Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Prog Related

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Styx Styx album cover
2.81 | 151 ratings | 22 reviews | 5% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

Buy STYX Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 1972

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Movement for the Common Man (13:11) :
- a) Children of the Land
- b) Street Collage
- c) Fanfare for the Common Man
- d) Mother Nature's Matinee
2. Right Away (3:40)
3. What Has Come Between Us (4:53)
4. Best Thing (3:13)
5. Quick Is the Beat of My Heart (4:49)
6. After You Leave Me (4:00)

Total Time 33:46

Line-up / Musicians

- James Young / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
- John Curulewski / guitar, synth, vocals
- Dennis DeYoung / organ, synthesizer, piano, vocals
- Chuck Panozzo / bass
- John Panozzo / percussion, drums

Releases information

Artwork: Acy Lehman with Murray Laden (photo)

LP Wooden Nickel Records ‎- WNS-1008 (1972, US)

CD One Way Records ‎- OW 35130 (1998, US) New cover art

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy STYX Styx Music

STYX Styx ratings distribution

(151 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(5%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(19%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (20%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

STYX Styx reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars They did their own Common Man Fanfare so bad that Emerson decided to do it justice. I still have a little sympathy for this one as they were obviously ambitious but very inexperienced, and made a sloppy debut but somehow held some promise . It would take the fifth album to see that promise fullfilled but as a FM band but not a prog one , although they will always keep some slight overtones.
Review by loserboy
3 stars Early STYX were a very different band than their later incarnation (aka "Grand Illusion", "Crystal Ball", "Equinox") although I suppose the heart of the band were there. STYX's first album is far more exploratory and 70's'ish in feeling with heavy organ and synth work with some nice and heavy guitar soloing. Vocals are shared between Dennis DeYoung, James Young and John Curulewski and although resonate with the classic STYX feel at times really carry a more raw feel to them (especially so with Curulewski). Standout track for me is the 13 mins epic track "Movement For The Common Man" which monopolizes side 1 of the album and showcases a very different sounding band. Progheads will likely love this tune (as I do). The other really cool feature on this album is the 70's electronics and synths used which sound awesome with the heavier backdrops. Although I also adore the classic STYX era albums it is their debut album that has endured with my innate progressive affiliations.
Review by daveconn
2 stars Before The Grand Illusion, there was the grandiloquent confusion of "Movement For The Common Man," which throws at the listener in order of succession: hard rock, a tinkertoy drum solo, spoken dialogue from the streets of Chicago, an excerpt of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For The Common Man" and, finally, a dreamy prog ballad ("Mother Nature's Son") in the hopes that something will stick. I agree that it's a movement, but I wouldn't stick around to find out what kind. Beyond that, Styx' debut isn't bad at all, playing rock with obvious proggy overtones, as Dennis DeYoung dips into the well of the current vanguard (Genesis, Jethro Tull, ELP) and adds filigree to what might otherwise be filler. Strangely, their first album doesn't contain a lot of band-written material. Whether tracks like "Right Away" and "After You Leave Me" were holdovers from earlier incarnations of the band or not is unclear, but Styx does a good job of stamping them with their own personality (strong harmonies, prog sensibility and swagger). While nothing on here has the enduring power of a "Lady," Styx (the album) is no less fruitful that Rush's first album. "Best Thing" is handily the best thing on here, "What Has Come Between Us" another winner (fyi, both were chosen for Wooden Nickel's Best of Styx). Does it all bode well for the future of Styx? Well, no, they sound like the second coming of Uriah Heep here (and I'm not sure anyone invited the first Heep). In the cabinet marked eponymous prog debuts, Yes and ELP got out of the gate quickly, Rush opted to travel by way of zeppelin and Styx occasionally stalls as it learns to shift between prog and rock.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The nucleus of STYX goes back to 1964 and a South Side neighborhood band called TW4. The years have brought two new guitars and a direction by five multi-talented artists whose energy is a tribute to the beauty of the Chicago rock 'n' roll community. [CD sleeve opening remarks].

As far as prog concern, this debut album by Styx can be considered as prog as some compositions have the music that characterized prog e.g. tempo and / or style changes. The opening track that serves like an epic with four parts has all the ingredients of what prog band usually offer. One part "Fanfare for The Common Man" (Aaron Copland) is a famous part where Emerson Lake and Palmer (ELP) also played. "Movement For The Common Man" even though sounds like disjointed between parts it still offer a good style of music that most proggers might enjoy. Another song that has become one of my favorite Styx songs is "What Has Come Between Us" - it offers great vocal harmony and excellent melody. One of the band's key strengths is their choir comprising members of the band's voice.

Overall, this album gives you a cohesive stream of Styx music that later became well- known with its unique style. At first glance, you might hear the influence of Uriah Heep especially on guitar parts that resemble what Mick Box typically plays. But Styx has its own brand name that sets apart from any other rock bands. This is a good addition to any prog (rock) music collection even though the music tends to be a hard rock one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by ClemofNazareth
3 stars I haven’t listened to this album in years, but dug it out recently out of desperation for something new to write a review about. Like Fleetwood Mac, Journey, Rush, Yes and ELO, I ended up buying Styx back-catalog records after being turned on to them by their more popular later recordings. Of those, only ELO, Yes and Fleetwood Mac turned out to have early recordings that were as good (or better) than their hit albums. For Styx, this album is dramatically different than the Top-40 records of the mid-seventies, but it is amazingly consistent with some of the better American progressive music of that day, which is to say it rocks harder than most British progressive bands of the same period, is decidedly blues-based but with plenty of experimentation and apparently some improvisation, is heavy on the keyboards (mostly Hammond), and translates very well to the live concert setting.

I unfortunately was already getting into cassettes by the time I got around to Styx’ early stuff, so the quality here isn’t anywhere near as good as I’d like, but it is decent enough for the period.

“Movement for the Common Man…” is a great example of the lack of restrictions the band felt in putting together this debut. There is more than a passing resemblance to Grand Funk Railroad, but the keyboard and tempo progressions throughout lend a sort of suite-like feel that may have been influenced by ELP, or maybe even Rod Argent. ELP of course found much greater success with their own version of this Aaron Copeland tune several years later. Also, the pseudo- street recordings were a very early example of the kind of thing Godspeed You! Black Emperor would perfect more than twenty years later with the opinionated ramblings of common folk with their slanted views of modern youth and the degeneration of society in general. Like I said, this is fairly heavy music both on keyboards and guitar, and I can see where this would have far more appeal to American fans than to those who grew up on the more ‘refined’ work of Genesis or PFM. But hey – there are probably some Tull fans out there that dug this stuff too!

The next couple tracks, “Right Away” and “What Has Come Between Us” are more straightforward blues-rock tunes with harmonizing vocals, with the latter showing some signs of the layered harmonies the band would use to dominate the airwaves between 1975 and 1979. “Best Thing” has the same vocal layout, but introduces a more elaborate keyboard mix and stronger guitar work. This isn’t a particularly strong tune, but I can see where it would have sounded good on an open-air stage, and it scored the band their first minor hit in the U.S.

There seems to be a bit of influence from the British blues-rock band Free on “Quick Is the Beat of My Heart”, as well as on “After You Leave Me”, which actually could have passed for a Bad Company tune if Paul Rodgers were providing the vocals. This isn’t prog rock, but it sure has enough of that flavor to at least be worth a few listens. And speaking of that lack of restrictions, this is a George Clinton (of Parliament/Funkadelic fame), so the band certainly didn’t feel constrained by any particular style when they recorded this.

I wouldn’t rank this as Styx best by any means, but it is an album that deserves to rank a bit higher than just the collector/completionist status it has been relegated to for so many years. I’d say this is a three star effort, and is recommended to those who think Styx was nothing more than Tommy Shaw’s hair-band backups.


Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Styx in the throat...

To someone whose first exposure to Styx was the sickly-sweet hit single "Babe", this album comes as a bit of a surprise - and it's really not too bad, as a fairly typical 1970s hard rock album with Prog pretensions.

"Movement for the Common Man" begins with a foot-tapping drum beat, quickly joined by the rest of the instruments in a blaze of typical hard rock sound, a mixture of Free, Deep Purple and even Status Quo in places, with a vocal sound somewhere between Bon Scott and Brian Connolley.

The subtitled song "Children of the Land" is presented first - a standard up-tempo rocker with a catchy tune and plenty of rock energy. A couple of guitar solos are worked in - some nice pentatonic blufferama with strong flavours of Lynyrd Skynrd. This drops down to a Santana-esque drum break, and disappears altogether for an interesting tuned percussion solo.

The changes feel a little too much, as an over-flanged bass and guitar pick up the next section - but it's not completely overdone. This builds to include the organ and a searing lead guitar to go off on a jazzy groove with flavours of Dave Brubeck. Suddenly, this is all stripped away, as a train passes, then voices babble on - somewhat similar to the vocal snippets in "Dark Side of the Moon". Background city noises are interspersed - and I'm reminded a little of the Woodstock soundtrack in the ambience that's created - but, of course, transposed. It's easy to see how this all ties in with "Fanfare to the Common Man".

Duly, Copland's "Common Man" theme is presented, with lashings of Hammond and slightly clumsy harmonisations - nevertheless, a very interesting interpretation indeed, especially as it predates ELP's rendition. Next we fly off into a Moog-led groove, then the vocals join in for what appears to be a new song section, that's actually well constructed. More widdly woo on the guitar, with Skynyrd flavours is cut across with a tension-building riff, dropping back artfully to a more mellow flute-sounding synth lead, and a more laid-back, reflective section that hints at songs like "Babe" to come later in Styx's repertoire.

A twangy acoustic, drenched with synth moves energetically towards yet another widdly guitar solo, an organ cut-across... the kitchen sink is thrown in here in a style that Boston were to claim in the late 1970s.

All in all, a very interesting Proggy piece that's nowhere near as bad as reviews I've read of this album have led me to believe - a really nice surprise. Maybe a little piecemeal - but I'm not sure how valid a criticism that is when we're talking about Progressive Rock!

This seems to be a template for much that came after it, and really, I can think of little by way of precedent. A very impressive opening.

Styx with it...

Moving along, "Right Away" also carries flavours of the great Boston debut album - the tune seems very familiar. When the chorus kicks in, though, it's in Spooky Tooth territory, reminding me strongly of "Sunshine Help Me" (The Last Puff). Again, a strong hard-rock style song is presented, with proggy flavours - the organ and piano backing with the strong vocal harmonies contributing in no small way. However, in terms of structure, this is less interesting than the preceeding track - and the guitar solo is somewhat on the sucky side. Ah. Make that both guitar solos suck like a sucking thing in suck street. Good song though.

The agitated piano entry to "What has come between us" provides a great contrast, and a good flow to the album. Styx return to the slightly piecemeal style, and the energetic entry fizzles out into a slow song reminiscent of so much late 1960s/early 1970s rock. The harpsichord sound provides a nice backing - but sadly the phrases are badly tailed off so that a song with great potential, strong melodies and powerful execution feels somewhat unsatisfying as a whole. There's plenty to like about it though - the keyboard instrumental section is rather nice, and well broken up, and the harmonies may remind some of Yes with the triad movement inherited from Buffalo Springfield. There's also a guitar solo which... here's a clue... rhymes with "ducks".

"Best Thing" is yet another song about love/relationships, never a welcome thing in Prog for me - but that riff is chunkier than a chunky Kit Kat, and the organ lends it a huge and dirty sound - a bit Black Sabbath in a way. This runs off into a very interesting direction with a little keyboard ostinato and swooping vocal harmonies before plunging back into the dirty groove. Not spectacularly proggy, but very cool indeed - a real headbanger.

"Quick is the Beat of my Heart" is another very tuneful rocker, with lush organ, a nice range of textures, good riffs, an exciting overall sound, a great keyboard solo and another noodly aimless guitar solo.

"After You Leave Me" (written by George Clinton) has more interesting textures - including guitar harmonics in the intro, and great songwriting with fantastic vocal harmonies - but no real surprises, except, maybe the ending, which has a distinct early Queen sound about it.

It's yet another great song though - completing a sextet of sonourous succulences; a veritable late night box of chocolates for the ears. And very tasty too.

Out in the Styx

Easily up there with the proggiest that Uriah Heep have to offer - but with a slicker professionalism and more consistency in the songwriting - this is a great melodic and finely arranged 1970s hard rock album - comfortably Prog-Related enough that any Progger can own it (and listen to it) without shame. For fans of that 1970s sound, this is a goldmine, and an essential purchase - but beware the guitar solos that go up to 11...

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 01. Movement For The Common Man Slightly based in The Fanfare For The Common Man by Aaron Copland (5 years later that the E, L & P would make a version), begins almost like a Hard / Prog, with the voice of torn and good guitar riffs, and interesting with a chorus low footprint animal. The soils also appear at any moment. Part of percussion with electronics and strange 'sounds' everywhere, full of low end, wha guitar and Hammond eating loose. In a third part a kind of monologue on the edge of the road, same type ride, which in my opinion is one of the coolest things I've ever heard, I imagine all the scenes and characters in my head, which is excellent! As would be the third part is yes we enter into a total air E, L & P, with melodies and percussion timbres, and then more Progressive Rock baby! Guitars, and many keyboards and a great vocal melody, the kind that I sing with (pardon me, I could not put the letters in the file, but the site of them has the lyrics). There are many different parts of the song, which together form a piece of extremely good taste and intelligence, without a doubt an epic forget! 02. Right Away A beautiful song with the refrain gummy and very good, those that play on any radio, but does not ring because the radios for this charge (PQP, and look who is granting public radio!) Good guitar break.

03. What Has Come Between Us Great piano and entry of many agreements with all playing together, but in reference to the keyboard. Then the guitars with melodies and a chorus duplicate very nice, highlight the battery of John Panozzo played very well and sealed. The party is almost entirely instrumental E, L & P (if not the guitar break).

04. Best Thing Guitar, vocal melody and a la The Who! Several vocal singing in chorus, low timbre with that very cool, and relatively heavy. Very good.

05. Quick Is The Beat Of My Heart Riff primed, the whole HAMMONDS, voice and a guitar eternal 'frantic' the fund, both the band's guitarists James Young and John Curulewski not kidding they know there are really what to do with the two guitars (as opposed to bands like Iron Maiden for example). Final horrifying, infinite echo and the beginning of a 'prayer'.

06. After You Leave Me A riff to the Deep Purple, but deeper, a keyboard nice beautiful voice, beautiful melodies and make the song a rare case of a Progressive strangely different. Vocal end very nice.

In summary the final balance is very good, a short disc (as all of the 70 disc), but in extremely good taste, we should hear more stuff.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
1 stars Movement for a common band

I own this debut album as part of a 2CD set called The Wooden Nickel Recordings comprising Styx' first four albums. Of these four albums, only Styx II is consistently good. But at least three of these four albums feature at least some good material and if you are interested in early Styx, this 2CD set is definitely the best way to go. It is indeed a very nice package with superb cover art very much in line with the band's name ('Styx', of course, being the river of death). However, this self-titled debut is easily the weakest of the four Wooden Nickel albums and contains mostly rather weak songs.

The album opens with the four part Movement For The Common Man. Despite appearances this is not a particularly progressive piece, though. The first part is nothing more than a straightforward Rock 'N' Roll number. This is followed by Street Collage which is exactly what its title implies; some interviews with people of the street about contemporary youngsters behaviour and attitudes to life and work. After this we have a short segment of Aaron Copeland's Fanfare For The Common Man. Prog fans will recognize this piece from Emerson Lake & Palmer's version made several years later. Were Emerson Lake & Palmer inspired by Styx? I very much doubt it, but it is possible. Movement For The Common Man is concluded by Mother Nature's Matinee which is its best part and possibly the best part of the whole album. Overall, this 13+ minute song is bound to dissatisfy anyone expecting a Prog epic or anything along those lines. The four parts are not very well integrated and it all tends to give a rather immature impression. It is a debut album we are talking about here after all and Styx has all the marks of a first attempt.

The rest of the album is even less impressive. Almost half the material is written by outsiders and nothing here is at all memorable. It all sounds very middle-of-the-road. After the last song ends and the disc is given over to Styx II the difference in quality is immediately apparent.

Styx did not start out very strong here. One (and a half) stars is all I can give them for this.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Styx debut is very raw album. Raw in musicianship, and raw in energy as well. Keyboards based hard rock with long compositions and many rocking guitar solos. Melodic songs. No overproduction.

For sure there are too many places where you can see that band is still not experienced enough, and still is searching for it's direction. But even with all this the album sounds fresh and not boring. Possibly there is some nostalgia in my emotions to this album: it sounds as good as many rock albums of that time sounded. Each song has it face, no myriads of faceless and overproduced clones, as in later decades. You can like some songs and hate another, but at least you can identify them. Tell true-how many modern (neo) prog albums or even bands have songs you can identify or even remember after few listenings? Not too much.

Movement of the Common Man (13:11) isn't a successful experiment, but it sounds as early progressive song for sure. You can easily find many elements of hard-rock, blues- rock ,some prog as well in album's songs. And will hardly find polished pop-rock sound of Styx later period.

So, even if far from great ,this album is better choice than Styx albums from 80-s.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Debut of a great American band

Sadly, Styx suffers a bad reputation going all the way back to rock writers of their day. Sadly I say, because in my opinion, when one delves into their entire catalog as opposed to judging them by their radio hits, one finds a very good Midwestern American rock band who delivered colorful and exciting pop, rock, and even some prog (or art-rock if you prefer.) The snooty critics hated them back then and it seems that many of the same complaints get regurgitated and absorbed by people as they grow up, and I think it is sad for people who may have otherwise liked the music were it not for groupthink and their reputation as 'less cool' than other rock bands. Their beginnings go way back to the Chicago of the early 1960s when DeYoung met the Panozzos, barely teenagers, and they would toil in some form for a decade before becoming Styx and releasing this album. The first four Styx albums were released by Wooden Nickel Records and feel very different from their later, world famous albums released by A&M.

Back before the Tommy Shaw era, Dennis DeYoung and James Young shared creative duties with the turbulent and experimental personality of guitarist John Curulewski. They were young and working together, the result being a true band feel as opposed to later when material was often written individually and there was less camaraderie. The young Styx was hungry, they rocked hard, and there was a real spirit of adventure. While there are a few duds in the Wooden Nickel era, as a whole this material is surprisingly strong, edgy, and well worth investigation. Doing so has never been so easy and economical, as there is a new two-disc set which includes all four albums in great remastered sound, with new liner notes and some bonus tracks, for a very good price. (If you wait until this goes out of print, you may have to again pay big bucks to hear this music).

To begin, let me just say that if you've never heard the Wooden Nickel era, you don't really know jack about Styx. This era of the band has more in common with Deep Purple, Wishbone Ash, or Skynryd than it does with the group's popular late 70s era. There are flavors of British progressive rock, hard rock, blues, and Southern rock. James Young brought the hard rock to the table, while Curulewski brought progressive curiosity and great guitar work, and DeYoung was honing his ballads and theatrical tendencies while still thoroughly pumping the band's sound full of swirly organ, synth, piano, and even harpsichord. The Panozzo brothers may not have been musically gifted as other 70s rhythm sections but they certainly go the job done.

Martin Huxley describes the debut as 'an early blueprint for the quintet's blend of synthesizer driven art-prog and fist-pumping hard rock.' It included 'Best Thing' which was the original song that first caught the attention of Wooden Nickel's Bill Traut, specifically for the 'striking' voices of DeYoung and Young working together. Traut was smart enough to realize that while the band had aspirations of ELP and Yes, the musicians did not possess quite the same chops, and he brought in some people to help Styx define their sound and audience. While the band were not always thrilled with decisions that were made, there is little doubt Traut deserves some credit for his confidence in the band. He also provided the band name in a memorable way. The guys could not agree on what the new name should be and were tired of fighting about it, but Traut insisted their old name TW4 had to go. So they challenged Traut to pick the name and they would vote. He called his friend who was a heavy pot smoker and creative when he was high. He told him to smoke a joint and come up with 50 names by morning. The guy obliged and Styx was one of five that Traut picked and sent to the boys for review.

The debut completely stiffed and is derided by many, including members of the group. But I happen to love its blend of 'rock with feeling' and artsy pretension. The music rocks and is filled with color and personality. That is what I love about Styx when boiled down to the core. Color, good melody, and personality. They rock, they entertain, and they have this indefinable Midwest quality and work ethic. I love the blistering guitar work of JY on the highlight track, the 13-minute 'Movement for the Common Man.' There's a neat little sound collage where some old guys from the Depression era talk about the youth of the day. There's a beautiful closing section in 'Mother Nature's Matinee' where the synth and acoustic guitar come together with DeYoung's voice. It's not a perfect track by any means but it is entertaining and shows the various weapons the group possessed. The other tracks are very raw and garage but one must remember this was their first crack at the studio. For what it was, the results are very good in my opinion. There is a good amount of melody and energy despite the rather low budget feel overall.

I find the Wooden Nickel albums to be tremendously enjoyable and absolutely worth checking out, if you enjoy hard rock mixed with art-rock ambition. The early Styx albums are a bit like the early Billy Joel albums prior to 'The Stranger.' Not similar in their sound but similar in the way they are less realized, grittier works with some real gems hidden amongst a few clunkers. The first album however contains no clunkers to me personally, probably my favorite of the bunch. Then again, I often love the naivety and joy of debut albums. 3.5 stars.

Yes, I like 70s Styx. I even like Dennis. I will no longer live in shame.

Review by stefro
3 stars The first of four albums Styx would record for the Wooden Nickel label before moving on to bigger and better commercial success, this debut effort from the Chicago outfit found the fledgling group charting a distinctively progressive course, blending complex instrumental flourishes into a broader rock-and-pop palette typical of American groups. Similar in style to the early works of fellow Americans Journey and, to a lesser extent, Kansas, Styx's progressive pedigree - some argue they are nothing more than just spiced-up purveyors of colourful pop - should never really be in any doubt, especially considering that the opening track on this self- titled release pre-figures genre titans ELP by a good few years. Considered one of the British supergroup's most recognisable compositions, Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man' was actually used by Styx well before Keith Emerson got his hands all over it, the piece featuring in the opening thirteen-minute salvo 'Movement For The Common Man' alongside some slightly surreal - and genuinely real - spoken-word monologues from a bunch of down-at-heel Chicago locals recorded by the group during sessions for the album. A lengthy, ambitious opus, 'Movement For The Common Man' showcases a dynamic young group at play, blending symphonic passages, raw, almost bluesy guitars and harmonised vocals to impressive effect. It's a sure slap in the face for the group's (many) detractors, and proof that Styx were once a much more creative outfit than the syrupy AOR hit machine that found so much commercial success in the 1980s. The rest of the album finds Styx in less expansive mode, yet there's a snappy energy and relentless willingness to go beyond the normal rock conventions, no doubt part-influenced by the major British progressive acts, some of whom - the likes of Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes and Pink Floyd - were starting to cultivate large followings throughout North America. Despite never quite reaching the heights scaled by 'Movement For The Common Man' however, there is still much to recommend here. Elegant follow-up piece 'Right Away' finds vocalist Dennis DeYoung delivering an impassioned performance; 'Best Thing' features a snappy pace and deceptively catchy melody undercut by an almost bluesy tinge; finally, album closer 'After You Leave Me' hints towards the groups populist future with twinkling keyboards and soothing acoustic guitars backing up yet another ear- catching performance from DeYoung. Progressive pop, if you like, and it sounds surprisingly good.


Review by GruvanDahlman
3 stars Styx is probably most remembered (and revered) for their albums from the second half of the 70's and first half of the 80's. I suppose that's when they were in their prime, so to speak. A nice surprise, then, is this album which happens to be their first. Not slightly different to the more well known but very different. Is that any good?

The polished and very well produced albums from later years, such as Paradise Theatre or Pieces of eight, are great stuff to enjoy. What you will find on their debut album is very much a raw, unpolished album. Yet it is both visionary and progressive, at least up to a point.

The first track is the most progressive, "Fanfare for the common man": Stretching out, the 13 minutes or so, the song or epic is made up of several parts and many ideas. There is even a spoken part in the middle, where people off the street are talking about work and economy. That is quite intriguing. The whole of the track is a sort of showcse for the album as a whole. Hard rock with great organ work and sometimes distorted bass. It is a showcase for their love of hard rock. Of further note, when discussing the songs, is "Quick is the beat of my heart". That is one song that really sticks out in my ears. Heavy, raucious hard rock of the finest quality. Wery good indeed! I find that while no track is bad, they are all good, none really stand out in form or sound. It is all very similar, except for "Fanfare for the common man".

As ever with Styx the album is well produced but not as polished as later ones. In fact, it is not polished at all. It is very raw and kicking like an animal. While I find it very enjoyable and being a fan of early hard rock/metal this obviously brings sensations to me. On the other hand it is not that exceptional. It is good, early 70's hard rock, spiced with progressive leanings. It is not that complex, rather it is quite accessible and is easy to dig. However, the run-of-the-mill hard rock, no matter how good it appears, is that it is similar to other bands and better albums. Nothing is wrong but nothing is exceptional either. You could find more inventive and exciting albums from the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Budgie or any of the greats from the period. One good thing is that Styx is leaning away from pure blues and are not tempted to put in some awful boogie track, to (un)even things off.

As a conclusion I would like to add that Styx (the album) is cohesive, connected and good. By no means essential. It is simply a very enjoyable album and that can sometimes be good enough.

Review by FragileKings
3 stars Nearly every review here on PA of Styx's 1972 debut album will tell you that the band represented by this music is a long stretch away from the classic band of the latter half of the seventies. The same could be said for any classic seventies bands because music was evolving rapidly at the time. Every great band has its humble beginnings, and debut albums are often where a band will show what they've been working on for the last few years before they begin turning away from their early sound in search of something more developed. "Styx" is no different. The album is young, raw, and of its year: hard and heavy guitar rock with some boogie rock and lots of organ with only hints of the more progressive efforts to come. What is also surprising, however, is that of the six tracks, only two are original songs written by the band. The other four were requested by the record label; the band recorded four covers of songs they had never heard before.

"Movement for the Common Man" is basically two songs connected by instrumental and spoken word interludes. The first part, "Children of the Land" is a boogie rock number written and sung by guitarist James Young. It's quite straightforward, no frills guitar and piano rocker. It's followed by a short but interesting percussion solo by drummer John Panozzo (too many early seventies albums have so much unnecessary drum solo filler, so it's nice to hear one that's not too long and that has some more interesting sounds happening). An instrumental featuring guitar and organ solos followed before a train rushes past and we then hear comments from people on the street (and a bus driver it seems) about how young people today have too much money and don't know the value of hard work or personal hygiene. A Styx reworking of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare for the Common Man" introduces the second proper song in this first track, a song called "Mother Nature's Matinee" written by Dennis DeYoung and sung by both Young and DeYoung. This is perhaps the proggiest track on the album and the first to indicate what the band would be capable of in the future.

The other original song is "Best Thing", another Young/DeYoung collaboration that stands out very well. It features both acoustic guitar and heavy rock guitar and lots of organ. I'd say it would sound very nice in a compilation of early seventies heavy rock songs, including Uriah Heep, Bodkin, Lucifer's Friend, and even Coverdale/Hughes era Deep Purple.

The remaining four tracks are the cover tunes, and of those I like "Quick Is the Beat of My Heart" and "After You Leave Me" best, though "What Has Come Between Us" is also pretty good, with a dramatic intro and Dennis DeYoung's keyboards out for show. In a way, it's representative of future DeYoung works in spite of it being a cover.

The style and sound on these tracks have been adapted to suit this early version of Styx, and until I read that these tracks were covers, I believed them to be all band originals because I had never heard them before either. Only the side one closer, "Right Away" is a drag, sounding like a very typical southern rock-tinged song with a repeating chorus that promises nothing but too much beer drinking among partially inebriated bar dwellers, swaying drunkenly on their bar stools.

One interesting note is that Young takes lead vocal duty the most with DeYoung only taking lead on two songs and sharing lead on one. Dennis DeYoung would of course later give the band many of its biggest hits. Guitarist John Curulewski, who sings on later Styx albums, offers no lead vocals on the debut.

Some people have some pretty harsh opinions about this album, but I rather like it. If you're not looking for a true progressive rock band but content with a hard/heavy rock band that flirt with progressive rock in only two or three songs, then this albums rewards. However, if you're looking for the band that would later deliver "Equinox", "The Grand Illusion" or "Pieces of Eight", then what you'll find here is the unrefined, post-acne youth with energy and ambition but not yet enough experience or maturation.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Styx-Styx I The late 60's and early 70's were great years for starting a progressive rock band. Bands like Yes, King Crimson, and Gentle Giant all formed during this time, however, Styx seems to either be forgotten or hated among the prog community. I have never understood why, they are no le ... (read more)

Report this review (#1290585) | Posted by Fearabsentia | Sunday, October 12, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars First album of the group. The group want to prove that he(it) is in the American progressive Hard rock. The first title does not break bricks, in strength and not very successful. Second coolest and more composed propose a more commercial style. The third title takes off finally with a style fm, ... (read more)

Report this review (#227546) | Posted by Discographia | Sunday, July 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Hard rock meets the worst prog ever made. And wow, those vocals are abysmal. What happened? I think I like them more as a radio friendly arena rock band... Sure, ti is heavy, and sure it is fiery. But it is simple, so painfully simple that I can barely stand to listen to it all the way throu ... (read more)

Report this review (#212846) | Posted by Alitare | Wednesday, April 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I can only say the most "prog-ish" type of tunes on this album have to the their 12 minute "Movement For The Common Man" as it is a medley of several tunes in different tempos and time signatures, not to mention their brief rendition of Aaron Copeland's Fanfare For the Common Man, predating ELP's ... (read more)

Report this review (#125365) | Posted by progwzrd | Sunday, June 10, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This album is bland, and not very unique. Styx were a very mainstream, commercially appeasing, high-energy rock band in the early/mid 70s. What has come between us has a very interesting intro, but the rest of the song is boring. Most of the other songs are kind of fun, but really aren't very mea ... (read more)

Report this review (#89997) | Posted by Shakespeare | Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is Styx debut album. It is much less 'arena-rock' oriented and more 'roots-rock' oriented, soguht of closer to Lynyrd Skynyrd say, than Van Halen. It is a highly enjoyable set, with the Hippy anthem 'Children of the land' kicking things off in fine fashion. The mezmerizing 'Mother natures ... (read more)

Report this review (#78807) | Posted by Brendan | Saturday, May 20, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Styx in the early seventies were an intriguing band. Obviously influenced by ELP and to a lesser extent Yes they also seemed to have commercial/hard rock aspirations. I find the first few albums (released on Wooden Nickle) very interesting in a "what could have been" in the sense that they w ... (read more)

Report this review (#48191) | Posted by | Saturday, September 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Okay, I can agree on some points I have seen here, but some I simply can't. Back in the days of the early 1970's, a local Chicago band, TW4, changed their name to STYX and decided to try their hand at writing their debut album. Certainly, if you put this disc next to their latter day classic ... (read more)

Report this review (#38849) | Posted by silversaw | Friday, July 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Styx would eventually reach massive heights with their hard rocking tunes and sweeping ballads. Sadly, though, they did not start out in sterling form. Their first album is a hit-or-miss affair with only a few cuts catching fire. While Styx fans will love to hear their early work, most casual fan ... (read more)

Report this review (#17343) | Posted by | Friday, December 26, 2003 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of STYX "Styx"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.