Escape (1981)


 
1. Don't Stop Believin' 2. Stone in Love 3. Who's Crying Now 4. Keep on Running 5. Still They Ride 6. Escape 7. Lay it Down 8. Dead or Alive 9. Mother, Father 10.Open Arms

 

A better name for this album (and the album cover could stay the same) would be "Explode". This is exactly what this band did on this release. Many may have seen this coming. After all, they had been steadily rising in popularity ever since Steve Perry joined the band and helped steer the band into a more popular and mainstream genre of music. I'm not sure anyone could have quite foreseen just how this album would break, and then set, the barriers for AOR music.

Founding member Gregg Rolie left after the last tour, and actually recruited replacement Jonathan Cain, who was the keyboardist for the band's supporting act on the last tour, The Babys. One could argue that Cain was the missing piece in the puzzle. His name is listed as a co-writer for all ten of the songs, and he seemed to add a bit of a more melodic touch to the bands repertoire. There were some that yelled "sell out", but people have been saying that about these guys since 1978, so no one with a brain (which would leave out most rock critics) was really listening.

And you couldn't argue with the success of this band, nor the success of this particular album. This album manages to capture and display everything about this band that made them so loved by audiences everywhere. The biggest strength, arguably, was Steve Perry's voice. Not to diminish the importance of all the band members, but Perry had one of the most memorable and cherished voices in the history of rock and roll. Everyone knew how well he could cut through some of the heavier rock tunes, but he displays here that his voice was perfect for the more mellow crowd as well. The most popular songs on here are the slower ones where his voice really stands out. True, Open Arms is the only power ballad here (and what a power ballad), yet songs such as Who's Crying Now, Still They Ride and the timeless Don't Stop Believin' allow Perry to show off his talents even more.

The heavier rockers don't disappoint, either. Dead or Alive is a bit weak, but nothing else comes close to remotely faltering. One of the fascinating things about this band, at least in high schools across the country, is that it seemed that this band was safe for everyone to like. Whether you were into Ozzy and Rush, or Christopher Cross and The Commodores, all audiences seemed to gravitate towards this band's sound. What would eventually become a sad reality, was that, like most bands that take so long to reach the top, they wouldn't stay there too long as most would have liked due to many internal pressures. Fortunately, even though they only had a couple of good records left in them, the memory of this band would last forever, and result in a resurgence in popularity up to three decades later.

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