Man, when I was a kid in the early 80’s, life couldn’t be better. Especially since my neighbors, the Sullivans were the COOLEST next door neighbors on the planet. Every time I ventured up to the sons’ Eddie and Kevin’s rooms I was mesmerized by the rock and roll posters they had on their walls. In fact, the two of them used to throw me back and forth having a catch in the front yard. But I never felt picked on because they were so cool; they treated me like a little brother. And when it came down to rock music, they didn’t fuck around. These are the boys who not only gave me my first copy of KISS Alive!, but let me hang out while listening to records, and gave me my first guitar.
And one of those records I sat and listened to up in the bedroom for the first time was JOURNEY’S live album Captured. Recorded during their Departure Tour in 1980, this double LP is the latest in our Classic Albums Live series for the holidays. Understand, the band had just completed a consecutive three-album run with a bunch of hits that most rock groups couldn’t pull off if they tried with Infinity, Evolution, and the aforementioned Departure. You should also understand that this was truly singer Steve Perry’s coming out party as he was in full command of the stage for the shows they recorded for this one. And they still hadn’t taken over the whole world with Escape yet!
Man, as soon as Kevin put the needle down and the band launched into “Where Were You” I was enthralled. This was late summer of 1981 and obviously Escape was all over the airwaves, but hearing these tunes was something different for eight-year old me. There’s a much more raw and bluesy feel to a lot of these tracks. Hell, when “Just the Same Way” started I remember standing up and pointing to the record player going, “Who’s that singing?!?” as Gregg Rolie handled the verses. This was a slightly different JOURNEY I was hearing, but I loved it. “Line of Fire” is pretty goddamn heavy and guitarist Neal Schon has one helluva riff on this track.
One of the coolest parts of this record is the way the band goes from “Lights” into “Stay Awhile” and then “Too Late”. The transition is seamless and you can hear a well-oiled machine putting on the performance of a lifetime. Bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith anchor these songs, doing just enough to keep everyone in line and never overplaying, even though they are both world class musicians. And let’s face it, Schon’s solo on “Lights” rips, whether it’s live or on tape. Again, little kid Damian didn’t know all the particulars and technical stuff, but I can recall hearing this stuff and just going, “Woooow!” Can you blame me?
The inclusion of brand new song “Dixie Highway” for this special occasion is just so friggin’ cool because the band jams their asses off for nearly seven minutes. Oh, and Rolie and Schon deliver back-to-back keyboard and guitar solos that must have set hairs on fire the night of that show. Oh and look, here we go with the double whammy of “Feeling That Way” and “Anytime”!! How lucky was I to be getting such a musical education this early in life, huh? Years later I would be reminded of this one-two punch by a friend of mine in college named Meat. Perry’s vocal soars on “Do You Recall” as well.
A pair of seven-minute jobbers shows up next with the bluesy “Walks Like a Lady” and one of my personal favorites to this day, “La Do Da”, featuring a killer Valory bass solo AND an equally stunning Smith drum solo. So don’t you go thinking for one minute that all this band is capable of is catchy arena rock. Because they can fucking throw down and wail away at a moment’s notice. You better recognize!! One of my coolest childhood memories was when I heard “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’” up there in that room. It was mesmerizing, and that particular live version fucking rules. One of my favorites even now.
The live album portion closes with “Wheel In the Sky” and “Any Way You Want It”, both of which soar into the stratosphere before studio track “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly In Love)” ends the record. In 1981, when I was eight years old, JOURNEY did two things: they released one of my favorite live recordings of all time, and then followed that up with one of my favorite albums ever…Escape. It’s funny, because I had gotten away from Captured for some years. Then in 2011 it all came back with a vengeance, and this is a record I listen to at least once a week since then. So for then, for now, and for all the memories in between…this will forever be in Classic Albums Live. ~dc