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Styx - Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra Of Cleveland: One With Everything CD (album) cover




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3.74 | 15 ratings

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4 stars A few years ago, when I got a STYX CD or DVD, I refused to comment it with my friends being that this excellent band is seen with some kind of despise by the purist progheads being that their fame of AOR and their horrendous performance in "Kilroy Was Here" will always follow them, but after a couple decades I learned to care more about my personal taste than about opinions and honestly, they sure can rock when they want.

Last week during one of my usual DVD safaris, found "One with Everything - STYX with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland" about which I had read a couple of reviews and bought it immediately, a decision I can't regret because it's one of their best presentations during their long career.

STYX presents a partially new lineup with the already legendary Tommy Shaw, James "JY" Young plus Chuck Panozzo (in the last two tracks), the already veteran of 5 years Todd Sucherman on the drums, the capable Ricky Phillips playing the bass during almost all the show and the new star Lawrence Gowan, who despite some unnecessary pyrotechnics that only work for guys of the stature of Keith Emerson, does an amazing job in the keyboard and occasionally lead vocals.

But lets be honest, the musicians that make of this DVD something really special are the members of the "Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland", a 171 piece Symphony Orchestra and Choir formed by 13 to 19 years old students, perfectly conducted by Liza Grossman who show incredible skills and enough versatility to join a veteran Rock band.

The songs selected by the band are well known except two new tracks that really don't impress me, but don't expect to find "Come Sail Away" or "Babe" (Thanks God for that) being that they try not to perform themes credited to "Dennis de Young" (A couple of fragments are played in a Medley) to avoid paying royalties due to a very long and conflictive trial that authorized Panozzo, Young and Shaw to keep the name of STYX after replacing Dennis.

As in most live albums it's unnecessary to talk about each and every song being that most are well known and reviewed extensively in the studio albums, so I will only mention the best moments I could find.

The concert starts with the full Orchestra playing a beautiful overture for "Blue Collar Man - Long Nights" but they don't stay with the overture, the young orchestra keeps enhancing all the track, blending perfectly with the band.

"Lorelei" is the first track in which we see a different JY (looks like a different person) taking the lead vocals and we notice that his voice remains the same (well, he never was a Carusso but sure can rock).

Again before Miss America we can listen an incredible Overture by the "Contemporary Youth Orchestra" who also make a perfect blending with the band specially adding strength to the chorus that was always one of the strongest points of STYX but which has lost a bit without Dennis and Chuck, amazing version.

Of course there is no concert of STYX without "Boat on the River", another highlight of the band where Tommy uses an electric mandolin that sounds incredibly well, despite the good performance of STYX and the string section, the rest of the orchestra members make a cheesy choreography acting as if they were rowing boats, well not as cheesy as the kids dancing with Roundabout in the Yes Symphonic DVD.

Larence Gowan takes the lead vocals in a "I don't Need no Doctor" making a good performance on a simple but an unimpressive track, honestly he is sounding much better than Dennis did in his last performance with STYX.

One of the best moments is the "The STYX CYO Medley" in which they make a tribute to famous Dennis de Young tracks that they didn't wanted to play in full versions for the reasons commented above, the best ones are IMO "Sing for the Day" and the incredible "Lights", a track that I never understood why was left behind in their life presentations.

Immediately after starts a new overture now for two cellos (According to the credits at the end of the DVD this two kids are David Ellis and Eric Tannenbaum who make a magnificent performance) and then full orchestra, not to introduce a new track but one of the most emotional moments of the night, Ricky Phillips is replaced by Chuck Panozzo in the bass (is good to see Chucky fully recovered after how bad he looked in "Return to Paradise") to perform one of Tommy Shaw's best compositions "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" again with full orchestra.

The concert ends with another excellent version, this time of "Renegade" where the band and chorus make a beautiful job, it's evident that Liza Grossman has done a great job preparing his kids, they almost stole the show and interacted perfectly with the band members who in some moments looked amazed by their skills.

I almost never rate a Prog Related band album with 5 stars because by definition it can't be essential for a Progressive Rock collection and this time I won't make an exception and will go with 4 stars but wishing there was a 4.5 option because this DVD doesn't deserve less.

So leave away your prejudices and enjoy great moments with a Rock band that is not 100% Prog but they sure know how to play and as the good wine STYX seems to better with the pass of the years.

Ivan_Melgar_M | 4/5 |


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