Saturday, September 12, 1981

Journey’s Escape hit #1



Released: July 31, 1981

Peak: 11 US, 32 UK, 6 CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): 9.0 US, -- UK, 12.1 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Don’t Stop Believin’ (8/15/81, 9 US, 8 AR, 6 UK, 9 CN, 100 AU, sales: 5 million)
  2. Stone in Love (8/1/81, 13 AR)
  3. Who’s Crying Now (7/18/81, 4 US, 4 AR, 14 AC, 46 UK, 3 CN, 65 AU, sales: 1.0 m, airplay: 2.0 m)
  4. Keep on Runnin’
  5. Still They Ride (5/22/82, 19 US, 47 AR, 37 AC)
  6. Escape
  7. Lay It Down
  8. Dead or Alive
  9. Mother, Father
  10. Open Arms (1/16/82, 2 US, 35 AR, 7 AC, 2 CN, 43 AU, sales: 1 million, airplay: 3 million)

Total Running Time: 42:46

The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Jonathan Cain (keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Smith (drums)


4.112 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)

Quotable: Journey’s “definitive statement” – Classic Rock Magazine

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Escape was a groundbreaking album for San Francisco’s Journey,” MD flinging the band “steadfastly into the AOR arena” MD and making “them stadium-filling superstars.” CR The album is marked by songs that “are more rock-flavored, with more hooks and a harder cadence compared to their former sound.” MD

Part of the new sound could be attributed to Jonathan Cain, who came on board as the keyboardist after the departure of founding member Gregg Rolie. He co-wrote every song on the album and his “blatant keyboards” MD combined with “Neal Schon’s grand yet palatable guitar playing” MD and “the passionate, wide-ranged vocals of Steve Perry, who is the true lifeblood of this album, and this band.” MD The “heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship” MD has “a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up.” MD

The year of its release could be marked as the pinnacle of arena rock. REO Speedwagon, Styx, Foreigner, and Journey had all been around since at least the mid-‘70s and amassed huge followings, but peaked that year with the only #1 albums of their careers.

All four groups were savaged by critics. Their power ballads were mocked and their proclivity toward radio-friendly rock wasn’t taken seriously. Journey may have had the last laugh, though. More than two decades after Don’t Stop Believin’ first hit the charts, it had a surprising resurgence when it was used in the finale of television’s The Sopranos. Then it also served as the springboard for Glee, giving that television franchise a #4 hit. The song, an evocative tale of “‘streetlight people, living just to find emotion’, became an American classic.” CR “The whisper of Perry’s ardor is crept up to with Schon’s searing electric guitar work, making for a perfect rock song.” MD Thanks to its revival, it has sold five million copies and become the biggest hit in Journey’s catalog.

However, it was only one of three top-ten, million-selling singles from Escape. The lead single from the album, Who's Crying Now, “spotlights the sweeping fervor of Perry’s voice, whose theme about the ups and downs of a relationship was plentiful in Journey’s repertoire.” MD

“One of rock’s most beautiful ballads, Open Arms, gleams with an honesty and feel only Steve Perry could muster.” MD The song, “rejected by [Cain’s] previous band The Babys – was a monster hit” CR and the quintessential power ballad. It was as close as Journey got to a #1 song on the pop charts – it spent six weeks at #2 on the Billboard charts.

“There is a certain electricity that circulates through the rest of the album.” MD While the album is best known for those three singles, the album also boasted a fourth single, the top 20 hit Still They Ride, and album-rock favorite Stone in Love. “The songs are timeless, and as a whole, they have a way of rekindling the innocence of youthful romance and the rebelliousness of growing up, built from heartfelt songwriting and sturdy musicianship.” MDEscape became Journey’s “definitive statement” CR – its biggest-selling studio album and “one of their most popular and best-reviewed works to date.” JM

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/29/2021.

Saturday, September 5, 1981

Soft Cell hit #1 in the UK with “Tainted Love”

First posted 4/17/2019; updated 4/21/2020.

Tainted Love

Soft Cell

Writer(s): Ed Cobb (see lyrics here)

Released: July 17, 1981

First Charted: August 1, 1981

Peak: 8 US, 7 CB, 58 HR, 7 RR, 12 AR, 12 UK, 13 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.35 UK, 1.45 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 24.5 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

While most people know this song because of Soft Cell, it actually originated in the mid-‘60s. Ed Cobb, a former member of the U.S. group the Four Preps, wrote the song about toxic relationships. He told Blender magazine, “I had a lover for whom you could say wasn’t a good individual. I tried to go into her head and write a song from her standpoint.” SF

The resulting song was recorded by American R&B singer Gloria Jones and released as the B-side of her 1965 single “My Bad Boy’s Comin’ Home.” While the song didn’t take off at the time, it found an audience years later when Richard Searling, a club DJ, picked up a copy of the song in Philadelphia in 1973. He began playing it during his sets at Va Va’s, a popular club in Bolton, England. The song found life again and Jones re-recorded it in 1976. SF

The duo of Dave Ball and Marc Almond formed Soft Cell in 1979 and, at Ball’s suggestion, recorded the song to use as an encore for their shows. KL “It was a novelty to have an electronic synthesizer band doing a soul song.” KL Soft Cell’s record label wanted them to record the song, but add bass, guitar, and drums. As Almond said, though, “We wanted to be a guitarless band…We were looked on as rubbish, but we had the last laugh.” KL

Indeed. In their native UK, Soft Cell’s recording of “Tainted Love” became the best-selling single of 1981. WK The song didn’t chart in the U.S. until the following year. By the summer of 1982, it reached #8 and before its run was done, it had accumulated a then record-breaking 43 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. WK The DMDB ranks the song as one of the top 5 new wave/college rock songs of all-time.

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