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Styx - Styx II CD (album) cover




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3.14 | 131 ratings

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4 stars Is this the second Styx album? How did you know, the title Styx II? What would have happened in the old days before ProgArchives or Amazon of I wouldn't have known if 'The Serpent is rising' was their third of eleventh album? So it seemed quite reasonable to call it Styx II. But what does the music sound like?

It starts off with the hard-rocking 'You need love' with an enthusiastic James Young lead vocal, this song also has some psychedelic feeling with the organs and stuff. Now it meanders a bit, I think it would have been better to stick with the original hard rock sound rather than trying to mish mash it with the psychedelic/bubble gum parts, but at least they were trying to do something different, I mean Bubble-gum psych meets lean-mean hard rock? This is followed by 'Lady', a grand ballad that builds into more rocking parts. Although this is a Dennis DeYoung song, in the chorus the band sing in harmony. The organs add a nice touch to this romantic song. The is followed by A Day, which is a wonderful 8 minute song from John Curulewski. It's mellow and acoustic, with some nice bongo drums or something, and has an extended instrumental in the middle! This song actually sounds like a progressive rock song! But John Curuleski's songs often are more progressive then Dennis or James (or Tommy Shaw for that matter), maybe he was in the wrong band? But he follows it up with an American Rock number, 'You better ask', but maybe this is a parody of American Rock. So many AR songs are about a one night stand someone picked up in a bar and about glorifying the one-night stand. This song is about a one-ngihter that John picked up in the bar, but this is anything but glorious, as John gets the girl pregnant, her father looks at him real mean and he even ends up with an STD! The lyrics are hilarious and will have you (well that means me) in stitches!

We flip over and hear an organ solo, actually it's a classical music piece, and leads into 'Father OSA". This is Dennis DeYoung's attempt at a big prog epic. Usually his 7-minute songs are only good for about the first four minutes (Suite Madame Blue, Ballerina, etc.) and then become a bit ( A BIT! We'll charge you with understatement Sir!) repetitious, to drag out to the 7 minutes, and this is no exception. That said, the opening melody that carries most of the song is so good that it feels more prophetic than repetitive, possibly the best song to go seven minutes that Dennis DeYoung did? Well possibly! Though I do think he wrote a song called 'Come sail away", can't remember how long it was though... This album is rounded out with two fairly short hard-rock songs, 'Earl of roseland' and 'I'm gonna make you feel it'. The first one is actually dragged out to almost five minutes, and I think it would have been better left at about three and a half, there's too many un-necessary guitar solos fleshing this song out. That said, I really like this song, it's my personal favourite from the album, because it's not totally generic hard rock, the riffs deviate from predictable blues based heavy riffs quite enough to be interesting, catchy chorus too! The closing 'I'm gonna make you feel it' is a hard-rock blast and it only lasts 2:21. Great, powerful vocals from James Young who didn't write the song, Dennis did. See, they were being nice to one another at this time, but later on...

Alla in all, there is nothing bad herem but essentially there is only seven songs, and this album just misses the 35 minute mark. We're not really getting enough quality material from Styx to be able to give them 5. None of these songs are bad, no not at all, but some are just fleshed out a bit too much with needless soloing (I'm not talking about 'A Day', the soloing on that is superb), in an attempt to drag the songs out to longer times to make them seem more progressive than they really are. They did this constantly through their glory period (73-83), if you can call it that! It would have been better to reduce fleshing out the songs and instead include more songs so the listener has more to chew on. They've put out enough great material through the seventies to make a 5 star album, but usually they have five or six excellent songs, and then the last song is dragged out to flesh out the album. They did this on all the albums that followed right through to Paradise Theatre, with a couple of exception (notably the weak 'Cornerstone', and 'Man of Miracles' which suffered from too many songs sounding the same). They even did it on the first album, dragging out the first song too long with talking and other things.

Anywa, Styx II is one of their better albums.

Brendan | 4/5 |


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