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Styx - Styx II CD (album) cover




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3.14 | 131 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The sophomore album by Styx proves to be a strong improvement upon the sort of proposal reflected in the band's debut effort. While the "Styx" album was groovy and entertaining, it was mostly an attempt to create something near art-rock with a large amoubnt of alien material. On the other hand, "Styx II" shows the quartet of Young, DeYoung, Curulewski and the Panozzo twins elaborating a stronger sound and setting more convincign arrangements for the compositional ideas' frameworks. The opener 'YouNeed Love' is a catchy uptempo rocker that wouldn't have been out of place in any Uriah Heep album during their golden years. The brief but electrifying organ solo executed by DeYound in the interlude is amazing, something like a Lord-meets-Emerson kind of thing. 'Lady' is the next song, loved by many and maligned by many others, I stand near the former. It is a power-ballad full of the sweetness one can expect from this kind of songs, but its logical mellow vibe doesn't sound overwhelming to my ears: one can certainly describe this 3- minute long hit song as a mixture of Elton John and Uriah Heep with subtile traces of Yes brought in the mix, plus a killer guitar lead during the last repeated chorus. It is true that DeYoung always admired Yes, ELP and Pink Floyd, and that feeling has always been reflected in many other songs written by his colleagues. In fact, the youngest one in the band, John Curulewski, brings the gem of the album's first half - 'A Day'. With its 8+ minute timespan, I believe it is the longest Styx song ever. Its main body is a slow sung section that sounds like a jazzier version of pre-Wakeman Yes: Curulewski's interventions on autoharp, 12-string guitar and ARP create pertinent sonic nuances while DeYoung uses his electric and grand piano parts to complement the basic rhythmic scheme. The instrumental interlude enhances the jazz factor and provides a major dose of energy: with a tempo that alternates 6/8 and 5/4 in the Panozzos' capable hands, the dual guitars and the Hammond organ successively state the dominant sounds. Never again you will hear Styx doing something like this, and it is really impressive as a cleverly constructed source of progressive rock. Also Curulewski-penned, 'You Better Ask' is an uptempo rocker whose lyrics sarcastically deal with the subject of venereal diseases that emerge from the practice of careless sexual fun. This song sounds like a middle point between Uriah and The Stones. The closing quote of 'Strangers In The Night' as if played on a calliope while a devilish laughter carries on completes the humorous note delivered on this song (Procol Harum also made a humorous song about this otherwise serious subject). The album's second half open up with another grand progressive gesture, only thsi time sounding like typical Styx: of course, I'm referrign to the pairing of Bach's 'Little Fugue in G' and DeYoung's 'Father O.S.A.'. The Fugue is performed on a real pipe organ, in this way announcing the solemnity that will impose itself on the following track. With its anti-clerical (not anti-Christian) lyrics, DeYoung urges us to seek and find the truth about God by ourselves instead of seeking for standard answers in the mouths of formal religious leaders. The main melody constructed on teh dual guitars and subsequent solos are enough themselves to provide convenient power for this song, but the pipe organ passages and solo piano fade-out are also functional to complete the environment. John Panozzo's drumming (plus tympani and bells) is also a major asset in this song's peculiar splendour. The heavier 'Earl Of Roseland' provides the most intelligent rocker in the album, while 'I'm Gonna Make YouFeel It' states a similar groove to that of the opener. 3.75 stars for this one... and the best from the Curulewski years was yet to come with "The Serpent Is Rising", but that is a matter for another review.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |


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