Friday, September 25, 2009

10 albums a day #50

- Styx (1972, LP)
- Styx II (1972, LP; later repackaged as Lady)
- The Serpent is Rising (1973, LP; later repackaged as Serpent)
- Man of Miracles (1974, LP; later repackaged as Miracles)
- Equinox (1975, LP)
- Crystal Ball (1976, LP)
- The Grand Illusion (1977, CD)
- Pieces of Eight (1978, CD)
- Cornerstone (1979, LP)
- Paradise Theater (1980, CD)
- Kilroy Was Here (1983, LP)

What can I say about Styx? Really. I'm trying to think of something. They were my Official Favorite Band from 1980 to '84 or maybe '85.

Cogent reasons I like(d) Styx:
1. Multi-part vocal harmonies.
2. Use of electronics.
3. Uh...I thought had a third reason but I can't think of it now. Must not have been all that good.

The first purchase was Paradise Theater as a new release; this was just when I was beginning to listen to rock music. Following that were the three albums previous to it. All four of these were originally bought on cassette, then later as the tapes started wearing out I bought the records, and much, much later I got the CD for some of them.

The cover art for their first four albums are the original covers from when they were on the Wooden Nickel label; the records I have were later reprints from...uh...maybe RCA or something, I don't remember but the cover art is really lame so I'm using the old ones. Also I'm having trouble finding any graphics of the reprint art on the internet and I'm not going to scan those lousy, cartoonish album covers. I remember coming across a cassette called "The Best of Styx" in the ACU bookstore in '82 and was intrigued because it included only tracks from the Wooden Nickel times, their sound was quite different, and I had never heard any of those songs before. So being the fanatic that I was back then, I had those first four all special-ordered from Hastings the first time I got back home.

These days listening to Styx is partly nostalgia, but partly because I still really like their stuff. Even the old Wooden Nickel albums have some songs that I would count among my favorites. I also have their double-live album Caught in the Act and a compilation CD called Classics that is mostly redundant except I think it has a couple of live tracks that weren't released anywhere else (but I'm not sure about that). I didn't bother to rip that CD because of its redundancy with all the other albums.

I also have Dennis DeYoung's first two solo albums, James Young's first solo album, and Tommy Shaw's first two (or was it three?) solo albums, none of which I have yet ripped. I haven't even bothered to check in on the modern version of Styx. I know it just won't be the same.

I also bought several piano score books of their music back in the 80s, and at one time I was pretty good at playing "The Best of Times," "Babe" and a couple of other songs. I remember trying to learn to play "Snowblind," but it was really hard. Then I got a videotape of them in concert and saw that the bass line was being played by the bass, of course, while DeYoung played the synth line. "What a minute!" I thought. "Here are two professional musicians covering the parts that I am somehow supposed to play alone?"

Other anecdotes:

I do not have perfect pitch. But there was a time when I had "Castle Walls" memorized so well that I even had the starting pitch (a "G") learned. The song is in C minor.

When I college, we were drilled on recognizing intervals. We all used tricks to learn certain intervals. My trick for knowing the ascending minor 6th was the first two notes of the melody of "Castle Walls," from the words "Once" to "in." Most people used the theme from "Love Story" for the minor 6th, which probably works better because it goes both up and down.

Album count: 516.


  1. That's a nice anecdote about using "Castle Walls" as a mnemonic for remembering the minor 6th interval.

  2. "And don't sit down on the plexiglas toilet Ayeaaah!"