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Journey Escape [Aka: E5C4P3] album cover
2.86 | 143 ratings | 17 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Don't Stop Believing (4:10)
2. Stone In Love (4:25)
3. Who's Crying Now (5:01)
4. Keep On Runnin' (3:39)
5. Still They Ride (3:49)
6. Escape (5:16)
7. Lay It Down (4:13)
8. Dead Or Alive (3:20)
9. Mother, Father (5:28)
10. Open Arms (3:18)

Total time 42:39

Bonus tracks on 2006 remastered reissue:
11. La Raza Del Sol (B-side) (3:26)
12. Don't Stop Believin' (Live *) (4:19)
13. Who's Crying Now (Live *) (5:44)
14. Open Arms (Live *) (3:23)

* Recorded in Houston 11/6/1981

Line-up / Musicians

- Steve Perry / lead vocals
- Neal Schon / guitars, vocals
- Jonathan Cain / keyboards, guitar, vocals
- Ross Valory / bass, vocals
- Steve Smith / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Stanley Mouse

LP Columbia- TC 37408 (1981, US)

CD CBS- CK 37408 (1983, US)
CD Columbia- 486662 2 (1996, Europe) Remastered by Bob Ludwig & Brian Lee
CD Legacy- 82876 85897 2 (2006, US) Remaster reissue with 4 bonus tracks

Thanks to Ricochet for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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JOURNEY Escape [Aka: E5C4P3] ratings distribution

(143 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(36%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (18%)
Poor. Only for completionists (9%)

JOURNEY Escape [Aka: E5C4P3] reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Guillermo
4 stars I have to say that I never have listened to their first three albums which were recorded before Steve Perry joined the band. I have read reviews which say that those three albums were really considered as being in the Progressive Rock style. It was until mid 1981 when a cousin lent me one of their albums recorded with Perry before Jonathan Cain joined the band. The album was called "Evolution", but I didn`t like that album very much then.

It was until 1982 when I listened to their song called "Open Arms" in a FM Radio station in my city that I wanted to buy this album titled "Escape", being this album their first recorded with Jonathan Cain on keyboards, rhythm guitars and backing vocals, and also as one of the main composers in the band (with Neal Schon and Steve Perry being the other two main composers). I have to say that I don`t consider this album as having Progressive Rock influences in most parts, but it is a very good album in the Arena Rock style which was mostly a successful fad in the eighties.

With Journey`s three first albums being Progressive Rock in style as I have read in reviews, and with those albums not being very popular in sales, maybe the record label was demanding Hit Singles from the band, so they had to change their musical style. First, they recruited a lead singer called Robert Fleischman, who, apart from being in the band for three or four months in mid 1977, played some concerts with them and also co-wrote some songs which were recorded in their next album, but by that time with lead singer Steve Perry in the band. I consider Steve Perry as one of the best lead singers in Rock, with also being in that list Lou Gramm from the band Foreigner and Boston`s great late lead singer Brad Delp. By early 1981, Gregg Rollie, the original keyboard player and lead singer in the band left them, suggesting them to recruit Jonathan Cain as their new keyboard player. So after this they recorded this very successful album called "Escape".

I bought this album in the autumn of 1982, being a teenager then. I was very impressed then by the good quality of the music and the playing in this album. It has a lot of Intense songs. Songs sung and played with feeling with great lead guitars and the great voice of Perry.

Song by song:

"Don`t Stop Believing": a "power ballad" with piano and lead guitar with very good lead vocals. Also the backing vocals are good.

"Stone in Love": a song played with Schon and Cain on guitars and a bit of keyboards. Again, Schon plays an energetic lead guitar part.

"Who`s Crying Now": another ballad played a lot on FM Radio stations. Very good keyboards and lead guitar. Ross Valory also shines on bass guitar.

"Keep on Runnin`": a Hard-Rock / Heavy Rock song played with guitars too and no keyboards.

"Still They Ride": one of the best songs in this album, another Hard-Rock / Power Ballad with great lead vocals by Perry and an excellent lead guitar by Schon.

"Escape": a song about teenage runaways which is good.

"Lay It Down": another Hard- Rock song played with guitars. Schon is one of the most intense lead guitar players I have listened to. This is one of the more Heavy songs in this album.

"Dead or Alive": another Hard-Rock song, this time with lyrics about a Male Professional Killer which in the end is killed by a more skilled Female Professional Killer.

"Mother, Father": one of the best, maybe the best song in this album, and the song which mostlly has Prog Rock influences. Schon again plays a very intense lead guitar, maybe his best in this album, with great lead vocals by Perry too, and energetic drums by Steve Smith.

"Open Arms": a very good and very mellow "sugar ballad" which apparently only Perry and Cain (the composers) liked, and it seems that it almost didn`t appear in this album. But it became one of their biggest hits.

In conclusion, this album is not very Progressive Rock in style, but is very good anyway. It is maybe thier best album from their years with Steve Perry as lead singer.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is considered as the best album of Journey by those youngsters who knew the band since Steve Perry joined or, to be precise, after the music changed dramatically from the first three albums. This band has been intensely discussed in the rock community where I am involved, as band that inspired glam rock movement in the eighties. All songs contained here are melodic AOR music with some heavy elements especially through guitar work. The root of the music is basically pop rock with straight forward structure and no curved lines in the music. Songs like "Stone In Love" has short guitar solo that makes many people like the music. The opening track "Don' Stop Believing" also features stunning guitar solo. Of course the main attraction is not the guitar, in the ears of glam rockers, but it's probably on the melodic and straight forward composition of the music. One thing that I think is noticeable : the excellent performance of bass work by Ross Valory.

For me personally, I was not really involved in the development of the band during the eighties because the music by that time tended to be oriented towards pop rock. But of course I heard "Who's Crying Now" from local radio play which was regular menu for radio airtime. But again, I never paid attention to it because I was not into that kind of music. In fact, knowing the band's debut album, I was not aware that was Journey's song.

Overall, this is a good pop rock album which most songs are catchy and easy listening. For prog heads, it's actually not the kind of music that you aspire to listen to, but for a break from complex music, eg. eclectic prog, this might be one of the options. If you are hard rock fans, you can also enjoy this album even though it's not as heavy as Led Zeppeling or Black Sabbath or Deep Purple. But the most important thing is .. you still keep on proggin'.!!! And don't change your music direction like Jouney did in their fourth album.

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Journey reached with this 1981 album Escape the peak of their career. Musicaly this album is a cross between AOR and pop with hard rock in places, but not bad for sure. This was my first introduction to Journey's music along with another big album of them Look into the future, so i considered both albums to be their best. Quite diffrent to each other, musicaly. The most popular album of the band with more than 9 million copys sold world wide, Journey established themselfs as one of the big acts of the early '80's, a period when band was very prolific. About the music, this is a very pleasent album, but not from a prog view, but for a music listner in general. Some pieces are real pleasure to listen like the opening track Don't stop beliving, is like an anthem of the '80's, and still a tune played by the band today, Who's Crying Now , the voice of Perry and guitar of Schon shines here, excellent piece, the smooth Still They Ride, awesome the voice lines and Mother, Father, the rest are ok. Jonathan Cain is the new member on keys and on some vocal parts. Escape might be the biggest Journey album ever, but in terms of progressive music, i remain to Look at the future and Next to be the most acomplished albums in bands catalogue.Still a great album who desearves a listen from everybody intrested their albums from all periods. 4 stars
Review by Sean Trane
1 stars Breaking away a bit from the Trans-Am hood artworks, Escapes uses again the scarab/beetle this time escaping another planet's prison to rejoin their Infinity planet (the explanation was sumthin' similar at the industry's album release party and the usual MTV coverage, etc?), but one thing is certain, all progheads should find Planet Gong's adventures a lot funnier and interesting and certainly a lot less laughable than this sad excuse of Sci-fi imagery!! If I'm taking the piss on this album, it's partly because the last musician I cared about in this group Greg Rollie, had left and like Dunbar before him, replaced by a much lesser but less rebellious and more chart-inclined Jonathan Cain, who will almost directly become equal to Schon in terms of credits to songs, with Dictator Perry clearly deciding with whom he wanted to work with?. Taking the hint, Neal??? Stay a good boy and do what I say!!

Actually if memory serves, this album became their biggest selling with no less than three top 10 hit-singles and a few more in reserve. Not that the songs were any good, but the industry had managed to regain complete control (lost back in 67) of the music business and its airwaves to spread the news. It didn't matter whether the songs were that good, they had decided that this album was going to sell millions and they would hammer it in the brains of countless brainwashed numbed skulls. So Journey could've written 10 turds, they would've sold, because it was simply their time to cash in (this is normal payback when you sell-out) and this corporate rock band was not taking any lessons from anyone at this task. As a matter of fact, the Stones' Mick Jagger did indeed come for a lesson or two in "raking in the dough", by hanging around the band on tour, to see how it was done. Of course Escape was not made of 10 turds, but only 5; and the rest were songs that came to epitomize some of the saddest years in rock's history, the atrocious hits like Don't Stop Believin' and the soppy Who Crying Now. As you'd expect, the music is much in the line of the previous album, just typical slick radio-friendly AOR ballads and mid-tempo rockers that's pretty close to REO Speedwagon (actually it's the reverse REO resembles Journey) and the Foreigner of these times.

Even though Journey's take on music-making came through the classic method of impeccable playing and spotless production (for those year's standards, of course), unlike many of these younger generation group taking instruments that did the job for them. No matter how little respect I have for the Perry-era of Journey and its sell-out scheme, I will always allow them the point that they were real and gifted musicians caught in a certain context and goldmine to exploit.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars For many, Escape is likely what one is thinking when listening to this collection of oh-so-anthem- ready anathema to artistic, complex, stylistic rock music. Not a surprise, really, considering it was released when prog was in it's darkest days. But, how does this number 1, platinum album selling album sound?

Like squeaky clean, impossible not to sing-along to FM Styrofoam.

Journey is perhaps the most fungal of all AOR rock bands in that they immediately repulse, but creep into the dark places of one's psyche, growing with a slick, moist sheen of big hooks and big guitar to the point that they either repulse the listener to eruption, or smother the drive for ambitious music with a cloying combination of infectious melody and vocals.

For my own part, I keep a hefty application of fungicide ready at all times when listening to Escape. It helps me enjoy the karaoke-ready melodies of Don't Stop Believin' and the huge guitar solos in Stone In Love. These two songs, along with the immense ballads of Whose Crying Now (the good one) and Open Arms (the ear shattering one) is about all there is to this album. The listener will likely be skipping through the filler, if just to get that sweet, sweet Steve Perry high out their system.

As far as prog goes, Escape is just about the bottom of the barrel-- but, when it comes to enjoyable slumming into the world of daylight with the rest of the FM masses, it's just about unbeatable.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Isa
2 stars |D| Pure superficiality at it's best.

I like AOR, and in a superficial way I like this album, but this gets just too pop for any acceptable standards. It remains by far among their most well known albums, and solely because of the sell-out factor that makes even Infinity look like a truly artistic piece of work. Don't get me wrong, it's well written pop nonetheless, but made for the sole purpose of financial gain in the musically barren eighties world dominated by greedy businessmen who knew nothing about music itself. Not that today is much different (though illegal downloading certainly has taken their power over the masses away, thankfully), but this combined no doubt with the decade lasting prog backlash made truly artistic music the most taboo thing you could probably think of. And I can't really, in all honesty, put this album above the standards above a lot of modern pop, though I obviously prefer this for personal reasons, mainly the rock instrumentation (is that a fretless bass I hear? I like that sound...) and half-way decent use of keyboard.

Don't Stop Believin' has in itself become an iconic song in pop culture, even modern, or at least with everyone I personally know. It has become so overplayed I almost can't stand to hear it, and not because it is too good to be overplayed as with Stairway to Heaven, but because it is just such stupid boring pop that hearing in public being loved by people who's musical opinions I hold in near contempt makes me almost unable to hear it know. Most of the other songs on the album, however, I do still find fun to come back to just because I liked them so much when I was 12 or so, especially the more driving hard rock ones (tracks 2,4, & 6). I especially enjoy the album title track. Overall the first half of the album is generally decent pop and the second half (tracks 7-9, mainly) pretty much sucks, not terribly, but even for pop standards it's below par. Other than of course the last track, the nice pop ballad hit Open Arms.

Get this if you're a fan of Journey overall, mainly their pop stuff. I grew up on this music, so there's no doubt some sentimental value for many of the songs on this album. But no true standard progger is likely to find anything they'd enjoy in anything beyond a light listening superficial level. If you've never heard Journey and think you might like them even as an AOR band, I say start with Infinity, which did in fact have some great musicality to it. If you already have this band's greatest hits compilation, there's no point in buying this album at all, for it's the hits and a couple other fun tracks that make this album worth a damn, which it probably isn't and shouldn't be to us proggers.

Review by ZowieZiggy
1 stars The great duo has been brought into pieces.

The charismatic Gregg left the band, but I guess that the "musical" direction was not his cup of tea. Neither mine to tell you the truth. It is of course a shock and a great loss IMHHO.

Not only in terms of keyboards playing, but the man was a huge song writer (just look at how many great numbers he wrote for my beloved "Santana") and a very decent singer as well. Much better than this Perry puppet as far as I'm concerned.

This album is not a good one.

If you would ever try to find any relation with prog, you might well lose your time. This is again pure AOR oriented music with no feeling. It's hard to find one good song. But the band got us used to this feel for quite a while and there is little surprise with this "Escape". Actually, the best thing for us to do is to press the escape key while listening to such a crap*y album.

Even great guitar moments are scarce! So. What's left? Basically nothing, I'm afraid!

Just listen to "Keep on Runnin" to make up your mind. Or if you really want to suffer, the syrupy ballad "Still They Ride" could be the killer song for you. The one that you would never listen to any longer.

This is definitely not a nice journey to travel into. My advice is to stick to their first three albums in terms of "Journey". But of course, If you are interested in both Gregg and Neal I can only recommend "Caravanserai" or "Santana III". Two fantastic albums which I have rated with five stars.

This one is just poor, poor, poor.

The only passable track being the hard-rocking "Dead Or Alive". One song out of ten!!!

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Escaping from their own past

'Escape' is a very descriptive title for this album because it was with this album that Journey truly escaped from their past. Whatever progressive tendencies and influences that still was present on Departure is wholly absent here. In that sense, it was with Escape that the band completed the journey that they initiated with Infinity; a journey that took the band from a Jazz-Rock/Fusion group (on the family tree of Santana) to a full on AOR group with big radio hits. Personally, I particularly like the things they did in between these two "extremes", and I think that they hit the perfect balance on Infinity, my favourite Journey album. Evolution was a very weak follow up to Infinity, however, but with Departure Journey regained, at least some, of their former strengths. Say what you want about the Departure album, but you have to admit that that album displayed a somewhat wider range of influences and also a stronger willingness to experiment than does Escape. While on Departure we could hear slight influences from Blues, Folk and even Prog, as well as some quirky details and elaborated vocal harmonies, Escape is a pure AOR, Hard Rock album without any "departures" at all. "Purifying" their sound in this way was a sure path to commercial success, but it made the music quite uninteresting from the perspective of the Prog fan.

I'm not going to comment on each individual track because there is really only one track that deserves special comment; Mother, Father is an excellent song! Great melody, great vocals, great guitar work, even the lyrics are very good. There is perhaps nothing really progressive about the song, but it is the album's longest track and a little more room is left for instrumental passages in this one. I believe that Dream Theater played their own version of this song and I understand why they chose to do so. However, one great song cannot save this album from being an almost total bore.

Escape completed Journey's evolution from Jazz-Rock, via Prog Related, to pure AOR, Hard Rock. One great song is not quite enough for this album to "escape" the lowest rating.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars How can I talk about Journey without mentioning the pinnacle album of their career?

I can imagine that any fan of progressive rock will dismiss this album for many different reasons and I would completely agree with that opinion since Escape (or E5C4P3) is entirely void of anything remotely progressive on it. After all, the album dates back to the early '80s when the AOR-genre had just reached it's peak and this is one of the highlights that it had to offer.

I bought this album because I was going to see Journey at Sweden Rock Festival 2006 and was embarrassed for not having heard any of Journey's albums. Since I'm not a big fan of compilation albums I thought that I couldn't go wrong buying one of the most sold albums of all time and that's how I ended up with a copy of Escape. Aside from the two biggest hits the rest of the album has that extremely dated '80s sound that I personally never liked. So overall it's a good collection of very dated songs that may work pretty well at an '80s-themed party.

The live show experience was surprisingly pleasant thanks to the very enthusiastic audience crowd who were happy about pretty much anything the band offered them and I happened to recognize some of the material as well. It was only later that I found out that Steve Augeri used pre-recorded vocals during that show due to problems with his voice at the time, but it doesn't feel like that much of a big deal especially since I never had any particularly big expectations on their performance.

Although it's selling records I would hesitate playing Escape anywhere near a fan of complex music arrangements unless they were preparing for a night out on the dance-floor. Even then I doubt that a Journey album would be first on the menu.

***** star songs: Don't Stop Believing (4:10) Open Arms (3:18)

**** star songs: Stone In Love (4:25) Mother, Father (5:28)

*** star songs: Keep On Runnin' (3:39) Still They Ride (3:49) Escape (5:16) Lay It Down (4:13) Dead Or Alive (3:20)

** star songs: Who's Crying Now (5:01)

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Still they deride

Two years after the release of "Departure", Journey returned with what would become their most successful album of their entire career. In the interim period, co-founder Greg Rolie had moved on, and the band had released a (now hard to find) soundtrack album for the film "Dream, After Dream". Rolie was replaced by ex-The Babys keyboard player Jonathan Cain, Rolie assisting with his selection.

Cain immediately gets involved in the song writing, co-writing all the tracks here with Steve Perry, and usually Neal Schon. In terms of the contents, there are two ways we can go with this album. We can toe the party line and deride it as representing all that is wrong with music (ever!), or we can recognise it for what it actually is. "Escape" does not presume to be anything other than a collection of finely crafted AOR pop rock songs. With instantly recognisable song titles such as "Don't stop believin'", "Who's crying now", "Open arms" and "Still they ride", we know straight away that this is not a prog album by any means. It does however contain many of the things on which prog is founded. There are strong melodies, competent performances, variations in style and sound, excellent arrangements and well composed songs.

Despite being hijacked for all manner of inappropriate uses in recent years, "Don't stop believin'" remains a well crafted work featuring a fine vocal by Perry and some admirable if all to brief lead guitar from Schon. "Who's crying now" is probably my favourite Journey track of all, the vocal first half and the guitar solo latter section sitting together perfectly. Although the album is heavy on the ballads, with songs such as the wonderfully emotional "Still they ride" you will get no complaints from me. "Mother, Father" is the closest we get to a complex arrangement here, and as such this well constructed mini-epic (yes you heard me right) affords the album credibility, even in these parts.

Of the upbeat songs "Keep on running" is one of the best of the bunch, the simple rock'n'roll basis of the number being developed nicely. The album is not without it filler though, "Stone in love" and "Lay It Down" being radio rock by the numbers.

As I have acknowledged, this is no cornerstone of prog. What it is though is a best in class of AOR.

Review by Starhammer
1 stars A Journey to Escape from the norm...

...or not.

The Good: Just two songs that really stand out here. The slightly underrated Mother, Father and the grossly over-commercialised Don't Stop Believing.

The Bad: 100% generic.

The Verdict: Despite its label as prog related Escape is essentially just a pop-rock album with some well written, catchy tunes. I'm not familiar with the rest of Journey's back catalogue, but I'm almost certain this album wasn't responsible for their inclusion in the archives. But taken for what it is Escape stands above its counterparts and with a lineup including legendary vocalist Steve Perry and the prolific Steve Smith on the drums it has gotten its fair share of listens over the years.

Review by stefro
4 stars Hardly progressive rock but a great album nonetheless, AOR superstars Journey would hit their commercial zenith with this career-defining 1981 album thanks mainly to the still hugely-popular single 'Don't Stop Believin', a soft-rock anthem that has transcended both the ages and changing musical trends to become one of the most played songs on American rock radio. As an actual album, 'Escape' is actually a lot more than just the home of it's heavyweight hit, and this highly-polished set should more than satisfy lovers of straightforward rock, featuring as it does a selection of crisp, classy and slickly-produced tunes that make the best of Steve Perry's husky vocals. Yes, it's all a far cry from the group's mid-seventies inception when, under the auspices of former manager Herbie Herbert Journey started out as fusion- influenced progressive rock outfit made up of ex-members of Santana, Frank Zappa's Mothers Of Invention and The Tubes, though 'Escape' does occasionally let it's talented creators out of the commercial box, most notably on the rollicking power-pop of 'Stone In Love', a track which starts out as a simple, upbeat pop piece before diving headlong into a powerful instrumental denouement. These flashes of inspiration don't pop up too often - for the most this is simple keyboard-and-guitar dominated power pop - yet 'Escape' is rarely dull, even if the progressive instincts that adorned Journey's underrated trio of early non-Steve Perry albums('Journey', 'Look Into The Future' & 'Next') has been carefully airbrushed out. That said, 'Escape' is arguably the pinnacle of the soft-rock genre that so dominated North America during the 1980's, and one of the few such albums that has genuinely aged well. Emotive ballads such as the extremely well-written 'Who's Cryin' Now' and 'Open Arms' are cleverly balanced against pacier, punchier numbers, and the whole package can almost be seen - in the same way as Fleetwood Mac's 'Rumours' - as a kind of soft-rock blueprint, such was it's impact. Rare is the AOR album that appeals to such a wide audience, and despite it's obvious limitations 'Escape' is certainly that. It may not be prog, but it still rocks.


Review by Chicapah
2 stars A few months ago I wrote a review of Journey's foul "Infinity" album from 1978 and I have no doubt that I insulted every one of their fans with my scathing assessment of it. It was vocalist Steve Perry's first LP with the band and I found it to be such a despicably blatant attempt at being commercial that I gave it .01 stars. It was as if Journey was massively codependent and desperately wanted everyone to like them. "Escape" came out in the summer of 1981 and by then Mr. Perry had fully acclimated himself into the group's Top 40 motif so the record is much more cohesive than those that had preceded it. Plus, they were one of the most popular acts in the biz so they knew exactly what their audience expected from them. The addition of Jonathan Cain on keyboards (replacing the burned-out Greg Rolie) gave them a bit of a creative boost, as well. All that being said, however, they were still about as progressive as George Strait. But I will concede that there are a couple of tracks on "Escape" that I can not only tolerate but actually enjoy so this critique won't be quite as disemboweling.

Wisely they open with what may go down in history as the most recognizable and memorable of their songs ever, "Don't Stop Believin'." While this is 100% pop rock from beginning to end it's still hard to say anything untoward about a tune as well-crafted and true to its intended purpose as this one is. I remember when I first heard it blaring from my car radio I was thinking how great it was to hear a number that featured a dominant bass guitar line up front in the mix for a change. The catchy chorus notwithstanding, I believe Russ Valory's contribution is the real key to the song's success and longevity. Like it or hate it, the tune is a gem of production and performance. "Stone in Love" is next and it's a reversion back to the brand of unsavory, faux "rawk" that I've come to identify this band with over the years. It has all the tired ingredients: vapid lyrics, calculated-to- dazzle-the-easily-dazzled dynamics and Neal Schon's wholly predictable guitarisms that appeal only to the lowest common denominator. "Who's Crying Now" follows and, despite it being a half-decent, inoffensive AOR tune overall, I find it impossible to be objective about it because it brings to mind my first wife. She went out and bought the LP with cash pilfered from our paltry music fund because she wanted to learn Neal's guitar solo on her rusty flute left over from high school. Since our marriage eventually ended badly even the mention of this particular ditty conjures up nauseating memories I'd rather not entertain. "Keep on Runnin'" is typical of the soulless drivel the dawning of the empty 80s decade brought to the rock & roll table, helping to foster a lot of the inane hair band crap that was so soon to flourish and drive decent prog fare off the music industry's map. "Still They Ride" is a slick, bluesy ballad that might've been acceptable to my ears had someone with grit like Rod Stewart sung it but everything slow-paced that Steve Perry warbles almost always comes off as a syrupy cocktail lounge number that only induces sleep.

The title track, "Escape," is an example of formula rock at its most pedestrian. At least the ensemble tries something a tad more adventurous during the middle instrumental segment but when it ends up being sandwiched between two thick slices of plain white bread as it does here it is relegated to the realm of the inconsequential. "Lay it Down" is next wherein their tried, true and trivial composing methodology is painfully exposed once again. Schon starts with his heavily stacked guitars playing a simple riff and then Steve Smith's boring drums jump in just before they embellish the track with Perry's high-pitched chirping and a big hook. I'm sure their devotees were happy as fish to hear it. "Dead or Alive" follows, a driving rocker coupled with what sounds like New Wave-ish vocal lines emanating from Steve. Compared to some of the other filler on the album it's not bad but that's not to endorse it as anything gratifying by a long shot. "Mother, Father" is one of the band's gallant attempts at manufacturing an epic anthem. Unfortunately there's just not enough substance lyrically or musically to hold this overblown piece together and it fails miserably to enthrall. They close out with "Open Arms." This staple of classic rock and adult contemporary radio stations is adorned with a beautiful melody that Perry delivers with class while the rest of the group manages to not clutter up the atmosphere unnecessarily. I've always admired a polished, unpretentious love ballad when I encounter one and this one deserves respect.

"Escape" was the first Journey album to rise to the very top of the charts and it further solidified their status as an arena-packing, multi-platinum act that made the shareholders of Columbia Records a lotta moolah (and still does). Yet by 1981 whatever progressive roots they once proudly sported had shriveled up and deteriorated completely so their presence on this site may surprise the prog neophyte who comes across them while scanning through the roster. Their prog-related tag is a stretch. If sales impress you and fill you with "Glee," then the fact that this album has sold over 12 million copies worldwide to date will be staggering to comprehend. But here in Progland the number of units shipped means next to nothing so I have to be honest and give it the rating I think it has earned. 1.8 stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars Who could predict that Gregg Rolie´s substitute would take Journey to even a bigger success than the one they already had since Steve Perry joined the band? Ex Babys keyboards player may not have the same background as Roliés but he showed that he was a force to be reckoned of since the get go, specially at the songwriting department. He simply co-wrote the whole album with Perry and Neal Schon Proving that he was more than just a musician capable of stepping into the shoes of Journey´s founder member. With him the band reached the top spot on the charts and released a classic AOR/melodic rock album.

Ok, there´s very little of progressive music here (the mini epic Mother/Father, with its odd time signatures, different chord progressions and elaborated arrangement is the closest they got from that categorization) and that was never their intention. What they delivered was an album full of inspired, simple rock songs and soulful ballads, all of them benefiting from the technique and talent of the great musicians they all have proved to be several times. I specially point out the tremendous power and creativity of Schon, a very original and underrated guitarist.

With a very good production, excellent tunes with no fillers and an energetic performance of all involved (but mostly from singer extraordinaire Perry) this is clearly one of the best AOR albums ever made and deservedly became their bestselling collection of all original material of their career (more than 9 million albums in the US alone). And like their recent output, this one still sounds brilliant and exciting even after all these years: songs like the iconic Don´t Stop Belivin´, Who´s Crying Now, Still They Ride, Escape and the aforementioned Mother, Father simply show why Journey became king of the genre. Really, no one could dispute their crown at the time.

Rating: if PA was a Melodic rock site, this would surely be a 5 star case, but since it is not and there is so little prog rock cliches involved, a four star is more fitting rating. I still like to listen to this album once in a while between my usual forays into symphonic and other prog genres we love so much.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars Perhaps one of the most polarizing classic rock groups, Bay Area stalwarts Journey were always gradually creeping toward their commercial peak, even during the Gregg Rolie years. Even Next, the last record with Rolie behind the mic, was integrating hints of straightforward AOR into the already-established jazz fusion rock sound. Around that time, it was no surprise that the band would look for a frontman like Steve Perry to kick things up a notch, considering the first three efforts didn't exactly impress the general public.

As with most bands in the whole AOR niche, however, Journey's music got so simplistic compared to the 1975-1977 days that the Rolie-era fans were blown back a little. The following era is exactly what made (and makes) Journey so polarizing, just as the commercial days of Genesis fared. However, whereas Genesis's big hit record Abacab was exceptionally weak (even by 80's pop standards), Journey's smash album Escape from 1981 actually injects a nice dose of instrumental proficiency and solid songwriting into its commercial formula.

To get it out of the way, no write-up of this thing can go without mentioning the lead single "Don't Stop Believin'," which has clearly been played, covered, and parodied to death. The uplifting E Major piano line that begins the tune is practically an iconic piece of classic rock history, as is the harmonized chorus ending the song. Every time I go back to this song, there's always a strong sense of nostalgia in the recording style and flair, a quality that many Journey songs seem to possess; it might be because of the very clear yet almost murky atmosphere underneath the wailing guitar solos and soaring vocals. In short, it essentially feels vintage.

What's unfortunate is that plenty of songs are often overlooked, mainly because of the hits like "Don't Stop Believin'," "Stone in Love," and "Open Arms." While they're all solidly-written pieces of AOR music, many people won't even know or remember other great songs such as the hard-hitting title track, the emotional ballad "Mother, Father," or the slightly progressive "Keep On Runnin'". The other thing to mention in this regard is the aforementioned technical proficiency given the genre these guys are playing in. Ross Valory's fretless (!) bass work is certainly worth a mention for how he can bend his instrument's role between subtly leading the group and providing a solid backbone for Neal Schon's guitar work. Steve Smith's role on the drums shouldn't be underestimated either; Smith is a heavily accomplished jazz fusion drummer, and the way he integrates such a musical background into Escape makes for very smooth dynamic shifts and swift fills weaving in and out of the other instruments. That said, I don't think Neal Schon or Steve Perry need an introduction, being two of the most talented people in classic rock music. Between Neal Schon's fiery guitar leads and Steve Perry's soaring vocals and impressive range, the whole package is very solid all-around.

So what's bad about all this? First off, there's a pretty dull patch in the middle, songs like the droning "Still They Ride" and the rockers "Lay It Down" and "Dead or Alive" aren't exactly impressive and feel more like filler than genuine efforts by the band. Also, the lyrics are pretty cheesy by today's standards, much of the love talk managing to get a good chuckle out of me. Remember that line from "The Girl is Mine" by Michael Jackson that said "because the doggone girl is mine"? That kind of lyricism is thrown about here, many cliches being pulled out instead of full-on emotion. Some ballads like the beautiful "Open Arms" don't fall into this trap, but it is still a pretty annoying hindrance for the album as a whole. Finally, the song structures also start to get pretty old, most songs opting for very similar means of progression to each other when placed side-to-side. This especially happens in the rockers, and all the end-of-song fade-outs out only add to this point (the fade-outs especially get pretty obnoxious after a while).

If you can get past those things, though, the album is a pretty great piece of breezy AOR music. No matter how polarizing Journey are, Escape is surely worth at least one listen. If you enjoy the fun side of rock, expect listening to this album a lot on roadtrips... or any car trip for that matter.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Songwriting-wise, Escape contains eight songs that are somewhere between ok and good, and two classics. Production-wise, it is exactly what one can expect from Journey. Performance-wise, the same is true for Neal Schon, Steve Smith and Ross Valory, while Jonathan Cain gives his debut on this albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1364250) | Posted by Losimba | Saturday, February 7, 2015 | Review Permanlink

2 stars To the best of my knowledge, Journey is listed on this site because of some of their earlier work, which I have not really listened to. The only album I own by Journey is Escape, which features their well known hit, Dont Stop Believing. Is this album prog? Not at all. While it is mainstream rock ... (read more)

Report this review (#209916) | Posted by rpe9p | Friday, April 3, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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