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Styx - Equinox CD (album) cover




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3.50 | 194 ratings

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4 stars I really felt the first four Styx albums for Wooden Nickel had been often a confusing mess. Should they be a prog rock band or a boogie rock band? It seems that James Young was the most inclined to hard rock, John Curulewski seemed really schizophronic (should he do prog or should he do boogie?), and Dennis DeYoung most content with ballads (although they weren't all like "Lady"). Of course, the delayed success of "Lady" from their second album gave the band notice from A&M and Equinox was the debut on the label. Right away, a big improvement over Man of Miracles. The band is now more focused. One of the first songs I remembered from my early childhood was "Light Up". I remembered this song in 1976 being played on the radio. It's probably the first song I can ever remember. It's a Dennis DeYoung number, and this song proves he can rock. It's an upbeat, celebratory number, with a nice synth solo. "Lorelei" was another rocking number from DeYoung. If think of Dennis DeYoung as "Lady" and "Babe", these two songs might make you change your mind (to be fair, Tommy Shaw, though not on this album, made some great songs like "Fooling Yourself", "Crystal Ball" and "Sing for the Day", and clunkers like "Shooz", "Superstars" and "She Cares"). "Mother Dear" is a fantastic hard rocking number with proggy overtones, with John Curulewski credited to this. DeYoung goes into ballad mode with "Lonely Child", but not in the "Lady" or "Babe" style, and definitely one of his better ballads (along with "Golden Lark" from Man of Miracles"). "Midnight Ride" and "Born for Adventure" are rocking numbers, it's little surprise that James Young would be responsible for these songs. He seemed more resistant to doing anything proggy, "Snowblind", on the not particularly progressive Paradise Theater was about as proggy as James Young went. For these different personalities, it's a miracle the band lasted as long as it did. And John Curulewski's departure after finishing this album was because he wanted to settle into family life. "Prelude" is a short, acoustic piece from Curulewski, it bears more than a passing resemblance to the acoustic guitar intro to Yes' "And You and I", which leads up to the epic "Suite Madame Blue". It seems like it's the band's own version of Kansas' "Song For America", not that it sounds the same, but that similar theme on America as it was in the 1970s. While "Come Sail Away" might be Dennis DeYoung's best known epic, "Suite Madame Blue" is without a doubt his best.

Styx is often a maligned band. FM radio overplay has a lot to do with it. Or the fact they might come across as watered down compared to the British prog rock bands of the time. Plus they were responsible (along with Foreigner, Boston, and yes, even Kansas), in no small role, the rise of AOR on FM radio. Luckily with Equinox, while a couple of the songs receive occasional FM radio play, it's nothing like the stuff they did after 1976. If you don't have an aversion to Styx, I really feel Equinox is by far their best!

Progfan97402 | 4/5 |


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