Sunday, October 9, 2011

Now Tommy Shaw

I was actually pretty torn between the first and second best Styx album.  I just didn't want to think the first one with the classic Styx line up was the best.  John Curulewski was the orginal guitarist with Styx.  He was the first one that DeYoung drove off.  That's not totally fair but they wanted to go another musical direction.  They replaced him with Tommy Shaw.
Chrystal Ball is a great album.  No "Concept" just album.  Released in 76 the styles border on Prog Rock and Straight Rock.  The opening track Put Me On starts in the prog rock catagory.  Its okay but a great song for headphones.  There was a whole area of music just aimed at headphones, Prog Rock.  Styx never fully went into this area but for their first few albums of the classic line up really came close many times.  The next track is the first of the Tommy Shaw era.  Mademoiselle is good rock song about an affair between a skilled older lady and a green young man.  A very good was to start your era.   Jennifer is the next track from DeYoung.  I like it, its  the exact opposite of Mademoiselle this time a younger girl and experienced man.  The key broads are very tight and the ending guitar solo goes right into the title track Crystal Ball.  I agree with Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw is one of the most underrated guitar players.  An awsome acoustic rock song.  And now a staple on AOR radio.  Shooz is another Shaw song and probably the only blues song Styx ever did.  Just a down and dirty blues song about the underside of the nitelife in Chicago.  This Old Man is a DeYoung ode to his father.  A sweet song, something DeYoung is know for.  Now Clair de Lune/Ballerina is terrific!  I love the prologue Clair de Lune, DeBussy was a wonderful composer and it leads right into Ballerina.  I have always admired and desired Ballerina's.  Something about the Ballet is just out of this world to watch when it is done right.  The song is about a man who loses his love to Ballet when she chooses it over him.
I love this album and listened to it all this week.  The next one will be rough cause between the next two on the list neither is a great complete album but I will let you know in a week.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

more things change they stay the same

The blog is back.
 I wanted to write about one of my first favorite bands Styx.  I have already trashed Kilroy Was Here and it deserved it.  The band outside of that had some great albums and I wanted to relisten to what my parents listened to over and over again in my teens.
I looked through the list to find the best album and it was tough.  Two albums rose to the top and I settled on Paradise Theater.  The last album before the Kilroy fiasco and their best concept album.  The concept album was started by the Beatles with Sgt Peppers, although it was really started by Zappa but in popular culture it was the Beatles.
The concept is the changing of times in America symbolised by the rise and demolition of the Paradise Theater.  Listening to the album it is odd how a lot of the themes are still relevant.  The rich getting richer and the buying of the political system, and drug issues and the classism in America.  Disenchanted youth with more time and no direction.  All problems in the early 80's and are still around.
The music on this album is really good too.  The band strikes a balance between Shaw's rock and DeYoung's broadway themes.  A great opening track with AD 1928 which brings the listener into the story but then starts the rocking with Rockin the Paradise.  Next is Shaw's Too Much Time on My Hands, still very true about people today with time saving features and then not sure what to do with all the free time and no general direction.  Next is the first of the three unreleased tracks and each of them are pretty good for b sides.  Nothing Ever Goes as Planed is a cute song about how life gets in the way of everyone's plans.  The Best of Times has to be one of DeYoung's best ballads.  He is know for writing these and I prefer this one to Lady and Babe.  It just strikes more of a cord with me I guess specially now with all the bad news in the media and how the world is going to hell I get the feeling that being with my wife things will be okay.  The next track is Lonely People once again another good B side.  It makes me wonder with FB and all the other ways we connect with each other there are still a lot of people who just don't feel a part of anything.  The song really reflects that well.  The last B side is Shaw's She Cares.  Now I am a huge Shaw fan but this just kind of is well a there song.  I don't hate it but far from my favorite.  Now for JY's two songs.  Snowblind is a great song.  I can't believe that people thought this song was about the devil.  Boy people can be stupid.  This is such an anti Cocaine song.  Nice rocking one too.  Then Half Penny TwoPenny JY's next rocker.  Very good b side and there is some touches of DeYoung's theatrics in it.  Some "acting" in the background pushed the story about the demo of the theater along.  I don't hate it and it does push the concept of how greed can push aside some great older things that should be preserved, but for me it is the start to the Kilroy mess.  Then to AD 1958 the summery of the album.
Their best and the last time the band really worked together.  I can still listen to it at anytime and enjoy and think.  Next time their 2nd best album Shaw's first with them