Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just a city boy....

So for my first actual blog post, I debated whether to tackle issues that concern me, such as the generally disfunctional state of society, or the horrendous way that we as Americans treat education, or my belief that the school year should be year-round, or...something like that. 

However, upon further rumination, I decided to write about...


Y'see, I was going through some archaic stuff that I had "liberated" from my Mom's house recently, and, running across my 1983 Journey wall calendar, I realized that the calendar year 1983 matches this year.  Weird eh?  And, investigating further, I noticed that, according to the handy notation on the calendar, tomorrow, July 1st, 2011, marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Journey's ESCAPE album.

ESCAPE...the one with "Don't Stop Believin'."

Thought that might ring a bell.

In 1981, I was ALL ABOUT Journey.  I would venture to say they were my first favorite band (this might be revisionist history, but I'm sticking by it).  I was 13 in 1981, and had been listening to them for awhile.  I already had some earlier 45s, and a couple of earlier albums in my burgeoning collection of LPs.  Anyway, I got ESCAPE right around the time it was released.  I remember being disappointed when I was looking at the liner notes and realized that they had changed keyboardists, because I really dug Gregg Rolie's vocals on previous records.  But, to me, at that point in time, the record was so incredibly stunningly awesome that I was quickly able to cope with the line-up change.  I had a t-shirt (wish I still had it, though I'm sure it would be more my daughter's size after three decades). I had posters of the album art. I doodled the bug spaceship from the cover all over my school notebooks. I practiced drawing the logo -- the band name is turned sideways and elongated, and the the album title is actually spelled out "E5C4P3".

I had the "Journey Escape" video game for my Atari 2600!!

I even made a stuffed felt christmas tree ornament of the bug ship in art class. 


(Someday I will find it and revel in its glory.)

Anyway, the other day, I listened to ESCAPE again while driving hither and yon.  Forty-three year-old me doesn't quite hold it in as high a regard as thirteen year-old me did, but it still moves me.  "Don't Stop Believin'" is, of course, a timeless song; it's an inspirational burst of pop-rock perfection that still resonates all these years and generations later.  The rest of the album -- I could do a play-by-play of the songs, but I won't -- hell, it's a great rock record.  Dated?  Sure.  Cheesy?  Perhaps, through jaded 21st Century Eyes.  Sing-along-able?  Catchy?  Well-crafted?  Yes, yes, and yes.  Radio-friendly?  Guilty.

Anyway, after ESCAPE, I got more "teen" and had discovered the glories of heavy metal (KILLERS and HIGH N' DRY and Priest and Rainbow and Sabbath and....) by the time Journey released FRONTIERS in '83.  It would have been impossible, methinks, for FRONTIERS to live up to ESCAPE for me, because the latter hit me at "that moment in time" (ahem...puberty?) and imbedded itself in my soul.  So I listened to FRONTIERS less, thought less of it, wasn't impressed by the "'80s-ness" of the album cover and Steve Perry's short hair.  I never even bought the next album, RAISED ON RADIO, and really didn't even think about them again until the mid-'90s when I got the CD boxed set.  The '90s reunion album TRIAL BY FIRE, well...I've listened to once.

I DID get excited when they picked a new singer (Steve Augeri) for 2001's ARRIVAL.  It was a vital, VERY good album, and it really renewed my interest in the band.  GENERATIONS flagged a bit, in my opinion, but was still solid.  I LOVE the two albums with new singer Arnel Pineda (REVELATIONS and ECLIPSE). 

Thirty years after ESCAPE, here I am, still caring enough to write about the band.   They may never have been "critical darlings", and they haven't garnered admission to the questionable ranks of the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame".  But that's immaterial to me.

I've added many bands to my "favorite bands" list since 1981, but Journey are still on the list, and certainly aren't scraping the bottom.