Reviewed by DBSilver on 17 Feb 2002
The original - performed and recorded live in 1974- was a noteworthy album. The respect it has is as much a part of it's novelty as it is the music or the performances. 25 years later and Wakeman returns to this well and the results are more complex.
It is not live - and the excitment, energy, and risk this brings is not present. This thing has been done before. As with the first Journey, the 'guest' vocalists interrupt the contintuity with an 'oh hey! that's Ozzy' kind of effect. Finally, as was also true of the original Jouney, some of the songs could not survive outside of a concept - they are too schlocky or melodramitic.
Now the good news.
Most of the melodies on the Return are better than those on the original. The orchestral and choir parts (a majority of the album) are simply more interesting, better composed and better scored. Patrick Stewart does the kind of work he is a natural at and fits in easilly. Finally, the overall recording lacks the flamboyance and therefore the sillyness that sometimes affected the first Journey.
The end result is a recording that is just different enough from the original to be considered it's peer instead of it proginey and in this comparison, I think that I prefer the maturity of the Return over the youthful energy of the original Journey.