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Styx Cornerstone  album cover
2.62 | 124 ratings | 23 reviews | 7% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1979

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Lights (4:38)
2. Why Me (3:54)
3. Babe (4:25)
4. Never Say Never (3:08)
5. Boat on the River (3:10)
6. Borrowed Time (4:58)
7. First Time (4:24)
8. Eddie (4:15)
9. Love in the Midnight (5:25)

Total Time: 38:17


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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Dennis DeYoung / keyboards, vocals
- Tommy Shaw / guitar (acoustic), guitar, mandolin, autoharp, guitar (electric), vocals
- James Young / synthesizer, guitar, autoharp, vocals
- Steve Eisen / saxophone
- Chuck Panozzo / bass, guitar (bass), vocals
- John Panozzo / percussion, drums, vocals

Releases information

LP A&M 3711

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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STYX MP3, Free Download (music stream)

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Buy STYX Cornerstone Music

Styx - Greatest HitsStyx - Greatest Hits
A&M 1995
Audio CD$5.97
$0.95 (used)
Grand IllusionGrand Illusion
A&M 1990
Audio CD$1.65
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Paradise TheatreParadise Theatre
A&M 1990
Audio CD$1.33
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Pieces of EightPieces of Eight
A&M 1990
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$0.99 (used)
Crystal BallCrystal Ball
A&M 1990
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Kilroy Was HereKilroy Was Here
A&M 1990
Audio CD$1.77
$1.47 (used)
Styx GoldStyx Gold
A&M Records 2004
Audio CD$8.75
$5.04 (used)
A&M 1990
Audio CD$1.77
$1.38 (used)
A&M 1990
Audio CD$1.77
$1.53 (used)
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STYX Cornerstone ratings distribution

(124 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(7%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(23%)
Good, but non-essential (37%)
Collectors/fans only (22%)
Poor. Only for completionists (11%)

STYX Cornerstone reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars Simply catasrophic and Babe makes it sink even deeper than the Mariana Trench. Avoid it , it StynX. I think that the success of babe might even have created tensions inside the band because De Young will take artistic control of the next two stinkers Paradise & Killroy and he will geow an even bigger ego than Emerson , Lake , Wakeman all together.


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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#17392) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Review by daveconn
3 stars Not a cornerstone of the band's work, lest the house of Styx come tumbling down. Yes, it does contain "Babe," a ballad inextricable from '80s amber, and "Lights," which carries the theme of stardom as ably as any Styx song. Taken in toto, though, Cornerstone is mostly average arena pop, no better or worse than the post-pinnacle music of Kansas and Boston. Some effort has been made over the years to pull more from Cornerstone: the acoustic "Boat On The River" (which sounds a lot like Uriah Heep's "Gypsy") or the fustian "Borrowed Time" for example. And the album did sell two million copies in the US, which speaks more to the band's popularity than the merit of Cornerstone. As happened in Kansas, Styx was beginning to become a vehicle for its songwriters rather than a unified outfit. Dennis De Young's ballads ("Babe," "First Time") compromised a rock credibility that Tommy Shaw worked hard to establish, and James Young rocked even harder than Shaw. As a result, Cornerstone shifts too much to trust, from Boston to Supertramp to Queen. It's still classic-period Styx, should such a thing exist, but accounts for relatively little of the band's classic material. That said, I've only listened to this record a half-dozen times, my saturation point for this sort of thing being lower than most. It's not hard to imagine that repeated listenings could forge some fealty to songs like "Love In The Midnight" and "Never Say Never," or maybe the whole album altogether. Cornerstone isn't my cup of tea, or the Styx I'd stir my tea with, but then again the mere mention of arena rock usually makes my face scrunch up. If you're a fan of Styx or Kansas or Boston, you may want to sweeten my sour disposition to suit your own tastes.


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Send comments to daveconn (BETA) | Report this review (#47598) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One of the band's good albums with radio pop hit that swept the music industry at end of seventies / early eighties "Babe". I remember vividly how all radio stations played this hit many times during that period. As far as pop ballad, this is a well crafted music with atmospheric keyboard and transparent and powerful vocal. When I had an illegal rock station radio I regularly played "Love IN The Midnight" (last track). I love this track because it has great composition: nice opening (powerful vocal accompanied by acoustic guitar fills) followed with upbeat rock music with tight accentuation. For hard rock lovers this song might be a favorite one because it really rocks! The other good quality of this song is on vocal harmony between Tomy Shaw and Dennis De Young backed by the rest of the band members. Another good track to enjoy is the country-influenced song titled "Boat on The River". It serves like a ballad with a good melody.

As I always mentioned on my previous reviews about the band, I never consider the band as prog band. I know that its debut had some proggy segments but that's it. The albums onward for me is like a hard rock bands like Uriah Heep, Deep Purple, etc. Overall, this is a good album but not essential. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW


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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#75828) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 22, 2006

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This album is not bad because of a certain single called ' Babe'. This song, which was highly successful for Styx, is a little love ditty, one which most swooners and crooners at the time forgave the group as the song was a vehicle to a slow dance or a back seat romp. The problem with Cornerstone is that the album as a whole was basically poor and became overall very poppy. That does not make it necessarily bad ( after all ELO were spewing forth Xanadu type music), just mediocrity everywhere. Completionists will love it.Two stars at best.


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Send comments to Chris S (BETA) | Report this review (#106804) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Babe I'm gonna write you lots of mushy ballads

Released in 1979, "Cornerstone" comes from Styx's stadium rock and AOR period, long after their flirtation with prog. Here there are nine single length tracks, most of which are indeed potential singles.

The album contains two of the band's best known and most popular songs, "Babe" and "Boat on the river". "Babe" is undoubtedly a mushy, tear jerking ballad which was single-handedly responsible for Dennis De Young's further attempts to take the band down the pop ballad route. It is though, in pop terms, a fine composition which fully warrants its position even today as a pop classic. "Boat on the river" has the feel of a gypsy campfire type sing along. Tommy Shaw's mandolin playing and some accordion type sounds contributing to the unusually folk atmosphere. The strong melody and fine harmonics help to make this song the highlight of the album.

Those tracks aside, the rest are competently written and performed, but largely undistinguished. Track such as "Lights" (not the Journey song of the same name) and "Never say never" are up-tempo toe-tappers but there is little real substance to them. "Borrowed time" is the hardest (heaviest) track on the album, the rather cynical lyrics concluding that we are all "living on borrowed time".

"First time" is another De Young smoocher, which fails to strike the chord of "Babe", but features a decent vocal performance by the writer and a fine lead guitar solo. With "Eddie", it sounds like a KISS track has mistakenly slipped onto the album unnoticed. The closest we get to a prog track is saved for last, "Love in the midnight" having a slightly offbeat sound with good keyboard and guitar sections. The choral backing vocals also offer a more adventurous dimension.

"Cornerstone" will never be hailed as a groundbreaking album, or admired for its originality. What it does have is a succession of well written and well performed pop rock songs. If such music lights your fire, then this album is for you.


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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#124433) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 03, 2007

Review by 1800iareyay
1 stars At the end of the 70s, Styx was becoming one of the biggest names around. The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight were hits, and the pressure was on to deliver another smash. They released Cornerstone, which became another hit with the masses. This is evidence that excessive abuse of cocaine can cause hallucinations. That's the only logical answer as to why this was loved. After the rockier feel of Pieces of Eight, Styx dove headfirst into the pop scene. Well, they must have hit the bottom and cracked something, cause this is awful.

The album is famous for it's power ballad Babe, which Dennis DeYoung wrote for his wife. Poor woman; I always find myself blaming her. Styx were no strangers to cheesy ballads, but this has to be one of the worst money generating odes ever penned. However, this seems like gold when First Time comes along. It's not often you see a band try to copy the success of one of their songs on the same album. It tries to be like Babe (which is already setting the bar low) and fails miserably. Why Me only left an impression because that's what I kept asking myself the whole time I was listening to this album. Boat on the River stunned me by being a fairly decent song. I liked the mandolin part and the whole thing had a great mood. I could scarcely believe my ears. The rest of the songs on the album are dull, from the so-glossy-I-can-practically-see-it Lights to the faux-deep Borrowed Time.

I first heard this because my mom, a Styx fan, gave me a copy and said I would love it. For the next three months I was thoroughly convinced my mother hated me. The album was indeed a cornerstone upon which the band built a career out of banality and derivative pop music that managed to shift units despite a noticeable lack of quality. It would be years before the rockier aspect of the band returned, and by then it was too late. While Styx's last two albums were enjoyable, this is atrocious. After I finally made it through this disc I began to fantasize about what I'd rather do than ever hear it again. I would rather have my legs eaten by a shark, then cut open its stomach and eat my own half-digested feet than ever listen to this album again. I'm amazed the producers didn't laminate the vinyls so they looked glossy. I'm all for good production, but it's obvious when a band uses studio techniques to make a bad album actually worse.

To paraphrase fellow reviewer Chris Stacey, This album isn't bad because of "Babe." It's bad because it sucks.

Grade: F


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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#150253) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 11, 2007

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars While the connection of STYX with true progressive rock scene will always remain more than questionable, I must admit that I liked this music when I was a kid. However, I had bought this album exclusively because it contained "Boat on The River" ballad. It was extremely popular at the time and was a sort of teenage hymn for young hippies and progsters. In fact, the whole album suffers from being a totally commercial sugar-pop. Another big hit "Babe" is a terrible AOR, in this case literally meaning "adult-oriented", because only our grandmas and grandpas could probably listen to this. Another song I liked was "Borrowed Time", and the rest remains poor and negligable.


P.A. RATING: 1/5


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Send comments to Seyo (BETA) | Report this review (#150287) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 12, 2007

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars 'What's a nice song like you doing in a place like this?'

Cornerstone is one of Styx' weakest albums. Surprisingly, it contains one of their best songs in the folky Boat On The River. While Pieces Of Eight went too far towards straightforward Arena rock, Cornerstone goes too far towards syrupy ballads. The next album, Paradise Theater, could be seen as an attempt to strike a decent balance between the two directions.

But the heavy emphasis on ballads and the near-absence of Hard Rock is not the only problem that plagues Cornerstone. The biggest problem is the uninspired song writing. There is almost nothing memorable on the whole album. And then there is Babe. Perhaps not the worst song the band ever made, but it is not far from it!

Boat On The River is a great song, however. This acoustic number with an excellent mandolin solo is really a surprise and a very unusual song in the Styx catalogue. I read somewhere that this song became the band's biggest European hit. I can understand why. But one good song in an ocean of uninspired music is not enough to push this up to two stars. Besides, this song is available elsewhere. The closing song is also fully listenable, but this also is not enough to save this album from being an overall poor effort.

One (and a half) star.


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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#227650) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 20, 2009

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars First I listened this LP somewhere in 1980, still being in high school. And it was my first Styx album. So - very mixed feeling.

First of all, I was hypnotised by "Boat On The River " ( and I love this ballad till now!). "Babe" was a strange song even then - something what shouldn't be presented in any rock album.

So, I listened this album day after day, and perfectly new all songs included ( not now, for sure). And even from years I remember that feeling - I loved some songs and hated others, but it never was THE ALBUM for me. I really waited for next release just to understand, do I like Styx or not.( And after the next album I just missed any interest for that band for the years).

So, after so many years, I still can say, that it's a strange album - "Boat on The River " is really on of Styx' greatest song ever, and "Babe" is one of the weakest. "Never Say Never" is very american pop-rock, other songs are somewhere belove the average standard.

It looks, that album should be placed somewhere between "nothing good at all" category with just one great song. But returning back to this music again and again, I feel some kind of light attraction - nice voice, often melodic songs, quite technical arrangements. To be honest, that album has it's own magnetism ( having almost nothing of good musical material).

So, something between 2 and 3, but more 2 for prog-rock site.


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Send comments to snobb (BETA) | Report this review (#242950) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, October 04, 2009

Review by b_olariu
2 stars Styx with this album from 1979 named Cornerstone show an obvious decline , in musical arrangements, the band here sounds more mainstream then before, with radio hits. Another gold album in sales terms, with Babe as a major hit for them, I never understand why this piece is considered one of their best, still played on concerts today, is a simple tune under 4 min, a ballad with not much to show, but in the end they realy done it again, being the first Styx hit who enters in british charts. Theys till manage to keep fans together while this Cornerstone is clear a let down from previous albums. The progressive elements, even were not many in past labums, on this release are almost zero if not zero. Friendly AOR, ok plesent performed, but to easy listne, almost every tracxk is under 5 min, showig that they wanted more and more to capture the masses in any way. To me this album is weaker even then the next one Paradise theatre. 2-2.5 for Lights or last two pieces, the rest are almost forgettable in any way, I think the weakest Styx album in their early career.


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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#308548) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 06, 2010

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars What's not to like?

Sadly "Cornerstone" turned some people off of Styx which is really a shame. Sad, because it remains a fine slab of art-pop/rock and features some of the band's most diverse offerings. It also exposed some fissures in the Styxian terra which were unnecessary because there really was no musical crisis here. While DeYoung's desire to branch out a bit into romantic territories somehow threatened the testosterone section of the group, the album remains filled with the Styx spirit. I have the sense that Dennis was still stoked with positive energy, and had Tommy and James not thrown their hissy (and temporarily fired him) some of the coming decline caused by animosity could have been avoided. Tommy and JY wanted to compete more with their hard rock heroes but this was always a flawed strategy. In my high school and I'm sure others, Styx was never competing with the hard rock/metal kids anyway, but with the middle ground who were not afraid to love Boston, Foreigner, or Journey. And there were just as many of them as there were Angus and Nugent fans. The self-inflicted handwringing was taken too far, as their own sound was just as valid, and 30 years on it means more to me than anything from the Motor City Madman. Even if Styx had truly exiled or neutered Dennis, the really hard-rock lovin' kids were never going to accept a Shaw/Young band as something equal to Zeppelin, Rush, Nugent, or Sabbath. And frankly, without Dennis, those albums would never have been half as good as they were.

It's been many decades since I first listened to Styx and really hadn't listened to them much since the 80s, as my interests in other music took off. Lately I have been going through grief and tumultuous times by any standard, temporarily losing the need for anything dark or difficult from music. I chose to revisit this old band from the Midwest and discovered the core body of work far more impressive than history credits them for. The fans knew however, as this was the 3rd of 4 triple-platinum albums in a row. But to this day the band remains largely maligned by the rock press, proggers, administrative assistants, and barkeeps. All so unnecessary. It was good clean fun, great energetic melodic rock, and it remains so. Yeah, even Cornerstone.

More succinct, with more acoustic guitar and Rhodes keys the sound is more velvety, seemingly more "pop" and yet there is much more going on here. "Lights" is such an uplifting opener, Shaw singing passionately about the energy he gets from live performance. The harmonies are fantastic and it's almost impossible for me not to sing along (which is a frightening premise, I understand). Colorful instrumental overdubs are all over the place adding much life to these tracks so often dismissed. "Why Me" starts very Dennis-like quirky but goes into a nice sax/electric guitar trade, the lyrics somehow seeming a contrasting revisit to his "I'm Okay" optimism. Then came the song that elicited so many silly howls of protest, the big hit single "Babe." My oh my, the uproar! Apparently masculinities were threatened for the cool set. You'd think Roger Waters had left Pink Floyd and they continued without him or something. In truth it's really just a nice love song which along with "First Time" was Dennis indulging his McCartney appreciation. The song is a wonderful update of "Lady" in some ways. The chord progression is just killer in the chorus, that dip in there which introduces a bit of dark blue to the valentine, it's such good songwriting. Then he lets in Tommy with that well composed melodic solo. It's not supposed to be Hendrix, guys. Yet the whole album gets urine sprayed by legions of people. Shaw does slip up once with "Never Say Never" which gives hints of the mediocrity he was capable of, but he quickly redeems himself with "Boat on the River," a Styx fan favorite which also scored as a single with European audiences. A nice departure, it closes side 1 with a folk-tinged mandolin piece, filled with yearning vocals, accordion, and traditional bass. Interestingly, some in their management did not want Boat on the album, and it was DeYoung who chest-thumped on Tommy's behalf and said Shaw's track would appear or else. Teamwork. Styx was so good when they worked together.

"Borrowed Time" is a great lead-off for side two, pure classic Styx working as a band still. The energy level is very high here and I swear you can hear a little influence of Glam running through it. It's one of their best songs bar none. It was not "Babe" so much as "First Time" that really irked Tommy and JY, Tommy would call the song "moving in on Barry Manilow territory." While it was overreach on Dennis' part and got him fired briefly, the fact remains that it was but one song on an album with nine tracks. Hardly worth the mouthfoaming it brought on, though Dennis should have known better as the song is really weak. It would have been far more fruitful for the band to continue working together than divide into camps as they did. JY's "Eddie" provides the most hard rock on this album as he throws in some driving guitar-synthesizer lines. Tommy closes the album with a dark and heavy confessional called "Love in the Midnight." Shaw was the bad boy in Styx amongst mostly family men. His musical frustrations were manifesting in cocaine and ladies to a larger degree and here he discusses his "ravenous" late night self. It features some nice proggy instrumental dressings but mostly it is the vocal that sells it. I can see Tommy singing this one and whenever that vein pops WAY out on his neck, you know a good vocal is coming. Great closer. I'm floored when people continue to say this album is full of soft ballads. What album are they listening to? About two of the nine tracks fit that description, but much of this album rocks, exudes good energy, or is just plain diverse, ala the folk-vibe of Boat.

So if you enjoy Styx but always avoided "Cornerstone" because of its reputation, do give it a chance. Seven of the nine tracks are very worthwhile for Styxians and about half are truly superb. While the party was almost over, Styx would have one more trick up its sleeve, the grandiose and symbolic farewell "Paradise Theater." 3 ½ stars rounding up for me.


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Send comments to Finnforest (BETA) | Report this review (#453678) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review by Chicapah
2 stars By the time Styx released "Cornerstone" in the fall of '79 their popularity was soaring while their prog-relatedness was plunging. This was good news for their label and for the members' bank accounts but a disappointing development for proggers who still held out hope for the USA producing a group that could rival the prog rock juggernauts of the world. Kansas was still a respectable and worthy representative of the cause but more and more they were proving to be the exception rather than the rule. Up and coming bands weren't attempting to follow in that brave band's footsteps and, as the glorious 70s came to a close, the overwhelming trend was toward new wave pop and away from challenging or exploratory music. Even the few groups that had dared to put even the most miniscule of prog elements into their sound were succumbing to the lure of manufacturing the all-important Top 40 hit single and abandoning their spirit of adventure. The guys in Styx are the poster boys of that inclination.

One aspect really sticks out to me about this record. When Tommy Shaw joined the band four years earlier he brought a more accessible writing style with him and it culminated in '78 as three of his songs from "Pieces of Eight" got promoted into heavy rotation on radio stations and sent sales of that album through the roof. Long time head honcho Dennis DeYoung understandably felt he was no longer the sole star of the show and decided that on "Cornerstone" he needed to stage a comeback of sorts by contributing more tunes this time around. Since his faux prog material no longer thrilled the masses as it once had he opted to take the "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em" approach and tried to compose stuff that resembled what he heard on the airwaves. That tactic, while it appears to be quite logical and failsafe, is the kiss of death for a songwriter's reputation and has the adverse effect of changing a group's image from being instigators to followers. Styx took no risky chances on "Cornerstone" and that's why it should hold very little interest for the residents of Progland.

"Lights" (the result of an alliance between DeYoung and Shaw) allows the album to make a somewhat grandiose entrance and, for a fleeting moment, the progman in me felt encouraged. The tune has operatic overtones on the verses and the choruses are strong due to the layered harmonies but the middle instrumental section is a letdown. It's rather trite compared to say, Genesis, but calculated to pose no threat to the ears of the average Joe. DeYoung's "Why Me" is next and it exemplifies the point I made in the previous paragraph. Supertramp was at their peak in the late 70s so Dennis simply emulated their style. The bouncy electric piano is a blatant rip-off and they even brought in a saxophonist to duel with the guitar on the bridge to complete the imitation. There's no crime in giving a nod to one's successful competitors but when the result is an inferior product that lacks the focus and class that makes that particular band unique it's downright embarrassing. The dubious "Babe" follows. In that era there were outfits like The Little River Band, Ambrosia and Pablo Cruise that were scaling the charts with slick soft rock ballads right and left. DeYoung wanted in on that action, obviously, so he penned this schmaltzy piece of fluff. This is so far from prog it might as well be a cut from the Bay City Rollers but it also achieved its main objective by becoming Styx's first #1 single so who am I to judge? (A prog reviewer, that's who!) All I know is that it completed the alteration of their persona from being imaginative renegades who bucked the odds to sellouts willing to betray their ideals for the sake of having a hit record.

Shaw's "Never Say Never" is an energetic, acoustic guitar and power chord-driven rocker that only impresses when compared to the nauseating "Babe." At least the number's steadily-building bridge has a smidgen of prog aromas wafting through the vocal arrangement. Tommy's "Bridge on the River" marks the apex of the album. Its prog folk feel is refreshing and I really like the light accordion and mandolin that decorate the track. They add amiable ambience to what otherwise might've been yet another unremarkable song. As a single it did nothing in the states but it was huge in Germany and Switzerland, giving the group some much-needed cred in Europe. "Borrowed Time" is another DeYoung/Shaw collaboration wherein a glittery intro sets the stage for a driving rock extravaganza but drummer John Panozzo's weak touch on the skins detracts from the potential impact the tune could've had. Despite their well-intended efforts, the tune is missing that definitive "wow" moment to make it special. "First Time" is another lame ballad from Dennis that only serves to reiterate the band's dilemma over what they wanted to be and Tommy's strikingly out-of-place raucous guitar solo shines a bright floodlight on the problem. Guitarist James Young fell into the same trap as DeYoung did, evidently, because his "Eddie" comes off like Rush having their worst day ever. To say it pales in comparison to that trio's work is a gross understatement and it goes even farther south with the inclusion of a cheap synth ride. The stringent guitar lead provides the only respite from the song's inherent mediocrity. Shaw's "Love in the Midnight" is the closer. The fat 12-string acoustic guitars give it decent depth and the tune at least displays a modicum of gumption on his part. Don't get me wrong, it's no prog gem, but it's better than most of the rest of the disc.

I don't consider this to be a very good record. There's no accounting for taste, though, and "Cornerstone" rose to #2 on the LP charts. But it wasn't because it was progressive, of that I can assure you. I read that after Styx got lambasted mercilessly by music critics in the UK while they were on their first-ever tour over there Dennis deemed their days as a prog band officially over. In other words, their pseudo progressive posturing didn't fool anybody in the country where prog rock was born and they retreated back across the pond with their tails tucked between their legs. I have no doubt that being a pop rock entity who could put on a flashy show looked warmly inviting and much more lucrative at that point and they never looked back. With this album Styx turned in their prog badges and set their sights on strolling the red carpet at the Grammys beside the pop elite with regularity. Another one bit the dust. 1.5 stars.


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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#633984) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Review by stefro
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


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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#853619) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2012

Review by Rune2000
3 stars I don't see why anyone would call this album Cornerstone... to me it sounds more like just another brick in the wall!

After returning from their England tour, Styx became aware of the critique that their sound had received in the English rock press. This made them consider shifting their sound even closer to the soft rock format of the late '70s. This was of course a huge mistake since it alienated some of their art rock fans and instead introduced casual fans to Babe. It's generally not a good idea to listen to critique coming from the British press of the late '70s since UK was completely dominated by the punk sound of it time which shunned everything that was even merely art rock and/or prog related.

Styx were still able to deliver quite a few really nice tracks like the album opening Lights, Why Me and First Time. Still, to me this is another album where Tommy Shaw managed to beat Dennis DeYoung on the songwriting front by delivering this album's two biggest highlights with Boat On The River and the album closing Love In The Midnight. I might not be a big fan of his third sole songwriting credit, Never Say Never, but at least it's nowhere nearly as atrocious as the James Young-penned Eddie! The song pleads Ted Kennedy not to run for the office, but it ultimately sounds like complete bogus to my ears with terrible lyrics like - Eddie, now don't you run/You know you're a bootlegger's son/And you saw just what it's done to the others/Eddie, now don't you run/It's the end of all your fun/And you saw just what they've done to your brothers!

Having said that, I still find Cornerstone mildly amusing. It might not be anywhere near as memorable as the two preceding releases but there are just enough solid tracks to give it the average rating that it ultimately deserves.

***** star songs: Boat On The River (3:10)

**** star songs: Lights (4:38) Why Me (3:54) Babe (4:25) First Time (4:24) Love In The Midnight (5:25)

*** star songs: Never Say Never (3:08) Borrowed Time (4:58)

** star songs: Eddie (4:15)


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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#948760) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Latest members reviews

2 stars And so the decline was finally blatant and evident. The decline of Styx began to show up a little in the previous album, PIECES OF EIGHT, but on CORNERSTONE the roof finally caved in for good. Only "Boat on the River" keeps this from being a complete dud. The rest is either weak "Never Say Nev ... (read more)

Report this review (#299123) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars "Cornerstone" from Styx represent to me the begin of an descendant curve of the quality their sound, however in yours next albun "Paradise Theather" the level of this quality shows a certain recovery. "Cornerstone" is more comercial that any one of his previous albuns and presents scarcely mom ... (read more)

Report this review (#281031) | Posted by maryes | Saturday, May 08, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is Styx-lite, and does it stynx? yes. it's most terrible! There's sappy love ballads with big 'ooh ooh love you' lyrics and sickly-sweet, cheesy vocals. And the other songs aren't much better. It begins with 'Lights'. As soon as this song comes on, it sounds like Styx-lite, like Styx, th ... (read more)

Report this review (#280886) | Posted by Brendan | Friday, May 07, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Cornerstone is a masterpiece of 1979 and Styx use of some new sounds of this time and proved they could do creative work without raging guitars. The Rhodes electric piano was used in most of the tracks and they almost entirely dismissed the hard rockin' guitars and organ/synthesizers that had ... (read more)

Report this review (#64863) | Posted by | Sunday, January 15, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album was for me a complete disillusion after "Pieces of Eight" Although it contains maybe Styx biggest hit "Babe", the album overall it not strong. Too much radio-friendly tracks, too soft, and not the sharp edge, of the mystifying air of the previous albums. It really took me some time, ... (read more)

Report this review (#49955) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 04, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album could also be called "Dennis' Revenge"--a poppy reaction to the hard rock , Tommy Shaw-domainant predecessor Pieces of Eight. This album has striking diversity, but almost completely lacks the hard rocking down-and-dirty soul of Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young. If you ignore the ballad ... (read more)

Report this review (#46958) | Posted by | Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This is the low point in the up and down world of Styx music. Coming off a smokin' rock album (Pieces of Eight), dove headlong into the bland corporate pop world head first. The band here is hardly recognizable as Styx! There are a few nice tunes here, but something happened between albums tha ... (read more)

Report this review (#38010) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 29, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is by far one of the best rock albums of its time. Styx was tight on the album, and the mix of guitar and saxaphoine played well. ALL the guys played great on this album!! I still play the CD often, and remember back to 1979 and how great the album was then, and how great it is now. Watch ... (read more)

Report this review (#17394) | Posted by | Thursday, February 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars While many folks would pan this album due to the soft ballads "Babe" and "First Time," this remains one of the finest efforts that Styx put together. Not only do they score big with the ballads (and score they do, despite the backlash years later), but they also catch the attention with interesting ... (read more)

Report this review (#17391) | Posted by | Friday, December 26, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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