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Styx - Crystal Ball CD (album) cover




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3.14 | 177 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars Put me on, put me off

The previous Equinox album had taken the sound and style of early Styx and streamlined it, giving it a more glossy production and strengthened their Pop sensibilities and thereby gearing it towards more mainstream audiences and the FM radio. Maybe they felt that they went too far in that direction because with Crystal Ball they reverted slightly toward their old style; this album rocks harder compared to the very lightweight Equinox. Indeed, several tracks remind me slightly of Rainbow!

The progressive side of the band is still here, but it wears rather thin on this album. The opener Put Me On is a basic, melodic Hard Rock song and Shoots is an abomination of middle-of-the-road hard Rock 'N' Roll and is so ordinary and generic that it becomes silly. This song is anti-progressive and it too reminds me of (the very worst sides of) Rainbow and Deep Purple from the late 70's/early 80's. The rest of this album, however, is quite enjoyable!

Crystal Ball was the first album with Tommy Shaw in the band and he contributes the very good title track. The title track is among the best songs and it is a nice semi-ballad with softer acoustic verses and a harder rocking chorus. This song also remind me slightly of Rainbow, but this time it is more in line with the good era of that band (i.e. the Ronnie James Dio-era). Mademoiselle reminds me slightly of 10cc, which is not a very good thing! Jennifer is hardly remarkable (as few songs with female first names as titles are) but still a quite ok song with an adlib chorus.

Like of Equinox, the more progressive songs are towards the end and also like on that album, this album too ends with its longest track which, once again, consisting of two parts. The first part being a classical piece by Claude Debussy. As a side note I can mention that this has also been performed by Rick Wakeman.

Crystal Ball is one of the more typical Styx albums. It was the beginning of a new era in the band's history and even if they would make a better album after this one, Crystal Ball is still one of the better Styx albums with only a few weak and distracting moments. I generally prefer this over Equinox, but it is not a remarkable step forward by any means.

Two (and a half) stars.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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