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Styx - Crystal Ball CD (album) cover




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3.14 | 183 ratings

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4 stars Album number six, which was issued in '76 during the sixth year of Styx's professional career, 'Crystal Ball' continues the upward curve witnessed on the previous years 'Equinox', though quite what the number six has to do with this American prog-rock outfit is anybody's guess. After the crude-yet-enjoyable machinations of their ambitious, Copland-inspired debut and the refined class of follow-up Styx II, the Chicago-based outfit hit something of a duff patch before the belated single success of 'Lady' catapulted the five-piece into the national American eye. But first the duff patch; personified by two poorly-received albums, both 'The Serpent Is Rising' and 'Man Of Miracles' managed to severely over-egg the sonic pudding with far too much sub-prog-rock excess, and not enough pomp-pop colour. However, for 'Crystal Ball', the balance was re-aligned. A catchy, hard-rockin', colourful and rather adventurous set, 'Crystal Ball' finds Styx laying the groundwork for the series of excellent and career-defining albums that were to come, the likes of 'Cornerstone', 'The Grand Illusion' and 'Pieces Of Eight', whilst also proving a damn fine album itself. Tracks such as the bluesy rocker 'Shooz', the yearning, fast-paced balladry of 'Jennifer' and the seven-and-a-half-minute closer 'Clair De Lune / Ballerine' ooze hard-rock finesse, the group's synthesized rock sound bursting forth thanks to an impressive and vibrant production. Those who enjoy the classic Styx albums should find much to enjoy here then, with 'Crystal Ball' proving one of the higher peaks scaled by this hugely underrated 1970's outfit. It may not be progressive rock English style, yet in the end who gives a damn. Styx can rock out with the best of 'em, and 'Crystal Ball' is clear proof. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2013
stefro | 4/5 |


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