Monday, July 27, 2009

Styx the early years

Styx is my favorite rock group. One of the reasons I have like the band is because it is hard to put their music into anyone category. Rock-n-Roll, pop, hard rock, soft rock, new wave. The band has had hits in all these feilds too. At any time in the bands history, they have had 3 vocalists. Dennis DeYoung (keys), Tommy Shaw (guitar), James Young (guitar), John Curuleswski(guitar), Lareance Gowan (keys) , and Glen Burtnik (guitar). Plus the band has had Todd Sucherman and John Paanozzo on drums. Also on bass was original bass man Chuck Panoozzo, and now Ricky Phillips. But no matter the line-up or the year, the band has made good music and put on great concerts.
The early years of Styx was Dennis, John C., John P, JY and Chuck, this was up until the Equniox cd, which would be John C's last.

Styx-1972 (C-)

The first cd by Styx is the most un Styx like of all the cds. 2 or 3 songs on the cd are written by the members of the band, the rest of the cd is covers. Not that the covers are bad, they just are not that good. Styx would not have a good covers cd till about 30 years later. My favorite cover song, which is my favorite song on the cd, is Quick Is The Beat Of My Heart. Best Thing is my favorite Styx written song. But I would not buy this cd if I were not a Styx fan, any of their best of cds from this era 2 of the 3 good songs on the cd. By the way, the cover show is from the 1980 re-releases, this not the original.

Styx 2-1973 (C+)

After a lackluster start, Styx came back with their follow up CD, Styx 2. This time writing their own songs, and John C. singing on the two songs that he wrote, A Day, and You better ask. A Day is a good song, containing a very good instrumental in the middle. You Better Ask is one of the two weak songs on the CD, a song about VD and pregnancy and the problem it causes. But the star of this CD is Dennis. Writing five of the six songs, and handling vocals on three of them. Dennis started it all right here, with a song called Lady. Not a hit at first, but a couple years after the release of this CD, it would be a top ten hit, their first of many. Father O.S.A. one of the other songs that Dennis has lead vocals on is a prelude of songs to come for the group (Madame Blue, etc). JY isn't to be counted out, handling vocals on You Need Love and the rocker I'm Gonna Make You Feel It, which is a great closer for the CD. Styx showed life on this CD, long before anyone really knew them. Earl Of Roseland is my least liked song on the cd, Dennis' voice is grating.

Serpent is Rising -1973 (D+)

I remember when I first got his album (CD), I put it on and cranked it up. I was totally blown away by the opening track, Witch Wolf, JY had created an awesome rocker. But things didn't awesome for long. The Grove of Eglantine, by Dennis falls flat, one of my least liked songs by Dennis. I do not like the way it is sang, arranged, I just don't care for it. But JY, again saves the CD with the third track, Young Man. This track has a meaning behind it, and can still be sung today as easily as when the Vietnam war was going on. And this song kicks butt. JC, enters the game with a good As Bad As This, but by the time the track is over, a non listed song pops up, Plexiglass Toilet. This has to be the worst Styx song in history. Its a embarrassment to listen to, when I play the CD now, I have to hit the skip button. It's hard to keep listening to the CD after hearing this song, most of the time, I'm able to move on to the next song. But since its a "hidden" song its tacked onto the end of As Bad As This, and you can't program your player to skip "Plexi"without skipping "As bad as.." The next song is Winner Takes All, a good message, but Jy voice is whiny, and the CD never really recovers with the following tracks.The CD really tries to rock, and at points it really does. Witch Wolf, and Young Man are two of JY's finest. Dennis writes three songs and sings vocals on two, one of witch is a duet with JC. As a concept CD, which it tries to be, it comes up very short with its dark message. Basically it is some songs (most of them poorly produced and written) with a very very thin theme in some of them.

Man of Miracles-1974 (B-)

Their 1974 release, starts off with the rocking Rock and Roll Feeling and ends with the metal title track Man of Miracles. And this CD contains some very good songs, even though they never got any air play, Lady from Styx 2 was starting to be picked up ath the time of this release .This CD contains other rockers besides the two mentioned above, Southern Woman the 3rd sung and written by JY, shows that he could carry a STYX CD. He also sings A Man Like Me, Havin' a Ball, and shares vocals with Dennis on Lies. Having written or, co-written about half the tracks on this outing, JY made what would be his best STYX CD. He would later be reduced to one to two songs a CD, as the Tommy and Dennis pair would take over the writing chores on later Cd's.Dennis made his presence know this time, on the last CD (SERPENT) he was almost unnoticed. But this time he showed his style, that would later develop into his superstar writing pattern.Here he as the songs Golden Lark, A Song for Suzanne,both good, the haunting Evil Eyes, the lackluster Christopher, Mr.Christopher. And if you were lucky you may have the CD with the hidden track Unfinished Song, which besides Lady is his best song up to this date. JC didn't sing on this outing, and he only co-wrote three songs. Rest of the band Chuck and John, show a growing connection in the playing together, the whole group appears to be coming together. only leave Havin' a Ball, which keeps repeating itself, is the weakest song this time, followed by DeYoung's Christoper song .Over all not a bad album.

Equniox-1975 (B+)

Styx starts off their new CD with a one two punch, Light up, and Lorelei. Both songs sung by Dennis show the growing range of his vocals, and the range of his keyboards. The former was written with JY (which he now sings lead vocals on in concert). The CD is very keyboard driven, and very well produced. Both songs, along with this Cd's Suite Madame Blue are Styx' classics. Suite Madame Blue is one of my all time favorite songs, the live versions of this song stand out above just about any song on radio or in concert today. Lonely Child is your typical Dennis song. Midnight Ride is a classic JY song, and one of his best ever. Mother Dear would be JC's last song for Styx (he would leave the group before they would start this tour), and other than some good keyboard work, this song falls flat. Born for Adventure, is a good rocker.Overall not a bad start with their new record label, and it stands up well to the test of time. Over the past couple of years this CD has grown on me even more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Steve Perry is one of the all time greats and his ride with journey was a chemistry thing. They had a chemistry that is now gone. Neal was a great guitarist and they complimented eachother. Steve would have been one of the greatist no matter what or who played on stage with him, like Brad Belp of Boston they are inevitabley in our minds forever. No one can replace theses guys in their bands.