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Styx - Greatest Hits CD (album) cover

GREATEST HITS

Styx

 

Prog Related

2.84 | 29 ratings

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Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Nominee for the "Most Unfairly Maligned Band Ever" Award.

As the bio I'm reading states, Styx were never cool. They couldn't catch a break. Radio stations rolled their eyes, serious rockers cursed their cheesiness, and proggers blew them off pretty much completely. But as with Kansas, their Midwest cohorts, Styx had the last laugh sealed by a loyal fanbase and I believe no less than four triple Platinum albums. Someone approved. There was something special about these Midwestern bands in the 70s, with their strong work ethic, often optimistic lyrics, and camaraderie with fans willing to freeze their butts off on those winter tours of hockey sheds. The band's story is a long and interesting one beginning in the summer of '62 and filled with plenty of drama and ego battles. They would pay their dues for almost 15 years before having a blaze of success at the end.

Despite being routinely dismissed by almost everyone who claims "good taste" or critical expertise, the music of Styx is very good. Laugh all you want.

I can understand those who would complain a bit about DeYoung's theatrics or his somewhat cheesy ballads (though I like them), but I can't understand those who outright dismiss their work altogether. Kansas and Styx get frequently lumped together with ho-hum 70s fare like Boston, Foreigner, Journey, and REO Speedwagon, but the fact is that both Kansas and Styx blew the doors off those other radio darlings, blending solid musicianship, great vocals, and interesting songwriting. Styx's songs were without question prog-influenced even as the band strove to remain more commercial and to be entertaining, not "difficult." All of their big albums contained flamboyant, larger than life, keyboard-heavy gems courtesy of DeYoung, along with ripping rockers courtesy of Tommy Shaw and James Young.

Typically I don't like collections and I rarely rate them highly, finding them completely useless for long-winded prog bands like Yes or Floyd. But this collection works beautifully for a band like Styx. Their choicest track list is served up here, covering all of their best loved songs which seem to flow together well outside of their respective albums. I would still suggest buying individual albums to get the real experience, but if you insist on covering Styx with only one disc in your collection, this one gives you plenty of bang for your buck. The album does ignore the Wooden Nickel era with the exception of "Lady" which they re-recorded in 1995.

Prog snobs will always laugh at Styx as I once did myself. And while I'd never claim they are complex prog or the greatest rock band, I will say the band sound better than ever revisited after all these years. Superb vocal harmonies, great guitar riffs, beautiful keyboards, and hugely memorable melodies. If one is not invoking some prog snobbiness, then what the hell is there not to like? I never thought I'd listen to this stuff again, but really needed some levity during what has been one hell of a rough period. I discovered how much fun it can be to reconnect with old musical friends you haven't heard since Junior High. And I wonder why I ever snubbed them. Twas fooling myself with cynical eyes perhaps?

Finnforest | 4/5 |

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