Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

It is almost unfathomable to consider how much pop culture -- not just music -- has changed in the past quarter-century thanks to MTV. In honour of the network's 25th  anniversary this past Tuesday, August 01, we are spinning some of the '80s finest sights and sounds. We'll start off with phase one in the complete reissue campaign for Bay Area rockers Journey before diving into the triple-DVD Pure '80s: Ultimate DVD Box.

Journey -- (Columbia/Legacy)
Greatest Hits

If ever there were a band who defined the term 'Arena Rock,' Journey would certainly fit the bill. Their initial long players garnered some nominal regional notoriety, but it wasn't until Infinity (1979) that they hit the zenith of commercial and critical success. It might have had something to do with the arrival of Steve Perry (vocals) that they were able to make the San Fran paean "Lights," as well as "Wheel In The Sky," and "Anytime" instant fan favourites and staples on album-oriented rock radio.

While touring seemed to keep the combo perpetually on the road, they found time for their forceful follow-up Evolution (1979) and with it Journey's first mega-hit and Top 20 entry, "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'." Not to mention the deeper cuts "Just The Same Way" and "Lovin' You Is Easy."

Even though the moniker of their next LP seemed to indicate that Journey was turning a different corner, the music remained as powerful as ever. Departure (1980) included the ultimate '80s party tune "Any Way You Want It," and this edition has been expanded with a pair of bonuses -- the single-only side "Natural Thing" and "Little Girl" from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to the obscure foreign film Dream After Dream (1980) .

The hits kept comin' on their subsequent effort, Escape (1981). "Don't Stop Believin'," "Who's Crying Now," and the definitive power-ballad "Open Arms," all rocketed into the Top Ten, while "Still They Ride," made it to a respectable #19. Of course with so much hit power, it is little wonder Escape remained in the Top 20 for over a year and on the charts for nearly three years. This newly-expanded package lists no less than four extras -- the non-LP tune "La Raza Del Sol," and never-before-available live recordings of "Don't Stop Believin''," "Who's Crying Now," and "Open Arms," all taken from Journey's sold-out Escape tour.

Wrapping things up is Greatest Hits (1988) which gathered the cream of the four albums mentioned above. The compile additionally collected movie songs "Only The Young," from Vision Quest (1985), and "Ask The Lonely" from Two Of A Kind  (1983). Plus, "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," and "Faithfully," from Frontiers  (1983), "I'll Be Alright Without You," "Be Good To Yourself" and "The Girl Can't Help It" from Raised On Radio (1886). Now, making it even more complete is "When You Love A Woman," from the full-scale reunion Trial By Fire (1996) that brought the 'classic' line-up back together after more than a decade.

Across the board, the audio is noticeably richer and better defined -- with Evolution and Escape getting top nod for most obvious improvement -- although none have been newly remastered. Each title comes in a soft-cover gatefold mini replica of the original LP package. The liner booklets are crammed with photos and exhaustive tour schedules. Which leads to the inevitable question: when did they find the opportunity to record so much music when they were on the road for so many days out of the year?

Various Artists -- Pure '80s: The Ultimate DVD Box (Hip-O Records /UMe)

First off, this three-disc set is nowhere near being authoritative -- that is a given. But what you do get are 45 of the most memorable music videos of the 1980s. Each DVD includes 15 classics presented in both high-quality PCM stereo and 5.1 Surround playback options with equally stunning graphics to match. It's worth mentioning that each of these titles can be purchased separately. Plus, trivia buffs and info-overload geeks (like yours truly) will love the fact-filled liner inserts.

Totally New Wave­ appropriately begins with the very first video to air on MTV -- The Buggles' prophetic "Video Killed The Radio Star." What follows are over a dozen of the most unforgettable clips ranging from the DIY tongue-in-cheek madness of Devo's "Whip It," to the rarely-broadcast 'banned version' of Frankie Goes To Hollywood's one-hit wonder "Relax." Other favourites include Blondie's "Rapture," Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out," -- which looks remarkable by the way -- Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf," and the animation-driven "Take On Me" from A-Ha.

Video Idols are just that with more mini musical movies that made it into MTV's 'heavy' rotation. Or at least it seemed that every time you'd tune in, you'd see super-group Asia's "Heat Of The Moment," or Wang Chung's inescapable party-anthem "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." Watch long enough and Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" would pop up. If memory recalls, this is the video where Ritchie tries to teach a blind woman to sculpt. I hate to be the one to break it to her, but she needed more lessons. On the plus side, the early '80s entries have never looker sharper. Most specifically J. Geils Band's "Centerfold," and Quarterflash's "Harden My Heart" -- the latter of which is notable for the visual nod to Roman Polanski's cinematic masterwork Repulsion (1965).

As if there were ever a question, the final volume in the Pure '80s: The Ultimate DVD Box confirms that Headbangers Rule! Well, they certainly do when you've got a collection featuring the likes of Dio's "Holy Diver," the Scorpions' "Rock You Like A Hurricane," Rainbow's "Street Of Dreams," Y&T's seasonally appropriate "Summertime Girls," and Queensryche's "I Don't Believe In Love." Plus, hair metal deities Cinderella ("Shake Me") and Great White ("Once Bitten, Twice Shy") make an appearance as well.

Again it bears repeating the sound is superb and the visuals are sharp and well-defined throughout. Here's hoping that there are more volumes to come in the series.

Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and technical producer at WBT AM/FM in Charlotte, NC. He is a regular contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and Gaston Gazette. Comments and questions can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.

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