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Journey delivers solid performance in live recording

Sean Sweany | Monday, November 20, 2006

Sometimes music just sounds better live and in concert. For the band Journey, this is definitely the case, as evidenced in its CD release of “Captured.” The 1970s and 80s rock band is at its best in this album, which features songs recorded live during its worldwide 1980 “Departure” tour.

The Journey band, which people so affectionately remember and love, reached such levels of success thanks to the addition of lead vocalist Steve Perry in 1977. Perry’s unique and often imitated voice, with its broad range and timber capable of reaching impossibly high notes, became the band’s signature in such songs as “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Any Way You Want It.”

Thanks to his abounding energy and distinctive hair, Perry also had a captivating stage presence in Journey’s concerts, which made the band a popular commodity all around the world. The fame that followed the concerts led Journey to release “Captured” in 1981, its first live album.

The CD opens with the song “Where Were You,” a high-energy tune that sets the tone for the rest of the disc. Popular Journey songs like “Line of Fire” and “Lights/Stay Awhile” are present here and much better than the studio versions.

A song entitled “Dixie Highway” – never recorded in studio – gives an interesting, rarely heard perspective on Journey’s body of work. It is from this point that the album takes a bluesy feel, which unfortunately does not work as well on other songs. Aside from the well-liked song “Walks Like a Lady,” the middle of the disc drags on account of the blues sound.

However, the end of the CD rebounds with the immensely popular Journey songs “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’,” “Wheel in the Sky” and “Any Way You Want It” to close out. Performed live, these classics return a true Journey feel to the album and end it on a good note.

The songs on “Captured” are not taken from one single concert, but rather selected from various shows on the tour. This is not a problem, however, as it sounds just like a full concert, with no major changes in sound or vocals.

The sound quality, in fact, is excellent and comparable to live albums recorded today. The mix of band and crowd is near-perfect, and Perry’s voice comes through crystal clear.

Perry interacts well with audiences, and the crowd enthusiasm can be clearly heard in the recording. At times, Perry even lets the audience do the singing for him, a common move that made him so beloved among fans.

It is the crowd that makes this CD worthwhile and better than many of Journey’s studio-released CDs. Perry and the band feed off the energy of the masses, and the spirit with which they perform makes the show enjoyable and entertaining.

The reissued album also comes with a lengthy insert full of pictures and memorabilia from the “Departure” tour. Perry features prominently in nearly every picture, and any image of his long hair and wacky outfits is always good entertainment. Also interesting are images of Japanese album covers from the band’s tour in the Far East.

While not without its flaws, “Captured” stands as one of Journey’s better CD releases. The atmosphere of a live concert adds a level of uniqueness and excitement that cannot be had with studio-recorded songs, creating an album that any fan of Journey or classic rock can enjoy.