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Styx - Styx II CD (album) cover




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3.14 | 131 ratings

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4 stars One of those early wonders like Fly By Night that bespeaks great things for the future. Of course it contains "Lady" in all of its familiar raiment, and the song is crystallized perfection, but just as likely to strike a chord with prog fans are "You Need Love," "Earl of Roseland" and the combination of "Little Fugue" and "Father O.S.A." Styx didn't remove the rock & roll swagger from their muse, and a "You Better Ask" or "I'm Gonna Make You Feel It" are hardly progressive insights, but not everyone can be as consistently high-minded as Yes or Genesis. If "Lady" has left this good company unescorted into the future, then take a little trip back. You'll discover a band that made good use of harmonies, could write elastic arrangements with the best of them, and understood prog's archetypes. John Curulewski's "You Better Ask," is the exception, a funky rock number that underscores the need for "safe" sex. It does end with a nod to "Strangers In The Night," which reminds me of a musical joke circulating at the time that had a ribald little story sung to the melody of "Strangers..." (but enough about that). Curulewski's "A Day" is closer to the dreamy vibe of prog, though it has more in common with CSN ("Almost Cut My Hair") than prog proper. Though Dennis DeYoung would favor ballads like "Lady" in the long run, here he writes a lot of heavy material, perhaps as a concession to the fact that Styx' vision was aligned to the hard, heavy right of Dennis' softer, lefter leanings. As with Kerry Livgren and Kansas, DeYoung and Styx can lead with keyboards or guitars, which allows them to pursue hard and soft prog passages. Sometimes, Styx slips into hard rock phrasings (as did Kansas), but in doing so they helped forge a new style of prog that would be adopted by bands like Boston and proved more palatable to American ears. I'd recommend this album even if it didn't harbor a certain "Lady," and suspect that Styx II is the one to own among the band's early elpees.
daveconn | 4/5 |


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