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Styx - Kilroy Was Here CD (album) cover




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2.15 | 143 ratings

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2 stars Yikes

'I remember the first time I heard 'Mr. Roboto' some point a band's gonna put out a record that makes you think...'Well, that's it.' I kind of felt that way about Kilroy." -Todd Sucherman, latter day Styx drummer

During much of the 'Cornerstone' and 'Paradise Theater' era, guitarists Tommy Shaw and James Young were needlessly freaking out as Dennis DeYoung continued to deliver fine concepts and songs. Both albums are great despite the many critical naysayers. Shaw in particular began to withdraw as the quality of his contribution declined generally, and his interest in cocaine increased, none of which he denies. However, by the time their '82 tour ended and DeYoung hatched his new idea for yet another concept album, I flip to the Shaw/Young camp with my sympathies. This time Dennis not only created something so cold and restrictive to the strengths of his bandmates, but for the first time, he didn't have the goods to back himself up. The material this time was far from compelling or emotionally satisfying.

'I just couldn't come up with songs about robots' -Tommy Shaw

The music of Kilroy is the weakest the band had issued in many years. Ironically, despite their outspoken condemnation of the album it is Shaw and Young who deliver the three good songs. DeYoung strikes out completely in that regard. The album's high point is the three song stretch of 'Heavy Metal Poisoning/Just Get Through This Night/Double Life.' Heavy Metal and Double Life were written by Young and both are more inventive than his usual slash and burn riff-rockers, featuring his trademark unique vocal prowess. 'Just Get Through This Night' feels like the flip side of his 'Love in the Midnight' bad boy persona, more thoughtful, with a sensitive vocal that imparts the sense of loneliness and restlessness he feels. Other tracks are much less successful, like Shaw's aimless 'Cold War' and DeYoung's 'High Time.' Even DeYoung's hit single 'Don't Let It End' fails, its sappy lyrics and delivery much more deserving of the wrath that was laid at the feet of the far superior 'Babe' years earlier.

The video that accompanied the album was an even bigger disaster, absolutely one-star nonsense whose poor acting and dreadful execution would be bested by high school short film projects. When presented at huge Texas stadiums filled with rowdy fans there to see Nugent and others, Shaw thought he would be killed recreating this dialogue. He wasn't far off. But even beyond the songs themselves, the Kilroy project simply fails to give the listener the same sense of sincere emotion and energy they expected. Styx was a band of upbeat rocking and confidence which came through in their music. It wasn't necessary for them to attempt this clumsy, dark concept album. Others had covered such terrain far more convincingly.

There was potential here but it required much more thought and teamwork to pull it off, and the band's relationships at this point made such collaboration impossible. Fans will certainly want to hear this and some will like it. But for me it is a sadly missed opportunity and a project that took down a very good band. The tour for Kilroy would be a disaster and Tommy Shaw quit the band soon thereafter. Later comebacks and today's hollow imposter band would never recapture the magic last witnessed with Paradise Theater. Game over in the land of the Stygians.

Finnforest | 2/5 |


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