Header
Styx - Styx CD (album) cover

STYX

Styx

 

Prog Related

2.74 | 81 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Certif1ed
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Styx in the throat...

To someone whose first exposure to Styx was the sickly-sweet hit single "Babe", this album comes as a bit of a surprise - and it's really not too bad, as a fairly typical 1970s hard rock album with Prog pretensions.

"Movement for the Common Man" begins with a foot-tapping drum beat, quickly joined by the rest of the instruments in a blaze of typical hard rock sound, a mixture of Free, Deep Purple and even Status Quo in places, with a vocal sound somewhere between Bon Scott and Brian Connolley.

The subtitled song "Children of the Land" is presented first - a standard up-tempo rocker with a catchy tune and plenty of rock energy. A couple of guitar solos are worked in - some nice pentatonic blufferama with strong flavours of Lynyrd Skynrd. This drops down to a Santana-esque drum break, and disappears altogether for an interesting tuned percussion solo.

The changes feel a little too much, as an over-flanged bass and guitar pick up the next section - but it's not completely overdone. This builds to include the organ and a searing lead guitar to go off on a jazzy groove with flavours of Dave Brubeck. Suddenly, this is all stripped away, as a train passes, then voices babble on - somewhat similar to the vocal snippets in "Dark Side of the Moon". Background city noises are interspersed - and I'm reminded a little of the Woodstock soundtrack in the ambience that's created - but, of course, transposed. It's easy to see how this all ties in with "Fanfare to the Common Man".

Duly, Copland's "Common Man" theme is presented, with lashings of Hammond and slightly clumsy harmonisations - nevertheless, a very interesting interpretation indeed, especially as it predates ELP's rendition. Next we fly off into a Moog-led groove, then the vocals join in for what appears to be a new song section, that's actually well constructed. More widdly woo on the guitar, with Skynyrd flavours is cut across with a tension-building riff, dropping back artfully to a more mellow flute-sounding synth lead, and a more laid-back, reflective section that hints at songs like "Babe" to come later in Styx's repertoire.

A twangy acoustic, drenched with synth moves energetically towards yet another widdly guitar solo, an organ cut-across... the kitchen sink is thrown in here in a style that Boston were to claim in the late 1970s.

All in all, a very interesting Proggy piece that's nowhere near as bad as reviews I've read of this album have led me to believe - a really nice surprise. Maybe a little piecemeal - but I'm not sure how valid a criticism that is when we're talking about Progressive Rock!

This seems to be a template for much that came after it, and really, I can think of little by way of precedent. A very impressive opening.

Styx with it...

Moving along, "Right Away" also carries flavours of the great Boston debut album - the tune seems very familiar. When the chorus kicks in, though, it's in Spooky Tooth territory, reminding me strongly of "Sunshine Help Me" (The Last Puff). Again, a strong hard-rock style song is presented, with proggy flavours - the organ and piano backing with the strong vocal harmonies contributing in no small way. However, in terms of structure, this is less interesting than the preceeding track - and the guitar solo is somewhat on the sucky side. Ah. Make that both guitar solos suck like a sucking thing in suck street. Good song though.

The agitated piano entry to "What has come between us" provides a great contrast, and a good flow to the album. Styx return to the slightly piecemeal style, and the energetic entry fizzles out into a slow song reminiscent of so much late 1960s/early 1970s rock. The harpsichord sound provides a nice backing - but sadly the phrases are badly tailed off so that a song with great potential, strong melodies and powerful execution feels somewhat unsatisfying as a whole. There's plenty to like about it though - the keyboard instrumental section is rather nice, and well broken up, and the harmonies may remind some of Yes with the triad movement inherited from Buffalo Springfield. There's also a guitar solo which... here's a clue... rhymes with "ducks".

"Best Thing" is yet another song about love/relationships, never a welcome thing in Prog for me - but that riff is chunkier than a chunky Kit Kat, and the organ lends it a huge and dirty sound - a bit Black Sabbath in a way. This runs off into a very interesting direction with a little keyboard ostinato and swooping vocal harmonies before plunging back into the dirty groove. Not spectacularly proggy, but very cool indeed - a real headbanger.

"Quick is the Beat of my Heart" is another very tuneful rocker, with lush organ, a nice range of textures, good riffs, an exciting overall sound, a great keyboard solo and another noodly aimless guitar solo.

"After You Leave Me" (written by George Clinton) has more interesting textures - including guitar harmonics in the intro, and great songwriting with fantastic vocal harmonies - but no real surprises, except, maybe the ending, which has a distinct early Queen sound about it.

It's yet another great song though - completing a sextet of sonourous succulences; a veritable late night box of chocolates for the ears. And very tasty too.

Out in the Styx

Easily up there with the proggiest that Uriah Heep have to offer - but with a slicker professionalism and more consistency in the songwriting - this is a great melodic and finely arranged 1970s hard rock album - comfortably Prog-Related enough that any Progger can own it (and listen to it) without shame. For fans of that 1970s sound, this is a goldmine, and an essential purchase - but beware the guitar solos that go up to 11...

Certif1ed | 4/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this STYX review

Review related links

Social review comments () BETA

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — the ultimate jazz music virtual community | MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music virtual community


Server processing time: 0.03 seconds