Wheel In The Sky Returning: Journey Plan Retrospective Release

Two-CD set, due in October, features 32 songs by Steve Perry, Neal Schon et al.

Though some are loath to admit it, anyone who grew up in the '80s probably has memories of Journey songs as the soundtrack to pivotal coming-of-age moments — special dates, messy breakups or wicked-awesome driving experiences.

Indeed, there was something special about Steve Perry's vibrato-wobbling howl, Neal Schon's fuzz-polished guitar riffs and the band's saccharine yet powerfully melodic songwriting that struck a nerve and defined an era. And while the band's slick studio techniques inarguably sound dated today, Journey's songs continue to stand up — as evidenced by the two-disc set The Essential Journey, which hits shelves October 16.

The package features 32 songs, 30 of which come from eight records the band released between 1978 and 1996. The other two cuts are from the soundtracks Vision Quest and Two of a Kind. Curiously, there are no tracks from the group's first three studio albums — Journey (1975), Look Into the Future (1976) and Next (1977).

Most heavily represented is the 1981 opus Escape, from which seven tunes have been culled, including "Don't Stop Believin'," "Who's Crying Now" and "Open Arms." Runners-up are Frontiers (1983) and Infinity (1978), each of which provided five tracks for the compilation. The Frontiers cuts include "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)," "Send Her My Love" and "Faithfully"; Infinity songs include "Wheel in the Sky" and "Lights."

Now, if only Bally Midway would re-release that killer Journey arcade game from 1983. ...