When we talk about definitive 80s rock albums, Journey’s “Escape” almost instantly comes to our mind. With smashing hit singles like “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Who’s Crying Now” “Still They Ride”, “Open Arms” and “Stone in Love” the record was destined for success. Not only it sold over 12 million copies worldwide, but its tracks became the ultimate rock radio staples of the decade. Till today, it remains the band’s most successful studio album and the project that completely changed the game for one of San Francisco’s most talented artists – Journey. “Escape” was the album that introduced the band into the AOR arena and the album responsible for their fame and millions of fans throughout the world.
According to some critics, “Escape” has to be considered as the best AOR album of the all-time! Indeed, we need to recognize the importance and influence of this album on the popular music arena of the ‘80s because the mark this record left was so huge that it still stands! Furthermore, the record peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart and had three hit singles in top 10 positions. People were (and still are) completely crazy about this record and how can they not be? The album represents freedom of youth, love, new hope, dreams and reaching for the stars. Every song mesmerizes us with beautiful instrumentals and outstanding vocal delivery by none other than THE VOICE himself – Steve Perry. “Escape” is truly one of the greatest rock masterpieces of the ‘80s.
Released: July 31, 1981
Recorded: April to June 1981, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California
Genre: Hard Rock, Rock, Soft Rock
Producer(s): Mike Stone, Kevin Elson
Singles: “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Who’s Crying Now”, “Still They Ride”, “Open Arms”, “Stone in Love”
Personnel: Steve Perry – lead vocals; Neal Schon – guitar, backing vocals; Jonathan Cain – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, piano, keyboards; Ross Valory – bass guitar, backing vocals; Steve Smith – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Certified: 9xPlatinum (RIAA)
Don’t Stop Believin’
“Stone in Love”
“Who’s Crying Now”
“Keep on Runnin'”
“Still They Ride”
“Lay It Down”
“Dead or Alive”
Bonus Tracks from the 2006 Remastered Edition:
“La Raza del Sol” (B-side of “Still They Ride”)
“Don’t Stop Believin'” (Live at The Summit, Houston, Texas, November 6, 1981; from Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour)
“Who’s Crying Now” (Live at The Summit, Houston, Texas, November 6, 1981; from Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour)
“Open Arms” (Live at The Summit, Houston, Texas, November 6, 1981; from Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour)
“Escape” impresses with more catchy and friendly rock-flavoured tunes, with more hooks, live and rhythm than their previous works. The album may fit perfectly into the description of an AOR record but it also goes way beyond that. During the ‘80s it was indeed quite popular to expand into the pop rock arena by sweetening hard rock sounds with keyboards, vocal harmonies and colorful lyrics, however not many bands achieved what Journey did with this album. Despite being heavily criticized for its sweetness and lack of technical excellence, “Escape” somehow managed to reach the hearts of the fans and conquer them.
The mood of the album is concentrated around themes such as love, romance, hopes, dreams and the belief that we have the strength to reach and ask for something better in this life. The album is dedicated to the youth in need of inspiration and encouragement. The lyrics are brilliant and possess the ability to immediately connect with you on a deeper, more personal level. The words simply transfer you to a new and better world.
The lifeblood of the record has to be Steve Perry. We can’t argue about the passion and emotion Steve Perry puts every time he sings for his fans. However, in this album, he goes beyond his limits and gives us something more brilliant than ever. His vocal delivery, particularly on this record, has made him immortal.
Escape is full of these outstanding singing moments and uplifting rhythms that can’t but make your heart warm up.The songs are simply irresistible. From the title track – “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which can go “on and on and on” and we won’t mind at all, to “Who’s Crying Now” which is the song that best showcases Steve Perry’s wide vocal range, “Escape” is a gift we can’t get enough of.
Now, let’s listen…
This is one of the songs everyone likes to play when they feel down and are in need of a “cheer-up”! It might indeed be the perfect rock song – outstanding vocals, clever lyrics and a catchy “marathon” between a piano and a guitar. The popularity of this song is completely understandable and even nowadays, numerous TV shows and movies choose to feature it. Why? Because people love it and it’s just that good!
Don’t Stop Believin’
Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train
Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’!
“Open Arms” is probably the band’s greatest commercial success, spending countless weeks on the Billboard charts. It’s one of those songs that can easily make you emotional and you might not even realize when you started crying. Steve is such a beautiful man and his voice is truly made of gold – the depth, the passion the range – no man can ever match Steve Perry’s voice and that’s that! The song captivates us with its unique spirit and moving lyrics. Just listen…
Lying beside you, Here in the dark
Feeling your heartbeat with mine
Softly you whisper, You’re so sincere
How could our love be so blind
We sailed on together, We drifted apart
And here you are, By my side
So now I come to you, With open arms
Nothing to hide, Believe what I say
So here I am With open arms
Hoping you’ll see
What your love means to me
Another awesome tune from the album that captures the essence of the band and impress with its upbeat and energizing spirit. The lyrics bring us back to our young and carefree days full of innocent love and romance…
Stone in Love
Those crazy nights, I do remember in my youth
I do recall, those were the best times, most of all
In the heat with a blue jean girl
Burnin’ love comes once in a lifetime
She found me singing by the rail road track
Took me home, we danced by moonlight
Those summer nights are callin’,
stone in love
Can’t help myself I’m fallin’
stone in love…
Finally, I would like to say that “Escape” is an absolute pop-rock sensation and is an absolute must-have in your record collection. The songs are timeless and can’t but make you fall in love with them at first listen. Not to mention Steve Perry whose remarkable voice in my opinion cannot be described with words – you just have to feel it and once you do, you would just realize that some things in life are truly magical and go beyond rationality. The record is groundbreaking and an absolute era and culture defining icon. “Escape” is immortal!