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Styx - Crystal Ball CD (album) cover

CRYSTAL BALL

Styx

 

Prog Related

3.10 | 116 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Ivan_Melgar_M
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Prog Specialist
4 stars Many Progheads feel embarrassed to admit they like the music of STYX, probably because nobody knows for sure if we are talking about a Prog band, honestly I can't care less, even when I believe they recorded outstanding Prog material until "The Grand Illusion", the important issue here is the music and STYX really rocks.

"Crystal Ball" is a crucial album for the band, after several years and their most Progressive releases, John Curulewsky leaves the band and is replaced by Tommy Shaw, who despite his appearance of California Boy and hook with the feminine public, had an interest for Progressive Rock, while Dennis De Young progressively became more interested in POP, Tommy Shaw provided the balance between creativity and commercial success that the band required and was responsible for some of the best tracks the band ever released.

But we are talking about Crystal Ball, the first artistically solid album with economic success; after many years, STYX had ceased to be a local phenomenon of Chicago and gave the step to become icons of USA Rock.

The album starts with "Put Me On" and it's pompous into, where guitar and keyboards blend to create one of the most memorable songs in STYX's career. For the first time they trademarked chorus with at least four members singing simultaneously are used, while Dennis and JY take turns for the lead vocals. Contrasting sections, frantic rhythm, sold melody and outstanding guitar work open the album with the strength required to prove it is the dawn of a new era.

"Mademoiselle" is another track from this album that became a symbol of the band and was played along all their career in different concerts and gigs, this time Tommy Shaw takes the lead vocals and does a good job. Less frenetic than the precious but intelligently constructed, the song flows from start to end, another nice moment.

"Jennifer" is a power ballad with POP fugues, not the most memorable track from the band and soon forgotten after the release of the album, probably the most important characteristic of "Jennifer" are the excellent chorus that work perfectly with Dennis vocals. Not Prog at all, but very strong and solid Rock & Roll.

"Crystal Ball" is the first 100% Shaw song of the band, and must say that is outstanding, despite apparently being a simple ballad, has an excellent melody where Tommy gives every thing in his performance with a great backing by all the band and one of the best Moog solos by De Young. Would had liked a different ending rather than the bland fading, but despite this minor flaw, it's excellent material.

"Shooz" is probably the weakest track of the album is it wasn't because I saw the name in the tracklist, I would had not remembered this filler, no need to review it, just use the skip button.

"This Old Man" is one of this cases in which I can't understand how such an excellent song has been forgotten, De Young does an awesome job creating a dramatic atmosphere, his voice, even when no the best in town, blends perfectly with his own keyboards and JY's guitar, around the middle the dark and haunting mood is simply outstanding, a song that deserved a better destiny.

"Clair de Lune/Ballerina" starts with a fantastic Debussy rendition, but suddenly Dennis vocals replace the classical section for an interesting soft melody with a great job by JY in the guitar and a perfect supporting job by the Panozzo twins in the bass and drums, several dramatic changes that link perfectly one with the other proved us that this guys were ready for something greater, probably not as serious and complex as their first three releases, but if they wanted to be a massive band, the had to change, and they did it with class.

I will take the risk and rate "Crystal Ball" with 4 stars, a couple of weaker songs, plus the fact that the album is not a masterpiece, don't allow me to give a higher rating.

I know people will ask me "How could you rate so high a barely Prog album?" and I will answer "Who cares, I consider it essential for any Rock collection". If it's Prog great, if it's not Prog in a traditional sense.It's a prove that there is great music outside the Prog scenario.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |

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