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Styx - The Grand Illusion CD (album) cover




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3.75 | 303 ratings

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3 stars |C| Good, but not essential. If you like AOR, however...

Styx is a band I (not surprisingly) have always had mixed feelings about. I grew up on this sort of late seventies early eighties melodic hard rock most often referred to as AOR, an acronym for Album Oriented Rock (a misnomer if ever there was one). My Mom always played bands like this in the car, so I developed a taste for music like this, which has withered away since my discovery of prog in high school. One album we often listened to was their (first) greatest hits compilation, which I loved for awhile until I developed an allergy to pure money making pop (so now I hate most of it). But that compilation did have some of the songs on this album, which are the ones that stuck with me today. It's interesting, actually, I ran into a place by my college selling old vinyl's for two dollars each, and saw this one... yoink, it was mine!

So I played it on an old turn table my parents got recently, and was pretty pleased with the album overall. All of those classic prog-ish songs I listened to as a child were there, Grand Illusion, Foolin' Yourself, and Come Sail Away were there, so the album was worth buying after all. Deyoung's keyboard work on those songs just blows literally anything else in AOR out of the water (except Kansas, if you consider them AOR). Not that it's anything worthy enough to be referred to as masterpiece material or anything like that, but it is AOR, after all. I was also relatively impressed with the other tracks Castle Walls, Grand Finale, and Superstars, but what really smudged the album up were the songs that were mainly the work of Younge (don't get me wrong, I like his guitar playing, but the songs totally sucked!), Man in the Wilderness and Miss America. The album just would have been wonderful from start to finish if it weren't for those songs... they're basically really awful hard rock that makes hair metal sound pretty good (seriously, they're that bad). Luckily, the majority of this album is indeed driven by the idea of pop having proggy flavor, the results of which work pretty well in the end.

This is probably Styx's best album, though I say that with relatively scarce knowledge of the band's other albums (other than the gut-renchingly pop songs and equally gut renchingly corny songs off other albums that were on that compilation.) But I really wouldn't be surprised, as even many of the proggers who snear at the though of Styx find this album tolerable, if not enjoyable, as I certainly do. And if you happen to sorta' like AOR (Boston, Kansas, Foreigner, etc.) as I do, than this is an album you should get, if not just for those three tracks I first mentioned. Your Foolin' Yourself, if you don't believe it!

Isa | 3/5 |


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