Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography



Prog Related

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Styx Paradise Theatre album cover
3.08 | 240 ratings | 24 reviews | 15% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

Buy STYX Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 1981

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A.D. 1928 (1:07)
2. Rockin' the Paradise (3:34)
3. Too Much Time on My Hands (4:33)
4. Nothing Ever Goes as Planned (4:47)
5. The Best of Times (4:21)
6. Lonely People (5:25)
7. She Cares (4:21)
8. Snowblind (4:59)
9. Half-Penny, Two-Penny (5:58)
10. A.D. 1958 (1:06)
11. State Street Sadie (0:26)

Total Time 40:37

Line-up / Musicians

- James Young / guitars, vocals
- Tommy Shaw / guitars, vocals
- Dennis DeYoung / keyboards, vocals
- Chuck Panozzo / bass, bass pedals
- John Panozzo / drums, percussion

- Steve Eisen / saxophone solo
- Dan Barber / trumpet
- Mark Ohlsen / trumpet
- Mike Halpin / trombone
- John Haynor / horn
- Billy Simpson / horn
- Ed Tossing / horn arrangements

Releases information

Artwork: Chris Hopkins with Willardson & White Inc

LP A&M Records ‎- SP-3719 (1981, US)

CD A&M Records ‎- CDA 63719 (1984, Europe)
SACD Audio Fidelity ‎- AFZ 174 (2014, US) Remastered by Kevin Gray

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

Buy STYX Paradise Theatre Music

STYX Paradise Theatre ratings distribution

(240 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(15%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (39%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

STYX Paradise Theatre reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
1 stars Grandiose idea from somebody even more pompous than Wakeman or Emerson. This is a De Young project and is best forgotten but the worst is yet to come. I may seem harsh on the band , but this sounds so hollow to me , and I never understood why this had so much success. Don't get me wrong , this is still sounding like Styx, but a very pretentious Stynx
Review by hdfisch
1 stars Well, honestly I don't know what to write about such a record. It just blows me away how bad it is. I've never been a great STYX fan, but I listened to all their albums from 72 - 80. In my opinion they had 1 or 2 albums containing really well done Art Rock "Illusion" and "Pieces of Eight", still a bit more commercially and pop orientated rock, but somehow done in an artistic way. As well their first two albums have been quite good, although being rather straight ahead rock. But this album here I would just call a not too bad pop rock one, since the songs are done in such a simple and commercial way that it definitely can't be considered as Art Rock. The only better track on it is "Half penny", but still miles away from the songs on their best albums. I would say together with "Cornerstone" one of the weakest ones from them.
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This might be an example of concept album which does not necessarily "prog" musically. Unless, you might consider "anything concept album must be a prog music" then it's okay to box this album as prog album. Putting off all the prog attributes with respect to this album, this is definitely a good (or event excellent) album to have.

Looking at the CD package and its cover artwork, "Paradise Theater" seems like the band's effort to appear with a Broadway style. This was proved with their live video whenever they played this album, they put all full-fledge backdrops that looked similar with the cover artwork of this album. With this in mind it's a big thing for the band - in terms of what they tried to offer with this album. A couple excellent rockers, a couple of sweet ballads, lots of flash, but not much showing prog. This might not be a good album to start with Styx even though it's a good one. I first fell in love with Styx through their "Man of Miracles" album and I suggest you start with this album or with "Equinox". But, don't ever imagine that Styx is a prog band because it will disappoint you. Most of Styx albums are straight hard rocker and very very minimum prog elements. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Styx bring the house down

The concept of "Paradise Theater" is loosely based around the closure and demolition of a large theatre on the west side of Chicago in 1958. The building had been standing for 30 years, but the advent of television had led to its demise. The story appears to be fictional, although it could easily apply to any era since that time.

While the introduction of a concept hints at a more progressive direction, the songs here are among the most pop and stadium rock the band had produced up to the time of the album's release. After the brief intro "A.D. 1928", the year of construction, "Rockin' the Paradise" is a simple, upbeat crowd pleaser. "Too much time on my hands" maintains the upbeat rhythm while telling the tale of a self pitying loser. At this stage, the concept is drifting, and the songs becoming more self contained. This continues on "Nothing ever goes as planned", which seems to be an autobiographical tale of loneliness on the road, "I strut around the stage like a little king tonight. but when the show is over and I'm all alone. I've got the big star blues". The track includes a full horn section which jazz's things up as the track closes.

The best track here is probably "Snowblind", a plodding blues based song which focuses on the undesirable effects of drug taking. "The best of times" is a Dennis DeYoung ballad from the "Babe" stable. While it is typically mushy, it is well performed and appealing.

Songs such as "Lonely people", "Halfpenny, Two penny" and "She cares" are pleasantly diverting, but lack the strength of composition and arrangement to make them anything other than disposable. And that pretty much sums up the entire album. There is nothing worthy of damning criticism here, but neither is there much which demands fawning praise. From a prog perspective, it is nice to see an album with a reasonable concept, but unfortunately that does not automatically lead to a prog album.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars One of the best Styx records, no doubt. To me is the best after Equinox. A much better album than the previus 3 , maybe is a pop with some prog elements but is well played and has a great concept. What to say more, a 3 star album, not bad, but not something special either. If you like Kayak or even Toto or ELO (second period) this may please you. Forte tracks: Too Much Time On My Hands, Nothing Ever Goes As Planned andHalf-Penny, Two-Penny. In the end worth a spin.
Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Not everything goes as planned...

This was my first experience with Styx, and not a very enjoyable one... No, the album is not that bad, but it has taken a more popular direction, moving away from their 'proggy' roots. Although never a full prog band, Styx have contributed with their sound in the progressive scene of the US, blending AOR with pop and - allow me to say - commercial progressive rock with highly appreciated efforts like 'The Grand Illusion' and 'Pieces of Eight'.

Promising start for the album with A.D. 1928, which prepares the listener for an interesting experience. 'Rockin' the paradise' and 'Too much time on my hands' follow with a pop/rock/rock 'n roll approach with catchy refrains and melodies; it's not strange that 'Too much...' has been one of the hits of the early 80's. Both decent tracks but not at all impressive, being in the middle of AOR and pop...

The following 3-4 tracks have nothing more to present, following the same tempo and style of music without any pleasant surprises that could take this record to a higher level. Overall, the middle part of the album is quite uninspiring and uninteresting (The best of times).

The best tracks appear near the end of the album with 'Snowblind' and 'Half-penny, two-penny', a decent rocking track. The following two outros are just a pleasant ending for a generally weak record.

I admit there is not much to say about this record, and not much motivation to speak further about a mediocre output. This album may appeal to friends of AOR/pop-rock but definitely not to prog-rock fans or people that have enjoyed Styx's earlier recordings. It may be decent for collectors of this music genre and could probably be worth of 2.5 stars. But definitely not good enough...

Obviously not recommended for first-time Styx listeners, this album can be misleading, as it was for me...

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 stars Styx A.D. 1981

I think that Paradise Theater is the more worthy (or should I say less unworthy?) follow up to The Grand Illusion that Pieces Of Eight and Cornerstone failed to be. In a way, Paradise Theater can be seen as the best aspects of those two previous albums combined into one. While Pieces Of Eight went too far towards straightforward Arena rock and Cornerstone went too far towards syrupy ballads, Paradise Theater strikes a decent balance between the two directions, creating the most coherent and varied Styx album since The Grand Illusion from four years earlier. The fact that the album is a concept album further contributes to the album's appeal. Having that said, however, I must immediately add that Paradise Theater is by no means a great album and it is not particularly progressive at all over and above the fact that it is a concept album.

The two short A.D. pieces and the intro to The Best Of Times all share a common melody and these tracks are very nice and adds to the unity of the album. It is not easy to pick out favourite tracks from Paradise Theater, but the aforementioned are strong candidates. None of the songs here are as strong as some individual tracks from the previous albums like Boat On The River or Renegade, but the album as a whole is stronger. There is no pretending that this is a Prog album by any means, but it is a good concept album that reminds me a bit of ELO's Time that was released the same year (incidentally also the year I was born). The worst song is lonely people, the only song here that I don't like at all.

One thing that might put people off is the inclusion of brass instruments creating a sometimes more slick approach. But despite this, Paradise Theater is darker and less celebratory compared to earlier albums and Hard Rock is not left behind. I somehow find this album a more mature effort.

Overall, I think that Paradise Theater is one of Styx' most consistent albums and I find it quite enjoyable. However, I would not say that this is the best place to start if you want to explore Styx' discography.

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I am not a big fan of Styx. Fist their album I ever heard was "Corner Stone", I listened it still as LP soon after it was released. And even if I had mixed impression, some songs were really great ( just remember "Boat On The River"!). So I waited for their next release believing that it could be really good record.

And I remember the day I got Styx next release,"Paradise Theater". The name of album and cover looked a bit strange from very beginning, but I waited for the first sounds. Yes, you right, I was shocked!!! In fact, album's music is really what you wait from album with that name and under that cover. Choral vocals with pop-synth arrangements, plenty of electronic kitsch space "robotic" effects. All the bad low key pop music prepared for year 1981 is used there.

Styx always played with AOR and pop rock, sometimes with rare prog moments. But in that album they made things outside of that circle. Worst possible pop-synth-rock without even small pieces acceptable for listening.

Starting from that album, I just forget that name ( and never listen any other their album during next 26 years). Just avoid at any circumstances.

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "I wish the summer winds could bring back Paradise"

I realize this isn't the last Styx album, but like Drama, Final Cut, and Presence, it is one of those titles which represent the conclusion of a band's most worthwhile era. All long lived bands have hills and valleys but generally there is a core period when the music had optimum essence, and for Styx that period concluded with "Paradise Theater," which stands as one of the finest pop/rock albums of 1980. Loosely conceptual, it laments the decay of the United States and its economy using the Theater as metaphor. Whether he intended or not, I believe the metaphor also applies well to our collective collapse of values, and even in this case, of coming band stagnation. As Howard Bloom once mentioned about DeYoung's thematic visions, there is an aura of warning and collapsing civilization running below the often optimistic sounding music of the band, the clues can be noted throughout certain lyrics and album art. Styx itself was not immune. While the band's three writers continued to watch their artistic marriage fall apart, DeYoung somehow managed to spin the magic one more time. While the productions were growing more polished and alienating one part of their fanbase, "Paradise Theater" was a monstrous success and a remarkably fitting swan song to this fan. I can't believe how good it sounds after all this time.

"It's a wonderful concept on Dennis' part?the building was originally built to stand forever, but because of the Great Depression it fell on hard times, and ultimately became a parking lot" -James Young

"The builders had this slogan: 'Not for today, but for all time', and the place only lasted thirty years. They screwed up from the beginning. They built this monstrously lavish theater in 1928, the year before the talkies really came in. Except they didn't know the talkies were coming, so they didn't pay any attention to the acoustics, which were so bad people preferred to go to their little neighborhood theaters where they could hear. It struck me as symbolic of what's happening in this country." -Dennis DeYoung

The music of "Paradise Theater" features some of the most finely composed melodies, repeating themes, and lyrics the band ever did, and most of the credit has to be given to Dennis DeYoung. By this time Shaw was feeling marginalized and admittedly was devoting too much time to partying and contributing less. It showed, but Dennis and JY carried this one anyway. The album is bookended by AD1928 and AD1958 which refer to the lifespan of the Theater that was supposedly built to last forever, the musical themes spring from "The Best of Times" which is one of the finest melodic ballads ever written. Perfectly recorded with soaring feel-good vocals and guitar harmonies, the song contrasts the emotional heights with a tinge of sadness and longing, just amazing stuff. DeYoung continued his roll here with "Nothing Ever Goes as Planned" which is another masterful track, completely unique in the Styx catalog. Listen to those little guitar brushstrokes here and there, the horns, and the facial expression you can literally hear happening right through your speaker from his delivery. "Rockin' the Paradise" and "Too Much Time On My Hands" filled in the middle of side 1, a perfect side of rock and roll. "Rockin" was one of the last great moments of collaborative Styx bang-for-buck as they were becoming more soloists within a band. "Too Much Time" was a Shaw hit which barely made the album as a last minute addition. Listen to the unassuming but creative drumming and interesting timing of parts which adds to the vigor of the track.

Side two was less rock-solid but could not sink this particular ship. JY actually carries this side with his epic "Half Penny, Two Penny" which discussed the darker side of the album's themes. "Snowblind" was a chance for JY to use a creepy voice as they discussed personal degradation here, and Shaw came in with his lines about cocaine. DeYoung continued the discussion of the country's problems bleeding into the personal with "Lonely People" which again utilized horns and had a smokier vibe than his usual fare. Tommy's "She Cares" is the album's biggest liability as Shaw's indifference seems almost callous here-I find it hard to believe that he could not have delivered something more fitting once attuned to the quality of the songs around him, and realizing the album's conceptual theme was truly very good. Instead he offers up a rather light and inoffensive doo-wop track which is not horrible, just well out of place.

"Paradise Theater" is for me, among other things, a bit of longing for America's finest hour in the middle of the last century, before we began the slow process of self destructing from within. And it marks the symbolic end (for me) of this great rock band. None of the band's three writers would ever approach this level of quality again, individually or under the Styx moniker. Paradise was (and is) gone for good, and in my opinion DeYoung's documentation of the moment was nearly perfect. Side one is five stars, side two drops the average down unfortunately.

Review by Chicapah
3 stars Somehow Styx managed to weather the storms generated by the punk rock and New Wave movements of the late 70s and enter into the 80s still being considered one of the premier American bands in the world. Since bringing Tommy Shaw aboard in 1975 their knack for producing radio-friendly fare had increased drastically, enabling them to combine a certain strata of prog fans (who liked Dennis DeYoung's grandeur) with the "let's boogie" throng of rockers (who were attracted by the hard edge of Shaw's material). The three albums that preceded "Paradise Theatre" had all gone platinum and the fame and fortune this hardy band from Chicago had craved for so long had become a reality at last. Yet, as usual, that didn't prevent the ogre of dysfunction from invading the Styx family circle. You bring money and notoriety into any group and jealousy and bickering are bound to follow. Evidently the internal brouhaha caused by Dennis' sappy "Babe" becoming the band's first #1 hit single in '79 turned into a real identity crisis. That song's "easy listening" discharge left an indelible stain on what the rest of the members considered their renegade image. The friction got so heated that one day DeYoung received his pink slip. I have no doubt that the pukes in upper management had nightmarish visions of their golden goose getting cooked before their very eyes so cooler heads not only intervened but prevailed and Dennis and his cohorts were cajoled into kissing and making up for the sake of the greater good. In some cases reunions can be rejuvenating and that may explain why "Paradise Theatre" seems to have more energy and enthusiasm than "Cornerstone" does.

The record begins with DeYoung's "A.D. 1928," and in its role as a set-up tune it does avoid being patronizing. It has a classy nostalgic slant that issues a warm invite. Dennis, Tommy and guitarist James Young collaborated to pen the album's thematic number, "Rockin' the Paradise" and it's a big dose of arena rock that efficiently sets the tone for what's to follow. It's a solid piece of work but progressive it ain't. Its tight track is commendable but it confirms to me that they were no longer trying to compete with the likes of Genesis but now had acts like the massively popular Elton John in their sights. There's not a thing wrong with that ambition but this is a prog site and that alteration in their aspirations must be noted. Shaw's "Too Much Time on My Hands" is next and it's not only one of the best pop rock songs from that era but one of my all-time favorite Styx tunes. There's a lot to be said for a perfectly constructed number that contains an unforgettable hook because it's no easy feat to accomplish and this song, by reaching #9 on the charts, did a lot for elevating the record's visibility. Dennis' "Nothing Ever Goes as Planned" follows and it's kind of a Supertramp meets Meatloaf meld spread over a peppy Caribbean rhythm that's just eclectic enough to be intriguingly different. DeYoung's "The Best of Times" is another one of his overwrought power ballads that don't do a lot for me but I'm glad to report that it's a vast improvement over the nauseating "Babe." As a single it hit #3 and gave the general populace even more reason to invest in this album. Styx had become regular visitors to the Top 40 penthouse.

Dennis was on fire, compositionally speaking, and his "Lonely People" made it three cuts in a row. Its odd opening is rather directionless and the tune's pulsating beat brings to mind the pop side of the Alan Parsons Project. The number's verses and choruses are typical Styx stuff but the middle instrumental section has enough quirks and short detours thrown in to give it personality. The horns are a nice touch, too. As much stink as Tommy had made about DeYoung's creations being too commercial it's surprising to hear how light rock-oriented his "She Cares" is. It's not a shabby piece of work and I find the sax solo, while not spectacular, to be a decent change of pace but it does seem a bit hypocritical on his part. Dennis and James teamed up to write the controversial "Snowblind." (Paranoid right wingers swore they heard thinly-masked Satanic messages in the track's background. I surmise it was just tape hiss.) It's a dramatic, heavy-handed rocker that offers nothing new but does provide a broad platform for some passionate guitar licks and probably brought the house down in concert every night. Young's "Half-penny, Two-penny" follows. Its pounding throb propels the metallic riff that roils underneath the song's threatening vocal interspersed with a large-scale chorus. That's all fine and dandy but the overall effect is too prescribed and theatrical for this progger to wholly endorse. "A.D. 1958" is a predictable reprise of the opener and "State Street Sadie" is half a minute of an unrelated ragtime-ish ditty. Maybe it meant something to its composer, Mr. DeYoung.

This disc hit the shelves running on January 19, 1981 and streaked right up to the top spot on the album charts. Styx's string of successes continued unabated and the group reaped the huge benefits of their well-earned triumphs accordingly. Yet the cancer that caused the brief estrangement that almost derailed "Paradise Theatre" before it was even recorded hadn't been eradicated but was merely lying dormant for the time being. Like couples who split up and then remarry, the core problems were never fully addressed/resolved and would arise again to create havoc. But, in the meantime, Styx rightly enjoyed the adulation that came with what many consider their most cohesive and accessible record. There wasn't a lot of prog left in their tank at this juncture yet it's an album I can listen to without issuing an apology.

Review by stefro
2 stars Having hit their stride on their previous three studio albums, the first Styx record of the 1980's would find the Chicago outfit eschewing the pomp-prog stylings of 'The Grand Illusion' and 'Cornerstone' in favour of a sleek, radio-friendly sound. Ultimately this stylistic shift found on the group's tenth studio effort would generate much commercial success, yet it would also prove a highly-divisive release, fracturing the group's already fragile state of equilibrium and starting Styx's gradual decline from major label stars to minor cult outfit, a transformation that would be more-or-less complete by the end of the decade. A concept album that uses the history of Chicago's very own Paradise Theatre as a metaphor for America's changing fortunes at the beginning of the 1980's, 'Paradise Theatre' was the brainchild of vocalist-and- keyboardist Dennis DeYoung. As a result, the album incorporates elements of musical theatre, poppier melodies and much less of the group's trademark hard-rock power than usual. This decision to record a more streamlined album certainly caused friction, especially between DeYoung and the more rock-orientated guitarist Tommy Shaw, yet the success of 'Paradise Theatre' seemed, for a while at least, to placate the ongoing inter-band problems. Although credited to Styx, it was DeYoung who wrote the bulk of the album. This explains just why it features such a soft and gooey quality compared to previous release 'Cornerstone', the decision to incorporate new elements into Styx's trademark sound proving unfortunately rather ill-advised. Ultimately, although 'Paradise Theatre' might not in the same awful mould as follow-up 'Kilroy Was Here', in the grand scheme of all things Styx this is certainly one of their lesser albums. So, this is strictly one for the die-hards and completionists. STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Paradise Theater might initially seem like a huge improvement over Cornerstone but it ultimately sums up to a lackluster and rather shallow attempt at regaining back the band's art rock audience.

The record is built up as a concept album about a fictional story of Chicago's Paradise Theater from its opening to prime to closing and ultimately demolition. This really does sound like an interesting idea that I doubt that many artists would be able to do justice to. Unfortunately, Styx aren't an exception to the rule and completely butcher any chances of success with this half-hearted attempt at a concept record. It's pretty obvious that both Tommy Shaw and James Young were completely disinterested with the whole idea since none of their songs actually fit into the Paradise Theater storyline. Young's co-writing credit for Half-Penny, Two-Penny does have some important plot-points buried in the song's middle section but you'll really have to listen in carefully in order to actually hear any of the dialog under the sounds of ringing bells and stomping bass!

After completely trashing the concept and two of the three songwriters works, let's talk about why I actually enjoy this record and consider giving it an average rating; Half of this album was written by Dennis DeYoung who, once again, manages to show that he can be an excellent songwriter whenever he actually puts his mind to it. Songs like Rockin' The Paradise, The Best Of Times, Nothing Ever Goes As Planned and Lonely People depict him on top of his game and it's quite unfortunate that he wasn't able to write this entire album on his own.

Styx manages to, once again, deliver a mixed bag of an album with Paradise Theater. This time the highs don't manage to outmatch the lows which ultimately results in this average rating. DeYoung manages to deliver some of his best work while Shaw and Young assume that it's business as usual and continue to deliver some of their more forgettable material from the early '80s era.

***** star songs: A.D. 1928 (1:07) Rockin' The Paradise (3:34) The Best Of Times (4:21)

**** star songs: Too Much Time On My Hands (4:33) Nothing Ever Goes As Planned (4:47) Lonely People (5:25) Half-Penny, Two-Penny (5:58) A.D. 1958 (1:06)

*** star songs: She Cares (4:21) Snowblind (4:59) State Street Sadie (0:26)

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars This album by my perpetual prog/pop punching bag Styx shifts the band's emphasis even more into the "pop" spectrum, featuring fewer over arranged keyboard sections, less Dennis DeYoung vocals, and even fewer attempts at ambitious composition... it's very ironic then that I feel like this is one of the best albums by the band I've heard. Moving away from the middling prog stylings was a great decision for the band. They didn't have the creative gusto or sound needed for sweeping, artistic prog, so why bother? Paradise Theater is a loosely themed collection of great rock songs which while not prog, are probably the better because of it.

The opener is fun and energetic, and evokes a nostalgic tone with its old-time rock n' roll feel and chorus line over dubs. "Too Much Time on My Hands" is made for FM schlock but is devoid of cartoonish keyboards or DeYoung's whining croon, so it gets a pass in my book. "Nothing Ever Goes as Planned" is a different matter, it's a stylish, quirky, and strutting tune with a smoking horn section. Maybe the highlight of the album?

"Best of Times" is the low point, for prog and pop fans alike. It's basically an imitation of a Queen song with unapalogietically syrupy sweet vocals and emotional hooks that miss the mark. "Lonely People" shows of some interesting song writing, with a dramatic style and instrumental flair. One of the better tracks and probably one of the few that prog fans may be interested in.

"She Cares" is the required Tommy Shaw-led rocker, an upbeat, romantic, and bright song that makes the band end up sounding like Fleetwood Mac. Ironically, this is one of the more genuine and enjoyable songs in the whole album. It's radio-friendly hooks are appealing if harmless and unchallenging. "Snowblind" and "Half-Penny, Two-Penny" close the album on a dark tone, given their vocal content and the intense tone.

In the end there's a lot of variety, and not a lot of progressive ideas in Paradise Theater, and honestly, I think that's a good thing. Styx music generally doesn't work for me and after listening to this album several times I think I know why. Much of their music strives to be something the band just isn't, and by focusing on the rock and fun a stronger record appears. Strange for me to say, on a prog website, but it's the truth, making Paradise Theater a fun diversion now and again.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 2 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by patrickq
4 stars By my count, there are four very strong songs here: Tommy Shaw's synth-AOR "Too Much Time on My Hands," Dennis DeYoung's rock ballad "The Best of Times," and two pieces, right out of the late 1970s, written by Shaw, DeYoung, and James Young: the heavy antidrug downer "Snowblind,"* and the exuberant "Rockin' the Paradise." Add three decent album tracks and three short theme pieces, and you've got one of the better art-rock albums of the early 1980s. This excludes Shaw's underwhelming "She Cares," without which the album would be a respectable thirty-six minutes. But its inclusion reinforces the sense I have that a certain number of slots were reserved for Shaw, and he was going to fill them whether or not he had quality material. Ironically, Shaw, who is certainly capable of crafting a nice pop-rock song (e.g., "What If," "Girls With Guns"), is often viewed as the serious rocker thrust into the role of protecting Styx from the lite, commercial excesses of DeYoung - - and yet he turns in the tritest track on the album.

OK, enough Shaw bashing. And to be fair, (1) Shaw's other composition here is the catchy, humorous "Too Much Time on My Hands," which was arguably the most successful single on Paradise Theatre (Billboard: #9 pop, #2 rock; "The Best of Times" hit #3 and #16), and (2) his vocal performance on "Snowblind" is the best on the album.

But DeYoung is the star of Paradise Theatre. "The Best of Times" is masterful; more than a "power ballad," it's more like a mini-opera, especially if when paired with its converse, "Rockin' the Paradise." Even DeYoung's secondary songs, "Lonely People" and the minor hit "Nothing Ever Goes as Planned," are solid tracks, and are just as developed, refined, and embellished as the better- known songs. This consistency in attending to detail does as much to unify the album as does the ostensible concept. Two other aspects add to the overall quality. One is the last full-length song, Young's "Half-Penny, Two-Penny," which he co-wrote with his sometime collaborator Ray Brandle. This hard-rock tune is an apt ending, both musically and thematically, to the album. The other is the saxophone work, dispersed throughout DeYoung's songs, of Steve Eisen.

The sax accoutrements are a subtle indication that Paradise Theatre isn't progressive rock. It's art rock, or maybe art pop. Or maybe finely-crafted pomp-AOR. Judged as prog-rock, it comes up short - - but it also comes up short as country & western. However, judged on its own merits, Paradise Theatre is near the pinnacle of the late-1970s/early-1980s art-rock peddled by bands like Journey, Queen, Electric Light Orchestra, and the Moody Blues - - bands that perhaps had been more nearly progressive a decade earlier, and who today we label as "crossover prog" acts.

If you're a sucker like me for 1980s pop music and for progressive rock, you've probably already heard a third of Paradise Theatre, and you'll probably enjoy it as a whole.**


*Shaw's contributions to the lyrics, while uncredited, seem to be widely acknowledged. Superficially, "Snowblind" is addressed to a damnably irresistible lover, but the subject is easily read as cocaine. "Snowblind" - - get it?

**"She Cares" excepted, imho.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Doing a concept album just as you are dialling back the prog aspects of your work and presenting a more straight- ahead AOR style might be counterintuitive, but on Paradise Theatre the tactic pays off for Styx.

Hilariously. Christian groups and censorious politicians got upset about Snowblind - the former outright accusing it of being Satanic - despite the fact that it's not remotely as heavy as, say, Sabbath's song of the same name. There's at most a mild increase in the proportion of hard rock in the band's sound here compared to Cornerstone - but Cornerstone was a low water mark in that respect, and much of the album tends towards the softer end of AOR.

If you were charmed by The Grand Illusion because of the prog touches that Styx incorporated here and there in their sound and found their more straightforward material and ballads uninspiring, you likely won't dig this, but for those who find the latter aspects of their sound endearing this is a bit of a treat.

Latest members reviews

5 stars By this point of time, Styx were at their creative peak of song writing and this is very obvious in this concept album... I see all those one or two stars ratings and I really freak out with this willing blindness of harsh and unfair criticism about Styx and their music... Styx as I've said in t ... (read more)

Report this review (#424176) | Posted by Silent Knight | Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Of all the Styx I ever have or had, only KILROY is worse. This is pretty much straight-forward 80's arena rock with some power ballads thrown in. Dennis gets out some pompous song writing and the band plays on...classic Styx did not die a pleasant death...they just kept hanging on. The concept ... (read more)

Report this review (#297857) | Posted by mohaveman | Tuesday, September 7, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I'm giving it '4'; the sympathy vote. Really. This is not bad music at all, actually very well constructed and a nice concept. It definitely is not as pleasing as the albums before 'Cornerstone', but this is good music. It starts off with 'AD 1928' which is a melodic piano-ballad, which late ... (read more)

Report this review (#281751) | Posted by Brendan | Thursday, May 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This album succeeded in telling a story and failed to make good music. The story is about rise and fall of the Paradise Theater in its 40 years or so lifetime. Good idea for a good album. But an album should be conceived musically and Styx could not strike anything memorable here. Some pieces are ... (read more)

Report this review (#82553) | Posted by Sharier | Monday, July 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A much better album than it's predecessor "Cornerstone". It's a little bit a loose conceptalbum. The album is much more balanced than "Cornerstone" and has some very nice tracks on it like "Snowblind". The album is a good expansion to the other Styx albums "Equinox", "The Grand Illusion" and o ... (read more)

Report this review (#49956) | Posted by | Tuesday, October 4, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I will agree with the opinion that this is not progressive rock with its exact definition...but its a concept album with a very interesting and touching theme-the musicianship is of a high level(has any die hard fan an objection about it...we can talk it over...) The production is excellent and i ... (read more)

Report this review (#49480) | Posted by | Friday, September 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Conceptually, this nearly flawless album presents the listener with a wide array of music. There was a reason why STYX was voted the most popular band in the world in 1981, and this album was a big part of it. Does commercial success somehow decrease the value of the music? You would think so, ... (read more)

Report this review (#17403) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 19, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Few bands in today's era could hope to record an album as conceptually well done as "Paradise Theater." With diverse musical styles that span the entire album, the whole affair never grows stale or boring, even almost a quarter of a century later. Hit tracks like "The Best of Times" and "Too Much ... (read more)

Report this review (#17400) | Posted by | Friday, December 26, 2003 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Along with pieces of eight' 'Paradise Theater' is possibly the finest Styx album of all. There isn't really one weak track on there, though some might argue they had begun to drift into too much a commercial direction. No matter, this proved that Styx had great variation in their writing abilities ... (read more)

Report this review (#17398) | Posted by rainbowblade | Sunday, November 16, 2003 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of STYX "Paradise Theatre"

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.