Sunday, April 10, 2011

Merc’s Somewhat Definitive Guide to Styx (abbreviated version), and Then Some

With mention being made of Styx in the comments recently, I thought it would be wise to direct the thoughts of those so inclined away from their more crappy albums before that became something of an issue.

And definitely, Styx released a lot of crap; though they tended to do so as a full album's worth of crap, instead of The Who syndrome, which entails releasing one or two good songs per album, with the rest of it being total crap (Who Are You being completely non-ordinary for that band).

At any rate, Styx was my favorite band at one time, back when I was 18 or 19. This is some of the good Styx that I remember:

Here are how the Styx albums break down according to Merc:

The Curulewski years:
Styx - B, about 2/3 good
Styx II - C
The Serpent Is Rising - A
Man of Miracles - F-, for use as a coaster only
Equinox - A

The Tommy Shaw years:
Crystal Ball - F
The Grand Illusion - A
Pieces of Eight - A
Cornerstone - B-

Crap you would never want to listen to:
The rest of Styx, as far as I know, is a lot of crap; the sole exception being Big Bang Theory. I haven't listened to all of these, and how could I possibly be expected to after Paradise Theater and Kilroy Was Here? Anyway, here's the rest of it.
Paradise Theater - F-, for use as a clay pigeon only - being a coaster is too good for it
Kilroy Was Here - F-, total crap
Edge of the Century - ?
Brave New World - ?
Cyclorama - ?
Big Bang Theory - A

Now, I don't sit around and listen to a lot of Styx these days. No, these days, it's Wishbone Ash. Before that, I was listening to a lot of Jon Spencer and Eric Gales, and before that UK and Gentle Giant.

But here's some really good Wishbone Ash for you. They sound a lot like Buffalo Springfield would have if they would have been more of a progressive rock band and less of a folk band. It would probably sound better if Rush were playing it along about the Caress of Steel days, but it's pretty good as it is without the crunch.

Hope you've enjoyed it.


lindsaylobe said...

At least the Styx stay in tune and manage to avoid singing flat or sharp with some good harmonies if not highly predictable – I note they finish presumably with few bars borrowed from Green sleeves –( September 1580)
The other piece has also has some good harmonies and diction with slightly better light and shade. Best wishes

Mercutio said...

I like the form of the first piece. The bridge comes immediately after the first verse. It just jumps right into it. It has enough changes in it that, where it drags a bit, it doesn't do so for long. And the Greensleeves bit works, somehow.

I like the texture of the second piece. That was common with the earlier Wishbone Ash.
I was listening to the Buffalo Springfield boxed set a few days before I wrote that, when the connection finally dawned on me. Odd, that.