Category: Styx

Styx – Man of Miracles

ARTIST: Styx                       220px-Styx_-_Man_of_Miracles

TITLE: Man of Miracles

YEAR RELEASED: 1974

CHART ACTION: #154

SINGLES: Best Thing

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None, and there’s a reason for that

LINEUP: Dennis DeYoung, James Young, John Curulewski, Chuck Panozzo, John Panozzo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Styx tries to pivot to rock away from progressive rock, with semi-embarrassing results.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: As much as John Curulewski could hit those high harmonies on “Lady”, the rock songs he wrote for this album as a way to get radio to become interested in Styx were, um, not good. The vocals sound like parodies and there’s a forced energy that permeates them.

James Young’s rockers are no better. Add to that a track that was already on an album, and you have a band at a definite crossroads with themselves. Dennis DeYoung steps up and creates some of his better early work, and while they were trying to get away from prog, “Man of Miracles” seems to be one of their better prog efforts and does set up their next few records.

This was their last effort for the Chicago-based Wooden Nickel, and they were lucky to have some good timing with a single released two years prior (“Lady) to keep their career moving.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Best Thing”, already on their debut album, was on this album too and released as a single. When this was re-released, a horrid cover of “Lies” by the Knickerbockers replaced it. Then, “Unfinished Song” replaced that, though it was on another album as well. The streaming version has “Lies”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: See above for the fun. 

GRADE:C : They were damn lucky “Lady” was a hit, because this wasn’t cutting it, despite Dennis DeYoung’s efforts.

Styx – The Serpent Is Rising

ARTIST: Styx                          220px-styx_-_the_serpent_is_rising

TITLE:  The Serpent Is Rising

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #192

SINGLES: Winner Take All

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You must be kidding.

LINEUP: Dennis DeYoung, James Young, John Curulewski, Chuck Panozzo, John Panozzo

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Styx fails to follow up with their pop success, and releases a rock / progressive hodgepodge that fails on many levels.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ooof. I don’t know what John Curulewski was thinking when he contributed songs to this album, but all of the exiled songs, they were all his (except for the “Hallelujah Chorus”, which is what the listener exalts when he finishes the record).

Not that the other stuff is any great shakes. Nothing rises to the prog / pop blend of “Lady” from their previous album. A couple of songs come pretty close but no cigar, and Dennis DeYoung’s prog exercises are bloated and showy-off for no reason.

This record set them back, and they were lucky to still have a contract after it. If I heard this as a record executive, I would have thrown it back at them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band has pretty much renounced this album, especially Dennis DeYoung.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Thank goodness, no.

GRADE: C-: Listen at your own peril.

Styx – Styx II

ARTIST: Styx 220px-Styx_-_Styx_II

TITLE:  Styx II

YEAR RELEASED: 1973

CHART ACTION: #20

SINGLES: Lady (#6), You Need Love

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, no, no

LINEUP: John Curulewski, Dennis DeYoung, Chuck Panozzo, John Panozzo, James Young. Curt Freeland

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A better record overall, with some tolerable prog and then there’s this one song that…well…

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Although I don’t think it would have been as much of a splash had WLS not played it every 20 seconds or so, “Lady” is the song that established Styx in the 70’s as a band that could straddle the prog rock / album rock divide.

Sure, yeah, there are some long excursions (“A Day”, “Father OSA”) and a cut of Dennis DeYoung playing Bach on a pipe organ (and hopefully cleaning up after himself when he was done), but there’s more to these songs than an excuse to play long solos. It ain’t actually half bad on the whole.

This record was all Dennis DeYoung and John Curulewski, as James Young didn’t contribute any songs. Despite that, it’s a lot more concise and rocking than their first album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: When the band struck gold on A&M in 1975, Wooden Nickel re-released this album and achieved the peak chart figrues above.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, one addition, called “Unfinished Song”. It’s finished, and not worth it.

GRADE: B: Not perfect, and sometimes a bit too windy and proggy, but it’s a great improvement from their debut. Oh, and it’s got “Lady”, too.

Styx – Styx

ARTIST: Styx  220px-Styx1
TITLE: Styx
YEAR RELEASED: 1972
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: Best Thing (#82)
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh, I hope not.
LINEUP: John Curulewski, Dennis DeYoung, Chuck Panozzo, John Panozzo, James Young
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First record from classic rock band with proggy tendencies. Um, they’d get better. Thankfully.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Right off the bat, Styx goes for the proggy jugular – a 13 minute four-part opus with man on the street interviews, a Copeland interlude, and Dennis DeYoung DeYounging all of the place with his synthesizer. Unfortunately, unlike their later epics, this one isn’t interesting or memorable.

The rest of the record are ‘normal’ songs. A couple stand out as something that could be keepers, “Right Away” and “Best Thing”. The big issue to me are the lead vocals – they seem strained, especially on the quieter songs. The harmonies are there – but the leads aren’t and the songs definitely aren’t.

If they didn’t grow up and become Styx, this would have been forgotten.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They were originally called The Tradwinds, then TW4, which they kept even after they became a quintet. They changed their name after they signed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C-: Two keeper cuts. One really long and unneccesary prog thing, which downgrades this. There’s good and bad on this album…wait…there’s OK and bad on this album. Be warned.