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Journey: Live in Houston 1981 Escape Tour (DVD)

Talk about a blast from the past! Early-Eighties nostalgia for AOR fans doesn't get much better than this. Filmed Nov. 6, 1981, as one of MTV's first televised concerts, Live in Houston 1981 - Escape Tour is a near-perfect 77-minute microcosm of the era's mainstream music scene. Journey, with its first No. 1 album in the United States (Escape), played eight of that record's 10 songs during this gig wearing obscenely tight designer jeans, ugly shirts guitarist Neal Schon is wearing a blue T-shirt featuring the original MTV logo, the same one Doug Gray wore during the Marshall Tucker Band's 1981 MTV concert (also recently released on DVD) and the camera shots often linger on the musicians for several seconds while ignoring the crowd. Plus, the 16-page color booklet that accompanies this two-disc set (which includes a CD featuring the concert's soundtrack, plus one extra song) boasts a replica ticket stub from the Houston show priced at $11.75. There's even a cheesy, space-themed television commercial for Escape a common promotional practice by record labels at the time. The whole thing has been remixed and remastered in Stereo and 5.1 Surround Sound and presented here in its entirety for the first time.

Journey was at the height of its commercial success when this gig was filmed, and the five band members are clearly having the time of their lives on a huge in-the-round arena stage that's uncluttered by speaker cabinets and amps. Journey's strongest songs ("Stone in Love," "Wheel In the Sky") sound better and heavier in this live environment, while even the band's weaker ones ("Dead or Alive," "Line of Fire") approach relevancy. Schon's shredding is most notable, as is singer Steve Perry's silky vocals, which lose nothing in the transition from studio to stage. Five years later, the band would teeter on the brink of disaster, with several key players defecting. Yet a quarter-century later, Journey still rides on, minus Perry, supporting one of its strongest albums (Generations) since Escape.

Oddly enough, the once-reclusive Perry, who officially left Journey in 1998, produced this package (with the band's full cooperation). And in the wake of "Don't Stop Believin'" unexpectedly emerging as the anthem for the 2005 World Series Champion Chicago White Sox, interest in this set may be even higher than it would have been under normal circumstances. In early November, "Don't Stop Believin'" was No. 3 on the iTunes rock chart. It almost seems like 1981 all over again.

Track Listing:
1) Escape
2) Line of Fire
3) Lights
4) Stay Awhile
5) Open Arms
6) Mother, Father
7) Jonathan Cain Keyboard Solo
8) Who's Cryin' Now
9) Where Were You
10) Steve Smith Drum Solo
11) Dead or Alive
12) Don't Stop Believin'
13) Stone in Love
14) Keep on Runnin'
15) Neal Schon Guitar Solo
16) Wheel In the Sky
17) Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'
18) Anyway You Want It
19) The Party's Over (Hopelessly In Love) (Live CD-Only Bonus Track)
Extras include 10 minutes of Escape-era interview snippets, a slide show and a television commerical

Added: January 15th 2006
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Journey Web Site
Hits: 3871
Language: english

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Journey: Live in Houston 1981 Escape Tour (DVD)
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-01-15 08:43:42
My Score:

Journey fans can now rejoice that this wonderful little slice of 80's nostagia is available to the public. Originally an MTV original concert in the early days of the cable giant, Live in Houston 1981-Escape Tour is now a DVD set that includes a full audio CD of the show, plus a neat little booklet that serves as a sort of tour program. The show itself is a pretty charged up set that features much of the Escape album, including red-hot versions of "Mother, Father", "Escape", "Don't Stop Believing", "Who's Crying Now", and of course the kick-ass "Stone in Love". The band as a whole were in fine form here, especially guitarist Neal Schon and singer Steve Perry. Schon's muscular and fiery riffs and solos take classic tunes like "Wheel in the Sky" and "Don't Stop Believing" to new levels, and Perry, well, his voice just soars throughout the set. It was also nice to see the solo spots for keyboard player Jonathan Cain and drummer Steve Smith, but why do I feel that Schon's guitar solo was somehow edited, as just as he starts going the band moves into "Wheel in the Sky"....I caught the band on this tour back in 1981, and let me tell you, Schon was given a good 5 minutes to rip, unlike what they show here, which is basically 30 seconds of him laying down some moody chords and effects.

For bonus material, you get some interviews with the band members about the Escape album life on the road, and how some of them came to join the group. Also, there is a pretty funny little TV promo for the album (which shows just how much things have changed over the years!) and a slide show. The fact that they included a CD of the show as well so the fans can listen to the show on the stereo or in the car makes what is a standout purchase a must have. Now all we need is a DVD of the current line-up and tour, as well as some archival stuff from the Gregg Rolie era, and Journey fans would have the best of it all.

» Reader Comments:

Journey: Live in Houston 1981 Escape Tour (DVD)
Posted by Bill Berger on 2006-09-19 14:08:48
My Score:

This DVD is awesome! it's vintage Journey, the Journey we all hope to see again. I was blown away by how tight the band was and just how stunning Steve Perry's voice is. Neal Schon is the best, Ross Valory owns the bass, Jonathon Cain is an amazing addition musically and Steve Smith is tough as nails. Arguably, one of the greatest American bands ever! Journey rules! Wow!!!!!

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