Monday, May 21, 2012

"Evolution" by Journey (1979)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl.

Fun Fact: I am always tempted to send a SASE to the fan club address listed on the sleeve on the remote chance I can actually still get the t-shirt AND poster for five dollars.

Filed Between: Janis Joplin and Judas Priest

Obtained Via: A Gift from a Good Friend

Absurd Liner Note Quote:
"Those of you who aspire to a career in music should know that Columbia Records stands alone in the field of developing new artists, and seeking out young and gifted talent."  It seems like Journey is almost pranking their label by asking kids everywhere to submit unsolicited demo tapes.

Key Tracks:
When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy) - Neal proves he's always been the heart of Journey with his simple, awesome guitar.  This also happens to be the most rockin' track on the LP. Sweet and Simple is one of many great Journey ballads.

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:
Daydream screams "Look how prog we are!" but it never delivers anything to back it up.  I think this song is why Journey landed on the "Heavy Metal" soundtrack (which contains VERY LITTLE heavy metal music).

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:
Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

"Evolution" is considered by some to be a lesser Journey recording.  But the fact is, it's still a classic-era Journey recording - it's got interesting cover art; it's got slick, bombastic production; it's basically one big power bllad from beginning to end.  Oh, and they are one ugly bunch of dudes.

But they make solid, catchy music.  Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' cashes in on the seventies' fascination with the fifties.  It's a good enough song and made for a solid single for the band.  And it has that part where anybody can sing along, even if they've never heard the song before.  The infamous "nah nah, nah nah nah" is right up there with it's dubious cousin - the call and answer "hey!" - when it comes to instantaneous listener buy-in.

There are a lot of moments like that on "Evolution."  Yeah, it's obvious and it's a little hokey, but it's still just plain fun.  For example, I really like the quiet break that trickles into Lovin' You Is Easy.  The same goes for the vocalist change on Just the Same Way.  I have expressed my disdain for letting non-singers sing on LPs, but it works here for no real reason other than it's an interesting change of pace and it finds a really good classic rock groove.

So, is it an album?
Yes.  They say great minds think alike.  And (at least for a while) Neal Schon and Steve Perry were like minds.

Up next, get out your Aqua Net, for you are in the presence of hair rock royalty - it's "Slippery When Wet" by Bon Jovi.

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