In today's Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub writes about a band that was "hated on by critics, only to sell millions of copies," a band "who made the best music ever to come out of the Bay Area," and band "that was falsely persecuted -- the musical version of a Death Row inmate who didn't commit the crime." Yes, he's talking about Journey, in particular their album Escape (Hartlaub is celebrating the album's 25th anniversary). As one of the "relative handful of haters" who thinks Journey is one of the shittiest bands of all time, I feel obliged to comment on Hartlaub's misguided attempt to talk nice about that crappy album. Besides, I'm kinda tired of getting hate messages from Carpenters fans who don't accept the truth of my statement that the Carpenters sucked big time ... let's bring the Journey fans out, see what they have to say.
First, Hartlaub is wrong when he says critics don't get Escape. While it is true that critics in general disliked Journey, Escape was the one Journey album that got some critical respect. The All Music Guide gives it 4 1/2 stars out of 5, and it seems to be very popular with British critics, making various all-time lists (info from Acclaimed Music). So you see, Peter, critics can be wrong sometimes, too.
While Journey was making Peter Hartlaub's favorite album, other bands were making music too. Black Flag with Damaged, perhaps the best of all the LA punk albums of the early 80s, and X, the best of the LA punk bands, with Wild Gift. Northern California had their punk rockers, too .... 1981 saw the release of Flipper's debut album. U2 gave us October, and there were fine albums by artists such as the Psychedelic Furs and the Neville Brothers. R.E.M. released their first single, "Radio Free Europe." There was "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel," only one of the greatest records ever made. "Oh Superman," "Start Me Up," "I Love Rock and Roll," "Bette Davis Eyes," "Controversy" ... and you're gonna talk to me about fucking Journey?
Hartlaub thinks critics are stoopid, but look what he says about the title cut to this "classic album" ... a cut, I would add, that he calls "the best song on the album -- maybe on any album." "Listening to the song 'Escape' is the equivalent of getting a personal two-hour life-coaching session by Tony Robbins and then smoking PCP."
Leaving aside the fact that anyone who had to sit through two hours with Tony Robbins would need something a lot stronger than PCP to recover, I can only assume that Peter Hartlaub is pulling my leg and I, gullible as always, have fallen for it. At one point in his article, Hartlaub dares us to listen to "Don't Stop Believing" 35 times in a row ... after reading his piece, I can only prescribe for Hartlaub that he lock himself in a room with a bunch of that horse tranquilizer and listen to the first Stooges album 35 times in a row. Maybe then he'll understand just how crappy Journey was.