Archive for Styx

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Toto- Isolation

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 17, 2017 by 80smetalman

It is probably the case that “Isolation” is most likely my favourite Toto album was the reason that it didn’t do as well as its predecessors in the charts. Some would say one reason why I like it more was down to the fact that it doesn’t have any cheesy singles like “Rosanna” or “Africa.” I never thought either of those songs were to begin with. That accolade goes to “99” in my opinion. Besides, “Rosanna” has a really cool guitar solo on it. Additionally, there are no songs on “Isolation” that would be called ‘party killing’ tunes in the realm of Wayne’s World.

Wayne puts ‘Any song by Toto’ as number 2 on his party killing tunes list.

Now, some may say that the single, “Stranger in Town,” from this album is slightly cheesy. Again, I don’t agree, I’ve always liked it. In fact, it is my second favourite Toto song. “Hold the Line” remains number one. If there be cheese, Toto do what they normally do and hide any cheese behind some good musicianship. There is plenty of that to be heard on the song and every other track on the album. “Stranger in Town” is the third track on the album following two rather good tunes. I also really like the track that comes after, “Angels Don’t Cry.” There is some good guitar work and it reminds me of late 1970s Styx or Kansas in the sense there are some crunching guitars backed up by some cool but not dominating keyboard playing. The same can be said for “Endless.” Even the more keyboard dominated tracks are done very well with some good guitar solos in them. I never bought the critics claim that “Isolation” was a Journey clone. Where did they get that one from?

The new event which occurred on this album was that it was the first one to feature Fergie Frederiksen on lead vocals who replaced Bobby Kimball after the band terminated his services. I never knew what lead to the switch in singers but I’ve never bothered to find out. Admittedly, I didn’t even know they had a new singer until I looked on the credits of the album. However, Bobby Kimball still provides backing vocals on three or four of the songs.

Track Listing:

  1. Carmen
  2. Lion
  3. Stranger in Town
  4. Angels Don’t Cry
  5. How Does it Feel
  6. Endless
  7. Isolation
  8. Mr Friendly
  9. Change of Heart
  10. Holyanna

Toto

Fergie Frederiksen- lead and backing vocals

Steve Lukather- guitars, backing vocals, lead vocal on “How Does it Feel”

David Paich- keyboards, backing vocals, orchestral arrangements, lead vocals on “Stranger in Town” and “Holyanna,” co-lead vocals on “Carmen”

Steve Procraro- keyboards, electric sounds

Mike Procraro- bass

Jeff Procraro- drums, pecussion

Bobby Kimball- backing vocals

Back in 1984, Toto’s “Isolation” album was my come down a little bit album after listening to three or four metal albums on the trot. The great progressive rock musicianship that comes out of the speakers when it’s played was the reason why. I didn’t think about it then but for me, I’ve come to the conclusion that after the demise of both Styx and Kansas in 1984, this album was the progressive album that carried that sound on.

Next post: Molly Hatchet- The Deed is Done

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1502997743&sr=8-7&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

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Great Rock Albums of 1984: Tommy Shaw- Girls With Guns

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2017 by 80smetalman

 

Styx guitarist, although back in 1984 it was former, Tommy Shaw’s first solo album is yet another reason why I don’t let one song influence me when I buy an album. It was the opening title track that was played by radio and while “Girls With Guns” is a decent song, it on its own, wouldn’t have been enough for me to buy the album. What influenced me to buy it was the songs Tommy wrote whilst he was in his former band.

The great thing about Styx in the 1970s and 80s was that Tommy, Dennis De Young and James Young all had the ability to write and perform great songs. While I don’t have a preference in this realm, the songs that Tommy wrote which I really loved were: “Too Much Time on My Hands,” “Blue Collar Man,” “Renegade” and “Man in the Wilderness” for starters. Therefore, like with Dennis’s solo album, I used the memories of the great Styx songs Tommy wrote to influence my decision to buy “Girls With Guns.”

Styx

Did my logic work out? My answer is yes. It’s true that the opener, title track and first single was always intended to sound more 80s synth but I did like it. It doesn’t really matter because each track after offers up something new each time. The very next track, “Come In and Explain” is very much heavy rock and Tommy does open up with his guitar on that one. Following that, he attempts a ballad with “Lonely School.” Now, I don’t want to knock his voice because Tommy Shaw can sing and it’s not a bad song but I don’t think that voice is made for ballads, at least on this song. Just my thoughts that’s all. However, he does go into more familiar territory with “Heads Up.” This sounds like his days with Styx and there is good harmonizing in the vocals. Plus, there’s the added bonus of him laying down a particularly cool guitar solo, so full marks here.

Pure speculation here but maybe he realized he wasn’t up for singing ballads because while “Kiss Me Hello” is a ballad, there is much more harmonizing on it and therefore a big improvement. Additionally, I have to give full marks to Peter Wood here because he does a marvelous job on the keyboards on this one. Tommy does end the song with a little guitar solo so full marks all around, actually.

“Fading Away” has a very progressive rock intro and then goes to a reggae sound. Now Tommy Shaw is no Bob Marley but his voice sounds okay on it. He does fuse more progressive rock into the song and the mix sounds okay. “Little Girl World” has a catchy feel good factor about it. It’s one of those songs you would play at a celebration or something and has some more good keyboard work from Wood. But there’s some hard guitars that do manifest themselves out of the background. A similar thing can be said for “Outside in the Rain” but the guitars are more noticeable, especially with one of Shaw’s solos on it. He is also accompanied by one Carol Kenyon on the vocals. “Free to Love You” is the love child between 1980s synth and traditional Styx. Elements of both permeate the album without either establishing dominance and with another cool guitar solo, Tommy blends them well. The closer, “The Race is On” is a decent progressive rock song with saxophones on it. Nicely done in a way that closes the album out on a good note.

Track Listing:

  1. Girls With Guns
  2. Come In and Explain
  3. Lonely School
  4. Heads Up
  5. Kiss Me Hello
  6. Fading Away
  7. Little Girl World
  8. Outside in the Rain
  9. Free to Love You
  10. The Race is On

Tommy Shaw, now sporting a mullet in 1984

 

Tommy Shaw- guitars and lead vocals, mandolin

Steve Holley- drums, percussion

Brian Stanley- bass

Peter Wood- piano, electric piano, synthesizers

Carol Kenyon- accompanying vocals on “Outside in the Rain”

Richie Connata- sax solo on “The Race is On”

Molly Duncan- saxophone section on “The Race is On”

Tommy Shaw followed Dennis De Young in releasing a solo album after Styx. While he’s not afraid to stretch out a bit on the album, he does remember that his guitar work is his main weapon as it was for Styx. However, he does have  good keyboards player in Peter Wood and that helps to make “Girls With Guns” the winner here. If I were to compare it to Dennis’s album.

Next post: The Kinks- Word of Mouth

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1501701674&sr=8-7&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Dennis DeYoung- Desert Moon

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2017 by 80smetalman

Journey wasn’t the only band whose members carried out solo projects in 1984. By the way, Steve Perry wasn’t the only member of Journey with his fingers in another pie in this year but that’s a story for another time. Styx had only disbanded less than a year before and by the end of 1984, two former members of the band had released solo albums. The first of these was by former singer and keyboards player, Dennis De Young, who came out with “Desert Moon,” in the middle of the year.

Styx

Like Steve Perry, if I allowed myself to be influenced by singles on radio or MTV, I would have ignored this album. The first single, the title track, while not a bad song, sounds a little too much like the very successful Styx single “Babe.” While a big hit for the band, “Babe” was never in my top ten of favourite Styx songs. Fortunately, it’s not the best song on the album which bears its name.

When I first heard the opener, “Don’t Wait for Heroes,” I was quite upbeat. Maybe Dennis was taking the progressive/hard rock formula that worked so well with his former band and incorporating it in his solo album. For me, this is the best song on the album. The next track, “Please,” tries to carry this on and does so reasonably but doesn’t quite come up to the opener. “Boys Will Be Boys” is a better track and could have been as good as the “Don’t Wait for Heroes” but Dennis goes a bit too new wave with it and I found that a turn off. After the title track, “Suspicious” is a very interesting track. It’s a definite progressive rock track, in fact, it sounds very suspiciously (yep pun intended) like 10CC. Still, it’s a very upbeat and enjoyable song, with some good guitar solos compliments of Tom Dziallo. It gives the opener a very close competition for my top spot.

My biggest criticism of “Desert Moon” is the cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Fire.” I know Dennis was a keyboards player and that song would have worked if done right but it wasn’t. He tries to make it too new wave or something and it just doesn’t work. The album ends with two softer ballad type songs. Dennis’s voice was well suited to such songs, although the former, “Gravity” transforms into a cabaret type of song, which doesn’t rock me until the guitar solo which does save it a little.

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Wait For Heroes
  2. Please
  3. Boys Will Be Boys
  4. Fire
  5. Desert Moon
  6. Suspicious
  7. Gravity
  8. Dear Darling (I’ll Be There)

Dennis DeYoung

Dennis DeYoung- vocals, keyboards, piano, percussion

Tom Dziallo- all guitars, bass, backing vocals

Dennis Johnson- bass

Tom Radtke- drums, percussion

Steve Eisen- conga, saxophone, conductor

Rosemary Butler- duet vocal on “Please”

Sandy Caulfield- backing vocals

Suzanne DeYoung, Dawn Feusi, Pat Hurley- additional backing vocals

Dennis DeYoung was the first former Styx member out of the starting blocks with a solo album. “Desert Moon” has some good moments and overall is an okay album. However, it doesn’t rock all the way through leaving it unbalanced. Still might be worth a listen, I’ll let you judge from my two favourite tracks.

Next post: HSAS- Through the Fire

Hopefully, there will be a new link for “Rock And Roll Children” soon.

Meanwhile it’s still available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Planet P- Project

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Planetpproject

Who says American bands aren’t capable of making good progressive rock? Jeremy Clarkson to name one but don’t worry, he does write a column in The Sun, as does some other berk whose name I can’t remember, who insinuated a similar claim. If either of these two gentlemen were to make such a claim in my presence, I would politely guide them to the likes of Kansas, Styx and Planet P. True, the first two bands incorporated lots of hard rock and in the case of Styx, almost bordering on heavy metal but both bands also produced some great progressive rock tunes in their material. As for Planet P, this band was as progressive as anyone and this is proven with their debut album “Project.”

Planet P was the brain child of former Rainbow keyboard player, Tony Carey. I was first alerted to their existence when I heard several tracks from the album played on a rate an album radio programme. It wasn’t the hard rock/metal that I was now a devoted disciple of but I liked it.

The album opens with a bit of space rock, in the form of “Static.” It sounds enough like Pink Floyd that some people made comparisons to that band. It is a little trippy but it does haul your ears in for the rest of the album. Track two, “King For a Day” could have been released as a single. It is one of those songs capable of uniting both progressive purists and metalheads with its catchy melody and lyrics. The next few tracks are good progressive rock tracks and “I Won’t Wake Up” is very good. Then comes the song they did release as a single, “Why Me.” That is a very good song and the fact that it got to number four on the mainstream hot tracks bears testimony of this. However, the album doesn’t rest on the single. The very next track, “Power Tools” is my favourite track on this album. It is the closest they come to hard rock but it’s a catchy upbeat song.

“Send It In a Letter” is more experimental progressive rock. Great use of synthesizers are made here. It’s another space rock sounding song. “Adam and Eve” combines the best of progressive, space and hard rock and does it very well. It doesn’t settle down in one of those said genres for very long before one of the others hits you like a ton of bricks.

Before Planet P, I always knew Tony Carey to be a good keyboards player from his Rainbow days but had little experience of him as a singer. His vocals are more than sufficient on “Project.” He even harmonizes well on the song he doesn’t sing lead. Furthermore, he managed to put together a great band to back him up. Well done to Tony and Planet P!

Track Listing:

  1. Static
  2. King For a Day
  3. I Won’t Wake Up
  4. Top of the World
  5. Armageddon
  6. Tranquility Base (Only available on CD and cassette)
  7. Why Me
  8. Power Tools
  9. Send It In a Letter
  10. Only You and Me
  11. Ruby (Only available on CD and cassette)
Planet P

Planet P

Tony Carey- lead and backing vocals, keyboards, bass, acoustic guitar

David Thomas- lead vocals on “Only You and Me”

Johan Daansen- guitar

Robert Musenpichler- guitar

Helmut Bibl- guitar

Hartmut Pfannmeuller- drums, percussion

Fritz Matzka- drums, percussion

Peter Hauke- drums, percussion

Planet P not only proved that Americans (and Germans) could make some great progressive rock, the “Project” album gained them a lot of respect from metalheads and prog purists alike.

Next post: Stevie Nicks- The Wild Heart

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1982: Styx- Kilroy Was Here

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Styx_-_Kilroy_Was_Here

First of all, according to Wikapedia, I made a boo boo in regards to this album from Styx. All of these years, I assumed it was released in late 1982 because I was stationed on Okinawa and later Mt. Fuji, Japan at the time and there were many albums released in the late part of 1982 that didn’t come to my attention until 1983. This was because it took time for news of new albums to make their way around the world and therefore, I assumed this to be the case here. Wikapedia states that the last album by Styx, “Kilroy Was Here,” was released in 1983. So, I apologize for the historical inaccuracy on this one.

For me and I have said this several times already on other blogs, “Kilroy Was Here” is not my favourite Styx album. It doesn’t even come close to comparing to the likes of “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight.” Styx definitely go for a more keyboard oriented progressive sound on this one. While there are some moments of the more traditional hard rock sound they were better known for, there’s not enough of those moments. Even with the heaviest song on the album “Heavy Metal Poisoning,” they hold back on it. The song should have been a straight forward bang your head and beat your chest rocker but sadly, it doesn’t quite come up to the mark. When I first heard the song, I thought it was an anti- heavy metal song but listening to the lyrics more closely, it rips on those who are anti- metal and would love nothing more to see it gone. Therefore, the song redeems itself a little here.

“Just Get Through This” is another song which goes along in the traditional sense of Styx but only because it is one of those that starts off with a soft piano and keyboard before a heavy guitar kicks in and the guitar solo also reminds me of better days. “Don’t Let It End” is another song that is more the Styx I had known and loved before that. However, I must say, if I was one those type of people who buy or not buy an album based on the single, then I would not have bought this album. “Mr Roboto” has never impressed me. Saying all this and in spite of my moaning about “Kilroy Was Here” not being hard rock enough, which it’s not, the album is not a disaster. There are enough good moments on here to make the listening enjoyable but nothing more.

Track Listing:

1. Mr Roboto

2. Cold War

3. Don’t Let It End

4. High Time

5. Heavy Metal Poisoning

6. Just Get Through This

7. Double Life

8. Haven’t We Been Here Before

9. Don’t Let It End (reprise)

Styx

Styx

Dennis DeYoung- keyboards, vocals

Tommy Shaw- guitar, vocals

James Young- guitar, vocals

Chuck Panozzo- bass, vocals

Jack Panozzo- drums, vocals

Another redeeming feature about “Kilroy Was Here” was I would eventually learn that the album tells a story about rock music being outlawed by a fascist government. The irony is that as the 1980s progressed, the fear of that happening was looking like a certain reality. Styx would split up after this album and many would point the album as the cause. There was strife between Young and Shaw about how progressive the band should go but there were other factors as well. “Kilroy Was Here” might have been the end of Styx but it could never kill the legacy of great music the band left behind.

Next post: Jefferson Starship- Winds of Change

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Rock Albums of 1981: Styx- Paradise Theatre

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by 80smetalman

220px-Styx_-_Paradise_Theater

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

Styx

Styx

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

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

Great Rock Albums of 1980: Styx- Cornerstone

Posted in 1979, 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2013 by 80smetalman

Styx_-_Cornerstone

Like I did with 1978 and 79, I am starting off 1980 with albums that were released in the previous year but didn’t come to my attention until the year I’m posting about. “Head Games” by Foreigner was one and so was “Cornerstone” by Styx. The album first came to my attention in the February courtesy of what is probably their best known single, “Babe.” During that month, it seemed every time I would return to base via the back gate, that song was blasting out of the juke box in the bar across the street. I know for a fact that the bar in question was called The Zodiac because the bar next door to it, Dale’s, had mostly country music on their box, although they did serve a delicious bowl of chilli. As a result, I got to hear the song quite a bit and while on the subject, I promise that I won’t link every album between 1980 and 83 with my military experiences.

No band, with the possible exception of Kansas, was able to equal Styx in the art of fusing progressive rock and hard rock. Their previous two albums, “The Grand Illusion” and “Pieces of Eight” plus much of their earlier records bare witness to this. “Cornerstone” is more a lurch to the progressive side of their sound. Most of the album seems to follow the flow of the march behind “Babe” and their other single “Why Me” with the progressive sound. The one track that tends to be more harder rock is “Borrowed Time.” This is not to say that it’s not a good album, in no way is it bad and the guitar solo by Tommy Shaw on “First Time” reminded me of that great times of the previous albums.

Track Listing:

1. Lights

2. Why Me

3. Babe

4. Never Say Never

5. Boat on a River

6. Borrowed Time

7. First Time

8. Eddie

9. Love in the Midnight

Styx

Styx

Dennis DeYoung- keyboards, vocals, accordion

Chuck Panozzo- bass, vocals

John Panozzo- drums, percussion, vocals

Tommy Shaw- guitars, vocals, mandolin

James Young- guitars, vocals

When the album came out, many hard rockers were disappointed by “Cornerstone” for it’s more progressive sound. Some  rock historians say that this album began their slide into commericaldom. I don’t think so and I’ll argue the case in 1981. For me, it’s still a good album with a well known song that brings back memories. I wonder if The Zodiac is still there.

Next post: Pink Floyd- The Wall

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublshinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Froogle and Barnes & Noble and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London