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Journey - Evolution CD (album) cover

EVOLUTION

Journey

 

Prog Related

2.19 | 97 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FragileKings
Prog Reviewer
2 stars For a brief time in the mid-eighties, Journey were a favourite band of mine. I had only four albums - Evolution, Departure, Escape, and Frontiers - but those four cassettes got played an awful lot for a few months. I never knew about their prog rock fusion beginnings nor their story of how Steve Perry came in, took control, and wrote the band into success. When I started buying CDs, the only Journey I got was Escape, and that's how it stayed for almost two decades. Finally last year, I bought the debut album but was not completely won over.

Then it happened that I heard Dream Theater's Big Medley which included a segment of Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' and I recalled that old classic song. I thought back fancifully to Evolution and considered that it may have actually been my favourite Journey album. So I ordered a remastered copy of the album on CD.

At first, it was almost disappointing. What was wrong with the sound quality? I remembered that songs sounding stronger, the guitar playing more exciting, and Perry's vocals - fantastic in their white soul feel - not going shrill at times. When I read the reviews on PA, I was both shocked but not really surprised to read so many 1 star reviews. Basically, fans of the pre-Perry albums were not ever going to accept the band going... commercial. Although some still gave their approval begrudgingly to Infinity, Evolution was considered a giant leap backward.

Truth be told, Evolution does spend most of its energy on more straightforward rock. Though this is obviously a band with musical talent, there is little to no effort spent on creating the more progressive style of jam band that Neil Schon and Greg Rollie had set out to create after leaving Santana. In an interview with both members I watched very recently, both of them were against bringing a crooner into the band and wanted a screamer. But their manager insisted and Perry became the new vocalist. An ambitious writer, Steve Perry transformed Journey into a sing-along rock band without the prog.

As for my own opinion of Evolution, a third listen to my CD has left me regarding it more favourably. It's because the album is an old favourite that I can't be too critical of it, though I admit it is not an album for a prog list. Actually, I do like Steve Perry's voice very much; Neil Schon, though not a technical wizard, plays with great expression and emotive power; and the songs show a band with an ear for variety. The sound quality still lacks something, I feel; however, with the volume up it's easy to get into those old tunes once more. Hearing this I am now inspired to finally buy Infinity and I think I should get Departure and Frontiers again, too.

I can understand and agree with those who prefer Journey's first three albums. For a more progressive band, that's the place to look. But I think that Evolution is still only part of the journey (so to speak) before the band became the huge commercial success they were in the eighties. This album still retains some of that seventies' magic. I give it a personal rating of three and a half stars as a rock album, but two and a half stars as a prog album, rounding down for this site.

FragileKings | 2/5 |

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