Escape (Bonus Track Version)
Like any good time capsule, 1981’s Escape doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the moment it came from, but what it does tell you couldn’t be said about any other. At a time when punk was still rippling through rock culture, Escape offered a blockbuster optimism that played into the needs of an America shaking off the darkness of the 1970s while also remembering the sweetness of Motown (“Open Arms”) and early rock ’n’ roll (“Stone in Love”). They know the complexity of prog-rock, from Pink Floyd to Jethro Tull (“La Raza del Sol”), but here they keep it simple. Welcome to the 1980s: Journey wants you to win big and feel bigger.
“Don’t Stop Believin’” wasn’t even the album’s most successful single—“Who’s Crying Now” did better, and so did “Open Arms.” But if you’ve been to a bar, drugstore, or sporting event in the past 40 years, you know how it sounds and the feeling it inspires. Like the Steven Spielberg movies it came out with hand in hand, Escape gives the old hero’s narrative a spit-shine and a good name. Singer Steve Perry famously held out on giving it to The Sopranos for the show’s finale because he didn’t want to see his voice paired with violence. Listening to Escape, you get it: As big as their budget lets them be, they’re still innocent.