Journey: Evolution (in its entirety)

The rock group Journey came to life 50 years ago. I cannot imagine a world without Journey music, which has been a big part of the soundtrack of my life. I witnessed their music at Summer Jams in the late 70s, the Escape Tour and Raised on Radio Tour in the 80s, and I attended a show a few years ago during the early days of current singer Arnel. Boy do I miss Steve! 

When I hear early Journey, I am immediately transported to my bedroom where I am standing in front of my rock and roll mirrors (won at the county fair and printed with the likes of Journey, Led Zeppelin, or Jack Daniels) pretending to be Steve Perry. “Turn that down!”, my father would bellow from his recliner in the living room. Of course, I could not hear his protest and eventually he or my mother would enter my room and request I turn it down a “notch”. My favorite mic to sing with Steve was the cardboard center of a paper towel roll with a sponge taped over one end for amplification. I crafted a cardboard guitar in the shape of a Les Paul body complete with a yardstick neck and black marker lines for frets and strings when I was feeling like a rock-n-roll guitar king. I could shred right along with Neal Schon lick for lick…and then I awoke from my dream still holding that cardboard guitar standing in front of those county fair mirrors. I miss the fair and those mirrors! The county fair came early August and often signaled the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. The fair was every kid’s last gasp of summer fun, 4-H Beef Burgers, games, and too short carny rides! I loved winning a new mirror or two every August at the Atchison County Fair in the small town of Effingham, Kansas. Loaded with money earned from part-time jobs and whatever amount I could coax my mother into giving me, I would hit the fair grounds and immediately head to the carnie game that offered those prized mirrors. Over the years of fair attendance, I acquired many mirrors including Journey Departure and Evolution, Pink Floyd The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, Rush 2112, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones Lips, Coors, Budweiser, Miller Lite, and Jack Daniels to name a few.

Journey was formed in that city by the bay San Francisco in 1973 by guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Gregg Rolie, both Santana veterans. In 1974, Journey kept Ross Valory on bass guitar and dismissed two other  members, drummer and rhythm guitar player, and hired drummer Ansley Dunbar. This line up had moderate success. Then in 1977, Steve Perry joined the band as lead vocalist and Journey shot to the top of the charts and were playing to sold out arenas. More drummer turmoil! The band fired Ansley Dunbar in 1978 and hired jazz drummer Steve Smith to provide the beat. In 1981, Rolie left the band and they added Jonathan Cain as songwriter and keyboardist. Perry’s vocals and Cain’s words proved to be a winning combination and gave birth to hit songs such as “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Stone in Love”, “Open Arms”, and “Faithfully”. Journey catapulted to stardom! 

Although it did not garner a lot of critical praise and was panned by many, my favorite Journey album is Evolution and when listened to in its entirety, it is a rollercoaster of emotion. Released in the spring of 1979, it harbors eleven tracks of stunning musicianship with a rock-n-bluesy feel. 

Evolution opens with the instrumental “Majestic” as gentle guitar picking builds into Neil Schon’s hard chord crunches launching into screaming guitar licks and sweet vocal harmonies. 

“Too Late” announces that it is, in fact, too late to turn back because this album is going to rock you, seduce you, and then rock you some more! Which leads into the hugely popular “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” , this song, driven by Smith and Valory’s rhythmically pulsating back beat and Perry’s siren-like vocals, seduces you into impure thoughts as the night pushes forward. Ending with the best set of ‘Na Nas’ ever recorded, the faithful listener is rewarded by being transported via acapella harmonies seamlessly into the next track, “City of Angels”. 

“City of Angels” begins with acapella harmonies lulling the listener into a raucous Schon guitar riff that promises to rock you and turn your car or bedroom into a concert hall! I used to love when my favorite rock-n-roll station, KY-102, would have the balls to play these two songs in album order. It rarely happened back then and when it did it was a ‘mistake’ or late at night. “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin’” was the hit song and “City of Angels” was always the forgotten gem. Track five, “When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)”, is a good middle of the road rocker showcasing Perry’s vocals and Schon’s smooth guitar work. From here, the album pumps the breaks a little with my favorite song on Evolution: “Sweet and Simple”. This song is a seductive romp that tempts us to take it all slow and easy. Perry’s range breaks the glass ceiling and Schon’s guitar work is passionate and flawless. “Lovin’ You Is Easy” provides romantic elements that I am sure appeared on many mix tapes in the Seventies and serves as a bridge to the only song on the album not sung by Perry, “Just the Same Way”. Rolie and his piano take the helm on this one and it is my second favorite song on Evolution. I dig Rolie’s ‘made for rock-n-roll’ voice and I wish he sang more songs on the album. In my humble opinion, Rolie is an overlooked genius on those early Journey albums. The last three songs are “Do You Recall”, “Daydream”,  and “Lady Luck”. All three are good songs, but seem like after-thoughts brought in to push the track listing to eleven, even though the album would be just as good with only the first eight or nine tracks. 

And that’s Journey Evolution…in its entirety.

Journey Evolution

Side One 

  1. Majestic
  2. Too Late
  3. Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’
  4. City of Angels
  5. When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)
  6. Sweet and Simple

Side Two

  1. Lovin’ You Is Easy
  2. Just the Same Way
  3. Do You Recall
  4. Daydream
  5. Lady Luck

THANK YOU Fred for reading and and always talking about music!

© 2023 Gregory Vessar. A Thousand Miles from Kansas. All Rights Reserved.

“Sweet and Simple” by Journey
Categories: Album in Its Entirety, MusicTags: , , , ,


  1. Nice, dude

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just watched a journey concert from 1983 in Houston!! Great band and vocals

    Liked by 1 person

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