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Styx - Styx CD (album) cover




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2.80 | 125 ratings

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3 stars Nearly every review here on PA of Styx's 1972 debut album will tell you that the band represented by this music is a long stretch away from the classic band of the latter half of the seventies. The same could be said for any classic seventies bands because music was evolving rapidly at the time. Every great band has its humble beginnings, and debut albums are often where a band will show what they've been working on for the last few years before they begin turning away from their early sound in search of something more developed. "Styx" is no different. The album is young, raw, and of its year: hard and heavy guitar rock with some boogie rock and lots of organ with only hints of the more progressive efforts to come. What is also surprising, however, is that of the six tracks, only two are original songs written by the band. The other four were requested by the record label; the band recorded four covers of songs they had never heard before.

"Movement for the Common Man" is basically two songs connected by instrumental and spoken word interludes. The first part, "Children of the Land" is a boogie rock number written and sung by guitarist James Young. It's quite straightforward, no frills guitar and piano rocker. It's followed by a short but interesting percussion solo by drummer John Panozzo (too many early seventies albums have so much unnecessary drum solo filler, so it's nice to hear one that's not too long and that has some more interesting sounds happening). An instrumental featuring guitar and organ solos followed before a train rushes past and we then hear comments from people on the street (and a bus driver it seems) about how young people today have too much money and don't know the value of hard work or personal hygiene. A Styx reworking of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" introduces the second proper song in this first track, a song called "Mother Nature's Matinee" written by Dennis DeYoung and sung by both Young and DeYoung. This is perhaps the proggiest track on the album and the first to indicate what the band would be capable of in the future.

The other original song is "Best Thing", another Young/DeYoung collaboration that stands out very well. It features both acoustic guitar and heavy rock guitar and lots of organ. I'd say it would sound very nice in a compilation of early seventies heavy rock songs, including Uriah Heep, Bodkin, Lucifer's Friend, and even Coverdale/Hughes era Deep Purple.

The remaining four tracks are the cover tunes, and of those I like "Quick Is the Beat of My Heart" and "After You Leave Me" best, though "What Has Come Between Us" is also pretty good, with a dramatic intro and Dennis DeYoung's keyboards out for show. In a way, it's representative of future DeYoung works in spite of it being a cover.

The style and sound on these tracks have been adapted to suit this early version of Styx, and until I read that these tracks were covers, I believed them to be all band originals because I had never heard them before either. Only the side one closer, "Right Away" is a drag, sounding like a very typical southern rock-tinged song with a repeating chorus that promises nothing but too much beer drinking among partially inebriated bar dwellers, swaying drunkenly on their bar stools.

One interesting note is that Young takes lead vocal duty the most with DeYoung only taking lead on two songs and sharing lead on one. Dennis DeYoung would of course later give the band many of its biggest hits. Guitarist John Curulewski, who sings on later Styx albums, offers no lead vocals on the debut.

Some people have some pretty harsh opinions about this album, but I rather like it. If you're not looking for a true progressive rock band but content with a hard/heavy rock band that flirt with progressive rock in only two or three songs, then this albums rewards. However, if you're looking for the band that would later deliver "Equinox", "The Grand Illusion" or "Pieces of Eight", then what you'll find here is the unrefined, post-acne youth with energy and ambition but not yet enough experience or maturation.

FragileKings | 3/5 |


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