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on June 19, 2002
You would think that they could get it right with two discs to work with this time, but "The Essential Journey" is only partially deserving of its title. True, all the big hits are included (the 15 that appeared on the original "Greatest Hits" are also here), and justice is restored to previously shunned favorites like "Stone In Love", "The Party's Over (Hopelessly In Love)", "After The Fall", "Still They Ride", "Just The Same Way" and "Escape". But there are still a bunch of greats that were left off in favor of lame "what-the-hell-is-this-one-here-for" type songs. I mean, since when are "The Eyes of A Woman", "Mother, Father", and "Something To Hide" considered essential, while high-airplay singles like "Walks Like A Lady", "Why Can't This Night Go On Forever", "Suzanne" (a Top 20 Hit!) and "City of Angels" are not? Not only that, but even though this collection rightfully includes the classic "Anytime", it does not include the song "Feeling That Way" which almost always preceeds it when heard on the radio. For Journey fans, this would be like Queen putting "We Are The Champions" on a best-of without "We Will Rock You" right before it! Same goes for "Stay Awhile" (which admittedly sounds a lot like "Lights"), which was always played right after "Good Morning Girl" on the radio. "Good Morning Girl" is here, "Stay Awhile" is not, and GMG seems lost without its companion. Don't get me wrong, I do like the songs "Something To Hide" and "The Eyes of A Woman" a lot, but I think they should've been shelved in favor of better-known fare. At any rate, this is definitely the best Journey compilation out there (better than the spotty "Time3"), but I sometimes wonder what the people in charge of song selection are thinking when they put these things together.
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VINE VOICEon November 2, 2004
Growing up in the 80's, I was always aware of Journey, but I never really took notice of them until the mid-90's, when I was in college. I never realized how many hits these guys cranked out over the years until I happened upon one of their greatest hits albums in a friend's dorm room. He had to leave for the evening and I stayed behind to play video games. I put the disc on and the memories began to flood back to me. I instantly remembered all of the songs as they played over the speakers. I was caught up in the old days, and I was loving it.

This album, "The Essential Journey," includes all of the hits from the album my friend had and many other songs that radio fans such as myself may not have been aware of. The first disc is the best in my opinion, because it includes the bulk of their hit material. The second disc is good as well because, for the most part, it introduces fans like myself to a side of Journey they weren't aware of.

This is a good compilation to pick up if you love to sing along with Steve Perry while you're cruising down the highway. Obvious hits like "Lights," "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'," and later hits like "When You Love A Woman" are all here. The power ballad of all power ballads, "Open Arms," and its closest competitor, "Faithfully," in this collection as well.

Highly recommended.
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on November 5, 2002
This is not a bad album, but it is not all that great either. If I were a casual fan or someone new to the group then this would be the album to buy (over their single disc GREATEST HITS or TIME CUBED box set).
For a few bucks more you get all the songs from GREATEST HITS plus some "Essential" tracks like: CHAIN REACTION, AFTER THE FALL, STILL THEY RIDE, STONE IN LOVE, THE PARTY'S OVER, JUST THE SAME WAY & ANYTIME.
However, there are some "Essential" MIA's like: SUZANNE, WHY CAN'T THIS NIGHT GO ON FOREVEER, DIXIE HIGHWAY, WALKS LIKE A LADY, TOO LATE & FEELING THAT WAY.
As always not everyone will be happy with the song selection so accept what you're getting here. ESSENTIAL JOURNEY is a much better compilation than GREATEST HITS for not much more $$$, but it is no substitute for owning all the Steve Perry Journey discs as I do. This is still the best disc available for casual fans with a lot of their better songs.
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on October 22, 2001
You would think that they could get it right with two discs to work with this time, but "The Essential Journey" is only partially deserving of its title. True, all the big hits are included (the 15 that appeared on the original "Greatest Hits" are also here), and justice is restored to previously shunned favorites like "Stone In Love", "The Party's Over (Hopelessly In Love)", "After The Fall", "Still They Ride", "Just The Same Way" and "Escape". But there are still a bunch of greats that were left off in favor of lame "what-the-hell-is-this-one-here-for" type songs. I mean, since when are "The Eyes of A Woman", "Mother, Father", and "Something To Hide" considered essential, while high-airplay singles like "Walks Like A Lady", "Why Can't This Night Go On Forever", "Suzanne" (a Top 20 Hit!) and "City of Angels" are not? Not only that, but even though this collection rightfully includes the classic "Anytime", it does not include the song "Feeling That Way" which almost always preceeds it when heard on the radio. For Journey fans, this would be like Queen putting "We Are The Champions" on a best-of without "We Will Rock You" right before it! Same goes for "Stay Awhile" (which admittedly sounds a lot like "Lights"), which was always played right after "Good Morning Girl" on the radio. "Good Morning Girl" is here, "Stay Awhile" is not, and GMG seems lost without its companion. Don't get me wrong, I do like the songs "Something To Hide" and "The Eyes of A Woman" a lot, but I think they should've been shelved in favor of better-known fare. At any rate, this is definitely the best Journey compilation out there (better than the spotty "Time3"), but I sometimes wonder what the people in charge of song selection are thinking when they put these things together.
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on October 28, 2001
There are a couple of key songs missing from this compilation. Most notably, Why Can't This Night Go On Forever is absent. This was a big radio and video hit for Journey in '86....so why was this gem passed up? My other gripe is that not 1 of Neal Schon's heavy guitar instrumentals(featuring Greg Rolie's lead vocals) from Journey's first 3 albums are in this 2 CD lineup....not 1! It would've been refreshing to see: Of A Lifetime or I'm Gonna Leave You on here, from the pre-Steve Perry era.
I am very pleased, however, with the inclusion of: Stone In Love, Chain Reaction, After The Fall and When You Love A Woman....4 great chart hits! I would highly recommend this double CD compilation to any Journey fan; for the more "hard core" Journey enthusiast- I think the 3 CD box set, TIME3, would be your best bet....otherwise, invest some time and money in purchasing the entire Journey catalog on CD.
Journey is truly one of the greatest bands in Rock history! I still believe that Perry is the reason for Journey's success....his voice is incomparable with other great singers in this genre of music!
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on July 25, 2011
If you are a casual Journey fan, this is the set you should get. If you have all of the Journey cataloge on older CD's like I do,you still need this set. All the hits are here and a nice selection of other popular tracks are included. (The set only goes as far as the last of the Steve Perry days in 1996 and does not include later stuff recorded after Steve left/was fired/whatever story you like.)

This CD may be some of finest examples of remastering I have heard yet. The remastering was done by Bob Ludwig who is (and has been for as long as I can remember) the best Mastering engineer in the business. If you don't understand what remastering is all about, don't feel guilty, most of us don't. Here's a little of what I have learned. When most of Journey's recordings were made it was all done on analog reel to reel tape and mixed for use on vinyl records. Vinyl records had some severe technical limitations. A pressed vinyl record had a defined set of limits: There was a set limit of time available (per side), the amount of volume on the record had to be closely watched because louder records required deeper/wider grooves giving you less available time and to control it all a huge dose of compression was often needed. Mastering engineers were often forced to roll off some low end information (bass and drums)so the grooves of the vinyl record could be cut smaller thus allowing more time on the disc. For this reason producers usually placed songs with the most bottom end within the first tracks on a disc because the outter grooves were wider and could be cut "hotter" and with less compromise to the sound. Suffice to say these were only a few of the restrictions that were part of pressing vinyl records. When digital CD's came along these restrictions were pretty much eliminated, but for twenty years rather than remaster older albums, CD versions were usually produced from the same tapes that were used to manufacture vinyl records (with all the limitations of vinyl still in place). These CD's were not even made from original master tapes but were made from copies of the original master tape. Just listen to a CD of The Beatles "Rubber Soul" on a cd from the 80's and then from the remastered CD version released within the past few years and you have an excellent example of the difference between a digital transfer from the original master tape and a CD made from a copy of the original master tape.

The remastering of these Journey tracks is state-of-the-art mastering done by a legendary mastering engineer. The original mixes sound incredible. Just compare Bob Clearmountains's production on "I'll Be Alright Without You" on this CD with any other former release on CD. On these new tracks the kick drum pops right out of the speakers like you are sitting in the studio and the clarity of Steve Perry's voice is crystal clear. It's like someone took a blanket off of your speakers.

Great songs by an incredible group of musicians finally remastered to perfection.
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on June 9, 2003
For those looking for the best greatest hits compilation from Journey during the Steve Perry years, this is it. Disc One contains the songs that were released on Greatest Hits but
adds When You Love A Woman and After The Fall but pushes Be Good To Yourself to the second disc. All of the biggest radio mainstay hits are here including Wheel In The Sky, Faithfully, Any Way You Want It, Who's Crying Now, Open Arms, and Lovin'
Touchin' Squeezin'.
Naming any compilation set "The Essential" means that the set must go beyond the greatest hits and give a deeper listen to the music of the band. Disc Two is supposed to provide that depth. This disc actually does a pretty good job of doing so, but it is not perfect. Songs like Patiently (the first song that Neil Schon and Steve Perry wrote together), Still They Ride, Just The Same Way, Message Of Love, and The Party's Over(Hopelessly In Love) are all there. From there, selections are really just subjective choices by whomever put together this compilation.
Some of these choices are suspect when compared to what had been left off. For example, Anytime was rightfully included, but Feeling That Way, which is still played prior to Anytime on rock radio, was omitted. Good Morning Girl was included, but Stay
Awhile, which was released as a single with Good Morning Girl, was left off as well. Journey did play these apart in concert, so it isn't as big a deal as Feeling That Way being dropped.
I like the selections of Mother, Father and The Eyes Of A Woman, but the latter meant the probable demise of top twenty hit Suzanne from this collection, and that was a likely mistake. Chain Reaction, Escape, Line Of Fire, and Baby I'm A Leavin' You are all good songs, but in my opinion, they are not as essential as Majestic, Too Late, Where Were You, and Why Can't This Night Go On Forever.
What is upsetting is that the discs come in at about 67 and 63 minutes respectively, so there was room to add some of these additional songs without having to delete the ones already there. I guess this could be called The Almost Essential Journey, as it is obviously incomplete, but is still the best one shot Journey compilation available. For those music buyers looking to hear what the fuss was all about, this is a much better pick up than the previously released one disc Greatest Hits. I will rate it a full 5 stars, because the music that is here is great, but it could have been even better had the song selection been slightly expanded.
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As ballad pop goes, Journey is there. These are the songs which were played at proms throughout the 1980s. Filled with romance, emotional passion and Steve Perry's unrelenting voice, Journey's "The Essential Journey" are a mix of hard, mild and melodic pop rock.

Occasionally, the band would turn out mediocre music, like "Girl Can't Help It," but most is still worth listening to. "Be Good to Yourself" sounds like a bad movie soundtrack song, and is not worthy of this otherwise amazing CD.

There are two disks, with more music than the average listener is familiar with, and only hardcore fans with know. A few hits are missing, leaving a real best-of CD still out there.

Journey was a pop band: Simple lyrics without a heavy message. Distinguishing them was their willingness to step out of the known musical formulas. Club music was coming into its own in the 1980s, with DJs sampling and mixing. Their music doesn't sample well, and they risked being a radio-only band. As their hit list grew from "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" into a rich repertoire, their concerts became packed into stadiums. Those are the songs here.

It is 1980s music in every sense of the term, but better than just as music from the period, just like James Taylor is better than just being a musician from the 1970s. I fully recommend, "The Essential Journey" by Journey.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com
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on November 4, 2013
I'm a casual Journey fan, and the tracklisting here is pretty good; they've got all the classics and even the good songs from the later-era "Trial By Fire." I can't really fault this collection for not having any tracks from the excellent "Revelation" as it hadn't been out yet when this collection was released in 2001.

So what's my problem with this dual-disc set? These are all remasters, and by 2001 we were well into the loudness war (look it up) when "remaster" meant "make the CD louder at the expense of dynamics and sound quality." It's a shame, since Journey has fantastic dynamic music that needs breathing room. This is not extreme death metal where everything in the mix is brought up to 11 all the time; this is solid classic rock we're dealing with here.

Think of the beginning to "Don't Stop Believin'": the piano and bass start off soft, then Perry's voice ups the volume slightly with his opening line "Just a small town girl..." Then after "He took the midnight train goin' anywhere," there's a short guitar solo that ups the intensity even more, ending with what is the first drum hit we hear. Perry returns with even more passion on "A singer in a smoky room," then by the chorus we're in full steam. The emotional peak of the song is arguably when Perry hits the high note of "Hiding somewhere in the night" and the main guitar solo kicks in. It rocks. The song is DYNAMIC; there's pushes and pulls, soft and loud, and that's what makes the song so interesting to listen to. There's NONE of that in this disc set, as the dynamics are completely squashed to make the whole CD louder. I A/B this remastered version of "Don't Stop" with the original (with the volumes being the same), and the original came out on top.

People have been fooled into thinking louder is better, since the Fletcher-Munson curve dictates we don't hear all the frequencies we like in music at lower volumes, and "loudness war" remasterings bring all the frequencies up to the same level without the need to turn up your volume knob. But the problem is, the only way to do that is to clip off peaks where the music pumps and changes up, and the softer parts are brought up to the same level as the loudest parts. If you turn up the music (not insane levels, mind you, just "up") your ears will quickly become fatigued, and there goes your enjoyable listening experience. You'll be done after two songs if you're really listening to them, I guarantee it. Also, not only are the dynamics gone, but you lose a bit of the clarity and soundstage too. There's comparison videos on the internet of this where the remasters are brought down to the level of the originals and the results speak for themselves.

A good chunk of this collection can be found in their "Greatest Hits" album that came out in 1988; yes, BEFORE the loudness war took hold of sound quality. It was mastered by Bob Ludwig, a true artist of his craft who respects the source material and did a much more tasteful mastering job. Note that this Greatest Hits was again remastered in 1996 a bit too loud, and most recently in 2006 that's way, way too loud. Get the 1988 version that has the "Compact Disc" logo on the front and a ASIN number on Amazon of B0000026NF; it's dirt cheap used. Probably the only song that this "Essential" set improves on is Chain Reaction, since it wasn't on the '88 CD and the original '83 Frontiers album it's from suffers from a sub-par CD mastering. That's about it, though; the audio files on this dual-disc aren't worth the plastic they're burned on.
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on April 27, 2008
Disk 1 is a veritable Greatest Hits Journey Album, containing most of the great ones, whereas with Disk 2 it's debatable as to whether all of the songs on it are "essential Journey" qualified (Line of Fire, Baby I'm a Leavin You? Uh, I question those selections). Songs arguably more "essential", like `Suzanne' and `Why Can't This Night Go On Forever' were left off. Nevertheless, Disk 2 is still a good one and has mostly worthy songs.

It's my opinion that two of the most significant factors that made Journey the world-class band it was in the 80s was the voice of Perry in singing some of rock's greatest ballads - Open Arms, Who's Cryin' Now, Send Her My Love, to name a few - and Journey's capability to write heart-felt lyrics for those ballads, lyrics that most anyone who has ever loved, or loved and lost, can listen and relate to.

I now realize that Journey's lyrics are timeless, their meanings changing only in their reference with life's experiences and advancing time, but never becoming outdated. Separate Ways (World's Apart) comes immediately to mind: those lyrics have much more relevance to me today then ever before, even after more than 20 years (True love won't desert you; You know I still love you; Though we touched and went our separate ways).

Then there's the classic among classics, the ballad that knows no equal - Faithfully. Only Journey and Perry can do that song justice; only Perry can provide the vocal power that's necessary to convey the emotion of the song. Faithfully is a song that will live with me forever; the memories linked directly to it are unforgetable. Years ago someone dear to me once asked which song I might choose should there ever be a chance to share a dance together. At the time I couldn't answer the question directly but today I answer that it would be Faithfully.
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