Friday, December 27, 2019

Journey 11: Greatest Hits Live

Unlike the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, and other arena bands who reunited in the ‘90s, Journey did not tour to support their reunion album, which pissed off everyone in the band who wasn’t Steve Perry. Holograms hadn’t become an onstage thing yet, so Columbia did the next best thing in their power to cash in while they still could.
Greatest Hits Live cobbled a disc’s worth of live recordings from the Escape and Frontiers tours, effectively presenting a concert document in the form of a sequel to Captured. Some songs are repeated from that album, but Jonathan Cain did his homework and lived up to the challenge of replicating parts he didn’t write. The sequence is very much focused on the hits, but it is faithful to the shows in that “Lights” goes into “Stay Awhile” and “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” is dragged out to seven minutes.
The liner notes made a big deal of saying how the tapes were “discovered” by chance and had to be baked before they deteriorated completely, but some of the music had indeed appeared before. This was proven a handful of years later when a complete show from 1981, which got lots of airtime in the early days of MTV, was cleaned up for an official DVD, released with a companion CD that was eventually made available on its own. Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour gets a slight edge over its half-brother, being that the sequence is true and Steve’s inter-song “ad-libs” make better sense in context. You also get extended solo showcases from Jonathan, Neal Schon, and Steve Smith. The CD even has something the DVD doesn’t, that being a live version of “Hopelessly In Love (The Party’s Over)”. The cover art isn’t too imaginative, but at least it’s not as baffling as the scary bird lady who adorns Greatest Hits Live.

Journey Greatest Hits Live (1998)—3
Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour (2005)—

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