Journey's second go-round with ultimate producer Roy Thomas Baker comes dangerously close to eclipsing the penultimate Infinity. Although any fan of melodic rock can't live without either record, here the San Francisco five evolves into an ace pop unit: suave masters of the FM dial, awaiting Jonathan Cain's injection of blue collar themes to shoot them to the top of AM radio. Opening track "Majestic" gives an apt indication of Evolution's breadth and tone. For though Journey never achieves the regality of Baker's crown jewel Queen, several of these moments are breathtaking. Of course, Journey's fifth album is also the true breakthrough, thanks to chart smash "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" creating AOR blues; but its b-side "When You're Alone (It Ain't Easy)" and the jamming "Just the Same Way (Rolie's sole time sharing lead)" are also indispensable nuggets. The live read of "The Line of Fire" on Journey's concert collection Captured forever obliterated this studio version (although the piano really smokes). "Sweet and Simple" uses a capella tricks from Infinity while "Lovin' You Is Easy"(an easy motif?) unveils a gorgeous keyboard passage. For the finale, a cool, sunny afternoon "Daydream" corrals progressive crystal ship tendencies into a weed-high reverie, before the high-rolling "Lady Luck" shakes you awake. Evolution exhibits sleek rock by professionals at the top of their craft with beautiful tunes and sharp hooks accentuated by one of the finest boardsmen in the biz. In retrospect, many songs follow a similar pattern, working into a repeated choral phrase whereupon Schon's sizzling guitar chords duke it out with Perry's searing vocal chords, but it's a great trick that always works. While Infinity yearns to return to the city by the Bay, Evolution vows to leave the "City of the Angels," and Journey never looked back.
-STONE, Cheap Trash NYC