(Debuted May 22, 1982, Peaked #19, 14 Weeks on the Chart)
Escape was the biggest album of Journey's career. While the band had been making music for a decade, they evolved from a freeform jam band (similar to Santana, which the founding members had left) into a rock/pop combo that was the epitome of the Arena rock sound. As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s, they were perfectly situated to capitalize on the changing of musical tastes.
In a sense, Escape was a perfect storm. It would go on to be the band's best-selling studio LP, currently certified as platinum nine times over. There were four songs from the album released as singles; all made the pop Top 40 and three were Top 10 smashes. Those of you who have read enough of my reviews know I tend to dig a little deeper into the charts and will focus on the one song that missed the Top 10.
"Still They Ride" was co-written by band members Steve Perry, Jonathan Cain and Neal Schon. Performed as a ballad, the song spotlights Perry's vocals as the song begins and raises the volume on the backing instruments as he makes his way through the lines. Of course -- this being the 1980s -- there's a standard Schon guitar solo in the instrumental bridge. The words are about the kids who used to drag race through the San Joaquin valley where Perry grew up (and where director George Lucas set American Graffiti), and the fact that the practice is still going on even as the kids eventually grow up and move on to other interests. In that sense, it's a song about being on the other side of that age difference.