loudest, densest, most climactic choruses of the songs, and this side one delivers that size and power like no copy you’ve ever heard
  • “Journey could seemingly do no wrong. Evolution quickly became the band’s biggest-selling album, and Perry and co. soon embarked on yet another mammoth tour, which set many an attendance record, and set the stage for even greater triumph with 1980’s Departure.”

This vintage Columbia pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What outstanding sides such as these have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1979
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

What We Listen For on Evolution

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

Choruses Are Key

Three distinctive qualities of vintage analog recordings — richness, sweetness and freedom from artificiality — are most clearly heard on a Big Production Rock Record like Evolution in the loudest, densest, most climactic choruses of the songs.

We set the playback volume so that the loudest parts of the record are as huge and powerful as they can possibly become without crossing the line into distortion or congestion. On some records, Dark Side of the Moon comes instantly to mind, the guitar solos on Money are the loudest thing on the record.

On Breakfast in America the sax toward the end of The Logical Song is bigger and louder than anything on the record, louder even than Roger Hodgson’s near-hysterical multi-tracked screaming “Who I am” about three quarters of the way through the track. Those, however, are clearly exceptions to the rule. Most of the time it’s the final chorus of a pop song that gets bigger and louder than what has come before.

A pop song is usually designed to build momentum as it works its way through the verses and choruses, past the bridge, coming back around to make one final push, releasing all its energy in the final chorus, the climax of the song. On a good recording — one with real dynamics — that part of the song should be very loud and very powerful.

The climax of the biggest, most dynamic songs are almost always the toughest tests for a pop record, and it’s the main reason we play our records loud. The copies that hold up through the final choruses of their album’s largest scaled productions are the ones that provide the biggest thrills and the most emotionally powerful musical experiences one can have sitting in front of two speakers. Our Top 100 is full of records that reward that kind of intense listening at loud levels.

We live for that sound here at Better Records. It’s precisely what the best vintage analog pressings do brilliantly. In fact they do it so much better than any other medium that there is really no comparison, and certainly no substitute. If you’re on this site you probably already know that.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Majestic
Too Late
Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
City Of The Angels
When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)
Sweet And Simple

Side Two

Lovin’ You Is Easy
Just The Same Way
Do You Recall?
Daydream
Lady Luck

AMG Review

With the platinum triumph of Infinity still ringing in their ears like coins in a slot machine, Journey was now committed to completing their transformation from jazz fusion/prog rock mavens into arena rock superstars with their fifth album, 1979’s Evolution.

… with Steve Perry’s tenor pipes now clearly driving the band’s engine, and guitarist Neal Schon beginning to relish in his guitar-hero persona, Journey could seemingly do no wrong. Evolution quickly became the band’s biggest-selling album (moving over 800,000 units in less than three months), and Perry and co. soon embarked on yet another mammoth tour, which set many an attendance record, and set the stage for even greater triumph with 1980’s Departure.

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.

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