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Styx - Cornerstone CD (album) cover




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2.67 | 165 ratings

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4 stars Coming after the massive success sustained by both 'Pieces Of Eight' and 'The Grand Illusion', the ninth album from American pomp-rockers Styx proved to be the group's penultimate prog-themed release, though by now the early art-rock flourishes of previous efforts had effectively been replaced by a smoother, more commercially-driven style. However, Styx were always a multi-faceted beast, never relying on a single approach to power their music and so it proves on 'Cornerstone'. Issued in 1979, 'Cornerstone' wouldn't quite hit the same heights reached by both it's predecessors, yet the album's slick blend of driving hard-rock, smooth balladry and progressive textures did manage to garner the group another sizeable commercial success. With lead single 'Babe' topping the US charts - in the process providing Styx with their biggest ever hit single - 'Cornerstone' capped off a remarkable few years, showcasing the Chicago outfit at the very zenith of their career. However, with the 1980's on the horizon it would also spell the end of an era, the British prog-rock influences that gave their sound such a unique edge all-but-erased for 1981's follow- up 'Paradise Theatre'(which, rather ironically, proved to be a concept album). Alongside the likes of Journey, Kansas and Starcastle, Styx had pioneered the American prog-rock sound of the 1970's, a sound that cleverly featured a populist streak that saw them appea to a much wider audience than many of their contemporaries. 'Cornerstone', then, is almost a perfect example of the 'classic' Styx sound, featuring a variety of styles spread across tracks that include the up-tempo keyboard-led rocker 'Lights', the jazzy art-pop anthem 'Why Me', and surging power-prog of the excellent cautionary tale 'Eddie'. However, the album's crowning note - apart from the sugary sweet strains of 'Babe' - has to be the rip-roaring closer 'Love In The Midnight'. Featuring a gutsy rock tempo and a fantastic performance from both vocalist/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung and guitarist Tommy Shaw, 'Love In The Midnight' harks back to group's grittier early material whilst also evoking the sleek AOR strains of fellow American acts Journey and Foreigner, showcasing Styx's impressive musical dexterity. It's a highly satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable album from a group whose sound managed to over the years be both commercially accessible yet highly innovative and original. They may have their (many) detractors, yet for those with the willingness to explore should find that there is much more to Styx than initially meets the ear. Although less progressive than the likes of 'Styx II' or 'Pieces Of Eight', 'Cornerstone' is still a fine album that should definitely impress those who enjoy the exploits of 1970's era Kansas and Journey. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
stefro | 4/5 |


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