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Journey - Departure CD (album) cover

DEPARTURE

Journey

 

Prog Related

2.61 | 65 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Where to draw the line (of fire)?

Journey is a clearly controversial band here on Prog Archives and it is probably agreed by all that at least some of their albums lie wholly outside the scope of what can be called progressive rock. However, it is equally clear that some other albums of theirs can be called progressive in some sense or other, or at least that they bear some relation to Prog.

While the band's early albums were more in the Jazz-Rock/Fusion category a bit in line with Santana, their later albums were more AOR in line with bands like Styx. It is usually agreed that somewhere along the line, Journey sold out and left their progressive aspirations behind and ventured into more commercial areas of music. But the question is where to draw the line. Some progressive rock fans (probably those who lean towards Jazz-Rock/Fusion) argue that only the band's first three albums are really kosher from a progressive perspective and some purists say that the debut album is the only reason Journey is relevant for Prog Archives. Other Prog fans (those who prefer the harder rocking and more melodious sides of Prog) would rather favour albums like Infinity and perhaps even the present one. Personally, I lean toward the second camp, holding Infinity up as my favourite Journey album. On that album, the band maintained some of their progressive aspects and great guitar work, while combining it with good song writing and the excellent and distinctive lead vocals of Steve Perry. But after Infinity, the band started to drift further towards radio friendly Rock continuing through to the end of the 80's (I have not heard all these albums yet, though).

But while Infinity is the better album, in my opinion, Departure still has several nice moments proving to me that Journey should not be completely dismissed just yet. The chorus of the opening track can admittedly be rather tedious, but the verses are fine. Walks Like A Lady is a rambling, bluesy number that has nothing to do with Prog, of course, but it is not AOR either. People And Places is my favourite track on this album. It features Queen/Gentle Giant-like vocal harmonies and great lead vocals and lead guitar. Precious Time is another fine track that has traces of American Folk and blues featuring harmonica and, again, great vocals and guitar work.

Where Were You is another rather tedious song, particularly the lyrics are hard to tolerate. But the album once again presents a couple of decent songs with the ballad I'm Crying and the Rock 'N' Roll number Line Of Fire. The album's last four tracks form a kind of suite with the title track being an instrumental introduction before the almost Beatles-esque, symphonic ballad Good Morning Girl, the hit Stay Awhile and the throwaway album closer, Homemade Love.

Departure is by no means a great album, but it would be a mistake to be too harsh on this album as it offers some good moments. I will therefore not draw the "line of fire" before Departure and claim, like many others, that Journey had lost it already at this point. Not just yet. While fans of Santana and Jazz-Rock/Fusion should probably best stay away from this album, any Prog fan who appreciates melodic song based Rock with slight progressive aspects, good vocals and good lead guitar work should be able to find at least some enjoyment here.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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