Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Journey 3: Evolution

The only evolution on the album called Evolution is that Journey had a new drummer in jazz cat Steve Smith, Aynsley Dunbar having moved across San Francisco to pound the skins for Jefferson Starship. Otherwise, it’s the same formula that saved the band on the last album: arena-friendly anthems produced by Roy Thomas Baker.
There’s something of an overture in “Majestic”, a flutter of acoustic strings beaten aside by heavy chords and wordless vocals. “Too Late” is the requisite cautionary tale for one living too fast, too free, not to be confused with the dire warnings in “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’”. On the original LP and some CDs the a cappella ending segues immediately to the similar opening for “City Of The Angels” (hey, it worked for the last album). “When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)” says all it needs to say within and without the parentheses. Luckily, Steve Perry knew the importance of keeping things “Sweet And Simple”, and that song is a better use for his pen and high octaves.
As they were apparently paid by the apostrophe, “Lovin’ You Is Easy” doesn’t seem like much at first, but there are some good changes in the chorus, continued under the solo, and there’s a nice piano break too. “Just The Same Way” lets Gregg Rolie take a lead vocal, supported prominently by Perry until he elbows him aside for the bridge. “Do You Recall” doesn’t sound like it took that long to write, but just like side two of the last album we have a crossfade into the next track. “Daydream” is slower than the rest of the album, so it’s longer, and some of the synth patterns are more jarring than evocative. Finally, “Lady Luck” is a heavy track that’s better than its lyrics.
So again, Evolution is more of an affirmation, as Journey knew what would keep the cash rolling in. The singles were good, and some of the more boneheaded tracks don't hold water, but as long as they kept to the script they’d be fine. And they were.

Journey Evolution (1979)—3

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