Review Summary: Styx were the greatest "rock band" of all time.
There is one thing people seem to forget when it comes to the discussion of Styx, and it’s a very key point that essentially compounds the entire argument to one simple fact.
Styx made ***ing great singles.
Who cares if they only had one or two full albums that were good the whole way through, nearly every last one of their singles throughout the main part of their career was fantastic. Combining the outlandishness of 70s "prog", the bombastic nature of arena rock, and a pop artists sense for what makes a song memorable, Styx continually released grade-A hits until their final hours. Foregoing what some bands from their era like to do, including lame bonus takes or throwing in a new song to make the album a must have for old fans, Styx simply re-do a classic and supply 16 of the best pop tunes of the 70s.
Many of you may be wondering if I can keep a straight face trying to justify why songs like "Come Sail Away", "Mr. Roboto" and "Babe" rule. It's okay; I would wonder the same exact thing...if I weren’t totally serious. Styx were a strange band in that they are undoubtedly the prototypical cheesy rock band, that takes over the top and stands on it, but yet still have some modicum of respect from the musical community. Dennis DeYoung has one of the most recognizable voices of all time, and the band was very influential in helping to kick start the craze of synth-rock in the late 70's and early 80's (I am not saying this was a good thing).
Trying to discuss all of the songs would take too much time, and its Styx for god’s sake. I can't convince you through talk of musical prowess to get you to listen to this if you don't already enjoy the sweet crooning of "Lady" or "Don't Let it End". There are of course the rock anthems such as "Renegade" and "The Grand Illusion" which are still rock standards, and are usually played at least once a day on your local classic rock station. Then there are the songs that combine these aspects (Styx were obviously great innovators) like "Suite Madame Blue" (see what they did there") and "Lorelei".
There are, of course, three songs this record totally revolves around. The first is merely a personal favorite; "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" shows that while DeYoung may have been an egotistical prat and the demise of Styx, he knows how to craft an amazing moog solo. "Come Sail Away" is the quintessential Styx song and is probably the most well known, featuring a simple piano introduction and more soaring singing from DeYoung (Tommy Shaw, as brilliant as he was as the musical genius behind Styx, does not get much time on this record). There's arguably nothing better than when the whole band comes in to sing, "Come sail away, come sail away with me lads" and Shaw is soloing in the background. Except perhaps the...strangeness of "Mr. Roboto". While mostly its just an incredibly fun, yet horrible new-wave influenced tune, but when DeYoung finally reveals that he is in fact Kilroy, savior of mankind and ruler of the Rock, well, a tear comes to my eye.
Styx is pretty much a band for everyone. If you don't like their singles, you are either way too indie to appreciate a good time, or are probably a slightly confuzzled sea lion. As the kings of arena rock, Styx must have been too good to last past the greatness that was Kilroy Was Here
. However, they left an indelible mark on rock music, and these singles are the best indicator of why Styx are still remembered today. A great collection of songs, its unfortunately the only thing anyone really needs from Styx, as it collects the best songs from their best albums anyways (The Grand Illusion
and Paradise Theater
). Pick it up if you are any fan at all of Styx, otherwise...well...I'd still pick it up if I were you, if only because girls dig "Babe".