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Styx - Best of Styx CD (album) cover




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2.60 | 10 ratings

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4 stars Best of the screechy Styx anyway, taking the Wooden Nickel albums and trying to pass it off as the coin of the realm. Of course, if they'd named it "Best of the early, crappy Styx albums that no one ever plays on the radio," it would have simply been one more early, crappy Styx album, and it's not. (I'm just kidding about the "crappy" thing, since I like the early stuff a lot, but the critical consensus outside of prog's quarter is that the early Styx albums were uneven and overly ambitious. I've read the same thing about the early Rush albums too. In my best Dr. Smith impression: Indeed!) The album does include one track familiar to radio listeners, "Lady," from the only early Styx album I'm really familiar with at the moment, Styx II. I always thought that was a good album, and so did compiler Bruce Somerfeld apparently, since he leads this record off with three tracks from the album. The good news is, having listened to Styx II, I can tell you that more surprises await you on that album. (It's always nice when a "Best Of" record doesn't blow the best bits on a one-time money shot.) The remaining selections from Styx (their debut), Serpent and Miracles are more equitable in placement, including the minor single "Best Thing" and such indelible slices of Styx as "The Grove of Eglantine." Styx wore their inspiration on their sleeve in the beginning, sometimes mixing their musical metaphors on the same song, such as "Winner Takes All," which references Yes and The Beatles. If Styx' story had ended here, they would have been little more than a pleasant footnote in prog's history, filed somewhere between Renaissance and Triumph. Instead, they took their music to a whole new level ("of confidence and power" the crickets sing) with recordings like The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight, which has banished the first chapter of Styx to the back of the book. Too bad, since in many ways these are the magical woods of Styx: dark and light with pleasant surprises and pitfalls for the casual traveler.
daveconn | 4/5 |


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