Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Styx - Styx II CD (album) cover

STYX II

Styx

 

Prog Related

3.13 | 116 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Finnforest
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Lady arrives early to one lame party

When the first Styx album bombed the band convinced their label they should have more control of the second album, which they were granted. But because the promotion they got was basically nil, the results were not much different in terms of success. While some called the second album a huge leap forward from the debut in quality and production, I can only agree on the latter. The debut is a more memorable collection of music despite Styx II having two very important tracks.

Dennis DeYoung took control of Styx II and wrote all but two of the songs, but as a writer he was not yet at his creative peak. The exception was the track "Lady" (written for his wife Suzanne) which gave a startling insight into his skills at writing those romantic power ballads which would be so prominent on future albums. It was a song he was urged to write by label guy Bill Traut in an attempt to have some commercial breakthrough, Traut wanted a song which would perk the ears of teenage girls. The other guys in the band were not pleased by "Lady" in another eerie foreshadow of tension coming five years later. But they gave in and the song would eventually be crucial in helping to break the band nationally, though it did not happen right away. The song itself is a near perfect pop song with a gorgeous melody and a powerful chorus. The moody progger of the band, the late guitarist John Curulewski, disliked the song but frequently had good ideas. He added those nice rhythm guitar chugs through the verses while James Young took the big swipes at the end. "Lady" is a great single but one that arrived too early to the party Styx were at in 1973. It's a song that would help define Dennis DeYoung and begin to find them a radio audience.

For his part Curulewski contributed "A Day" which was the proggy highlight of the album, an 8-minute plus drifting dirge of soft emotions which rolls over the listening in waves. Gentle acoustic guitars and sad piano, light bass and drums, trippy effects throughout. Eventually it builds into a more fiery jam with dual lead electric guitars. His more fragile and plaintive vocal delivery is a stark contrast to the usual Styx bombast, and the song sounds more like a lazy Allman Brothers track or a Traffic number than a Styx song. This is the kind of wonderful "box of chocolates" albums listeners were treated to in those days. The musicians were experimenting as songwriters and nothing was concrete, so you have some wildly diverse material that can sound nothing like the Styx default "sound" you have in your mind. John's other track was the somewhat silly but fun "You Better Ask" which discusses his unfortunate encounters with "social diseases."

The rest of the album served up DeYoung's nice treatment of a Bach piece which he recorded by running a long cable from the church organ at the Cathedral of St. James down the street from the studio. His other originals were not his best work and he began a period of self-doubt as a writer, turning over some of the leadership on the next album to the others. "Earl of Roseland" was a warm and nostalgic lyrical reminisce of the band's early days in their neighborhood, but falls rather flat as good music goes. "Father OSA" was a song about his Dad which is personal and has some nice keyboard work, but again, these songs just do not deliver the goods. I'm surprised it is something of a favorite to Styx fans.

Styx II is a disappointing album and "for fans" of the band, and to fans I recommend it for what is one of John Curulewski's best tracks, "A Day." Beyond that, I would not recommend the album except as part of the excellent collection "The Complete Wooden Nickel Recordings" which is the best way to experience the first four Styx albums on CD.

Finnforest | 2/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this STYX review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives