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Journey - Departure CD (album) cover




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2.60 | 92 ratings

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3 stars The last album to feature founding member Gregg Rolie(keyboards, vocals) and the second to feature newly- acquired drummer Steve Smith, the aptly-titled 'Departure' takes another step towards the slick AOR sound Journey would popularize during their 1980s peak, though even here the formula is starting to wear a little thin. Although a damn site better than the insipid predecessor 'Evolution' - no mean feat - 'Departure' fails to reach the lofty heights scaled by the group's 1978 breakthrough hit 'Infinity', the album that saw Journey for the first time pointedly eschew the pop-prog-fusion style that graced their first three albums. Instead, we have anthemic, occasionally gritty guitar solo's embellishing a set-list of slickly-crafted FM rockers designed to showcase frontman Steve Perry's powerful vocals. Opening track 'Any Way You Want It' proved to be the album's big hit by peaking at no.8 on the Billboard hot 100, perfectly encapsulating the group's proficient approach, whilst the hard rock veneer coating the gutsy rocker 'I'm Cryin' gives a rare example of the five-piece actually trying to push the stylistic envelope, the tracks slow-burning groove taking the Journey sound, albeit briefly, beyond their limited sonic confines. Rolie, the member who proved so influential on debut album 'Journey' it's follow-up 'Look Into The Future' and third album 'Next', is strangely quiet throughout 'Departure', though by his own admission he was starting to tire of life on the road and the constant merry-go-round of writing, recording and touring, hence both his lack of input and his subsequent 'Departure'. Though by no means a memorable Journey album, Rolie's general lack of involvement means the creativer onus falls on lead-guitarist Neal Schon and Perry. Despite their best efforts and a handful of smouldering rock ballads, however, 'Departure' has the distinctively inconsistent sound of a group buried deep in transitional territory. There are plenty of lesser albums by this hugely-popular American outfit, yet, conversely, there are also many better. Solid stuff then, but seriously unspectacular.


stefro | 3/5 |


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