Great Rock Albums of 1981: Styx- Paradise Theatre


REO Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity” might have been the first album I encountered when I returned to the States in 1981 but “Paradise Theatre” from Styx was the first album I encountered when I got home on leave. After being slightly disappointed with their more progressive “Cornerstone” album, I was more optimistic that, with this album, they would return more to the harder sounds of “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight.” My optimism became well placed when I heard the first single offered up to radio from the album, “The Best of Times.” The start took me back to the days of “Come Sail Away” and like those days, the song has that traditional Styx guitar solo compliments of Tommy Shaw. Then came the second single, “Too Much Time On My Hands.” That song reminded of the very popular “Renegade” from the “Pieces of Eight.” Those songs were more than enough for me to check out the rest of the album.

What I find interesting on the “Paradise Theatre” album is that Styx try to go back to their roots while at the same time, also try to branch out into different directions. First there are the more traditional Styx tracks like the two already mentioned plus the very memorable “Snowblind,” “Rockin’ In Paradise” and “Halfpenny, Two-Penny,” all cool rockers. Then there are the other songs which they incorporate saxophone solos from Steve Eisen. It’s easy to think “What the hell are they doing here?” especially from those in the “No horns in hard rock or metal” brigade, but in each and every song, those sax solos work. Most notable is the track, “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned.” That song works well on so many levels. All of that aside, I think the main element that convinces me that they are going back to their roots with this album is that Tommy Shaw and James Young work their magic on each and every song save for the short opener and closer. They definitely demonstrate they still know how to bend a six string and as it did then, it makes it for me now.

Track Listing:

1. AD 1928

2. Rockin’ in Paradise

3. Too Much Time On My Hands

4. Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

5. The Best of Times

6. Lonely People

7. She Cares

8. Snowblind

9. Halfpenny, Two-Penny

10. AD 1958

11. State Street Sadie



Dennis DeYoung- keyboards, vocals

Chuck Panozzo- bass

John Panozzo- drums

Tommy Shaw- guitars, vocals

James Young- guitars, vocals

After six months away from home while serving your country, two weeks of leave is something that is definitely needed to regain one’s sanity. I managed to do that and this album from the dependable Styx was certainly a great help. Some say that this album was a sort of last hurrah for them. I don’t know about that nor do I care, I just love the album.

Next post: Joan Armatrading- Me, Myself and I

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6 Responses to “Great Rock Albums of 1981: Styx- Paradise Theatre”

  1. I like reading your point of view from 1981 because my exposure to this music was way later on. For me a lot of Styx music forms just a big blur of songs that sound like Styx. I don’t have the perspective of where they were on Cornerstone vs where they went on Paradise. Very cool. Thanks for posting.

    As for me this album has my favourite Styx song “The Best of Times” which I made sure was played at my wedding.

    Two weeks’ leave after six months’ duty sounds like not enough time for me, but I’m glad you found this album.


    • Was The Best of Times your first dance song? It would be a good one.


      • You’re right it would have been! No, my wife is a big Beatles fan, so we did All You Need Is Love. Actually to be more accurate we did a medley of “Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler (from the Wedding Singer) which is a sweet song, that suddenly stops and goes right into the opening trumpets of “All You Need Is Love”!

        I have no regrets, we have Johnny Cash, Frank Zappa, Styx and Kiss at my wedding, I’m happy.


  2. I wasn’t sure how adding the personal touches in relation to music from this year was going down so thanks for the feedback. I’m also glad that I’ve given you more perspective on Styx for they were one of the top bands around at this time.
    You’re spot on, two weeks leave wasn’t long enough after six months away.


  3. Of all your reviews I don’t think any take me back in time like this one. Styx were the first band I ‘got into’ and Pieces of Eight was virtually worn out from being overplayed. Fooling Yourself from The Grand Illusion got me through a tough time at school, but the one song that stands out clear as a bell after all this time is ‘Lady’ from the Styx II album. One of those bands which make you ask where have the years gone?


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