2011 marks the 30th anniversary of Journey‘s biggest selling album, Escape, and I was glad to have lived through that greatness through word-of-mouth and radio airplay. I was a kid who worshiped 98 Rock, the rock station in Honolulu, and I would always hear the early stuff like “Lights” and “Anyway You Want It”. When MTV made its premiere in Honolulu in late December 1981, it would pave the way for the discovery of a lot of music, and alongside Hall & Oates and The Go-Go’s was a wealth of Journey videos, or at least the live performances that were part of the norm for music promotion at the time.
There was a bit of talk when original keyboardist/vocalist and Journey co-founder Gregg Rolie left the band, since he was one of the band’s trademark sounds, bringing to the band the vibe that he and guitarist/co-founder Neal Schol brought from their time with Santana. Journey started out as a progressive rock band but by the time they released their fourth album, they were less about going “out there” and finding a way to gain radio acceptance. It worked.
The first single from Escape was “Who’s Crying Now”, and I really liked the song. According to the Wikipedia entry for the song, people loved the song because Schon’s guitar work reminded them of a Carlos Santana solo, which makes sense. Schon states that he had a much wilder guitar solo in mind and it was recorded. However, vocalist Steve Perry and new keyboardist Jonathan Cain gave it a thumbs down, and to make a long story short, Schon dumbed it down or in Perry’s words, “(the) simplest thing he could play off the top of his head”. That would help take the song to #4 on the Billboard Singles Charts. It would also lead to the group having a video game and pinball machine, and that’s when the mere Journey became mega-journey.
In Japan, “Who’s Crying Now” was sold and promoted this way: a simple photo of the group with the spaceship that had become one of their trademarks in that phase of the group. The U.S. pressing of the single did not have a picture sleeve, but this one looks cool partly due to the design and the kanji. Over the years, the band’s follow up to “Who’s Crying Now”, “Don’t Stop Believing”, would become the most popular song on Escape, especially due to its placement in the series finale of The Sopranos, the cold ending of which was based on the 1981 MTV live concert. But for me, “Who’s Crying Now” was and remains the much better song.