For their second album under the aegis of Roy Thomas Baker (although exactly how much this man had to do with the production of this LP is open to guesswork: see the HOLD THE LINE feature for further details) Journey have honed and refined their newly-found top 40 chart capabilities and constructed an album that in my estimation is simply stunning.

Indeed, 'purity' and 'simplicity' are this disc's most important assets: smooth as glasspapered timber, as poised and as graceful as a world-class ice-skater, the record flows like no other since 'Infinity' (which just happens to be Journey's previous album release). No potholes in the road, just a gentle and scenic ride through the realm of drive-time American Adult-Oriented Rock, designed to rake in the dollars for sure, deep and meaningless most of the time certainly, but easy on the ears and brain (that is if you discount the half dozen or so hooklines that start swirling around the cells once you've heard the LP a couple of times).

And if you think that in saying that 'Evolution' is "Sweet And Simple" that means an overtly bland wimp-out, you're wrong. Although the idea of a kind of Fleetwood Mac / Foreigner hybrid may not appeal to you, although on a low volume setting the album may well sound like it plumbs new depths of castrato-rock, once you've cranked it up to a respectable wattage and thrilled to guitarist Neal Schon's scintillating solos, the multi-layered vocal work and (especially) the hard, heavy riffing high dramatics of the closing cut, "Lady Luck" you'll surely make the realisation that, really, this band have more balls than a ten pin bowling alley.

But what the hell, I'm a sucker for all sly American singalong stuff anyway; "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" despite the Norton Ferris overtones, develops from an essential good-time lurch into a climactic, high harmonised delight and when at the end the band go acapella and into the next track "City OF The Angels" with nary a pause to catch their collective breaths  well, I haven't had such an ecstatic (media) experience since "The Big Match" showed highlights from that classic League Cup Final when Queens Park rangers beat West Bromwich Albion 3-2 (howzat for a touch of Gary Bushellese, kids?)

All this, plus the fast and furious "Lovin' You Is Easy" (terrific lyrics: "C'mon girl gimme that good lovin' (ooh baby / C'mon girl keep that motor hummin' (ooh baby)", the delicate and atmospheric "Daydream" and the very "Rumours-like "Just The Same Way", plus a minute or so of pomp rock with the opening instrumental "Majestic". Despite losing a precious hour's sleep last night, my life feels just about complete.

© "Sounds", March 24 1979.
More AOR
Pure and Simple

JOURNEY
'Evolution'
(CBS82406)


Geoff Barton
Sounds, March 24, 1979
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