Jason’s Jukebox: Styx Worst to Best

logostyxThere are many bands that I feel are unjustly hated. One of these is Styx, which has been making great music since the 70’s. This time on Jason’s Jukebox, I’ll be ranking all of their albums from worst to best.

styx1 Styx  (1972)** Single: “Best Thing”

This album begins the “Wooden Nickel” era, so named because they were signed to that label at the time. It’s an all right debut, starting with “Movement for the Common Man”, a 4-part suite. This was more of a prog rock sound, but they didn’t stay that way. Best tracks: “Movement for the Common Man”, “Best Thing”.

styx2Styx II (1973) *** Singles: “You Need Love”, “Lady”

This is the first album not to feature songs written by James Young. (The album was later renamed Lady after Styx left Wooden Nickel) It’s a little better than their debut, and gave them their first big hit, “Lady”.  Best tracks: “Lady”, “Little Fugue in G”, “You Need Love”

styx3The Serpent is Rising (1973)* This is Styx’s first concept album, and the band considers it their worst recording. I won’t disagree. It contains a hidden track called “Flexible Plexiglass Toilet” that I think is their worst song. It’s good for a laugh, but I just can’t stand it.

Best track: “Krakatoa”

styx4 Man of Miracles (1974) ***1/2 This album has a different tracklist, depending on which version you listen to. My version had “Lies” on it instead of the re-releases that were on other versions. This was their final album on the Wooden Nickel album, and the best one from that era for me.

Best tracks: “Rock n Roll Feeling”, “Lies”, “Evil Eyes”

equinox Equinox (1975) ***1/2 Singles: “Light Up”, “Lorelei”

This was their debut on A&M, which had probably the best production value so far. It’s a blast and just feels more bombastic than their Wooden Nickel material. I think this is a great place to start for them, and it shows a lot of promise.

Best tracks: “Lorelei”, “Midnight Blue”, “Born For Adventure”, “Prelude 12”

crystal Crystal Ball (1976) ***1/2 Singles: “Mademoiselle”, “Crystal Ball”, “Jennifer”

This album has a recital of Claude Debussy’s “Clair De Lune” leading into the final track “Ballerina”. Dennis DeYoung wrote “This Old Man” for his father.

Best tracks: “Jennifer”, “Claire de Lune/Ballerina”, “This Old Man”

illusion The Grand Illusion (1977)***** Singles: “Come Sail Away”, “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)”

This is my favorite Styx album, with many fantasy themes. This is considered the album that launched the band into stardom. And I love that album cover.

Best tracks: “Come Sail Away”, “Fooling Yourself”, “Castle Walls”, “The Grand Illusion”

pieces Pieces of Eight (1978)****1/2 Singles: “Blue Collar Man”, “Renegade”

This is the band’s second concept album, with a theme about perseverance. It achieved triple platinum success, and definitely deserves it. Lots of great songs on here.

Best Tracks: “Lords of the Ring”, “Blue Collar Man”, “Renegade”, “The Message”

cornerstone Cornerstone (1979) ***1/2 Singles: “Babe”, “Boat on the River”

This album began the transition from prog rock to a more “arena” rock sound, as a response to the bad press they were getting on their first tour of England. The album is packed with ballads. While it’s a different sound from their previous work, I still like it.

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Styx Worst to Best”

Advertisements

One Faith, Many Paths: Chris Cairns

cairns

This week, I interview fellow autistic Catholic Chris Cairns, who also happens to be a member of the Knights of Columbus!

  1. How long have you been a Christian? I have been a Christian my whole life. I was baptized Lutheran as an infant, and was an Evangelical from the ages of 8-14, Lutheran from the age of 14-19. Then I joined RCIA.
  2. What was your childhood like? My childhood was fairly normal until my Dad died. He had brain cancer. I had to go through life without a Dad. I did have a good mom though. 
  3. Why did you join the Knights of Columbus? I joined the Knights of Columbus because I wanted to surround myself with good Catholic men and be able to promote Catholicism through my counsel.
  4. Can you explain what the Knights of Columbus do? The Knights of Columbus are the world’s largest charitable and fraternal in the Catholic Church. They help provide life insurance in case anything happens and your family needs support, and they help with pro-life and pro-family causes. The Knights were behind the persecution of Christians by ISIS being labelled a genocide. In Iraq, the Knights have pledged to help rebuild a village that was majority Christian.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Chris Cairns”

Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019 Nominees

Well here we are, another year and another big list of potential inductees for the Rock Hall. If I sound cynical, there’s a reason. I’m 50/50 on this list. I was really hoping for people like Grand Funk Railroad, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, and Weird Al to get the nod. What we got instead were a few people I want to vote for. (Really, Kraftwerk should already be there, and so should MC5) We also have some people I feel should wait their turn, like Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine. On the other hand, we have Devo, Stevie Nicks, and Def Leppard–now that’s something to get excited about.

But you’re not here for my complaints. You’re here for my quick breakdown of who to vote for. Well, here you go.

stevie 1. Stevie Nicks: I know what some of you are going to say: “Isn’t she already in because she’s in Fleetwood Mac?” And you’re right. But she also had a solo career, so she can get in twice. In fact, she can be the first female to do that if she gets inducted. I personally think she’s a shoe-in. As of this writing, she’s in 2nd place, right behind Def Leppard.

roxy 2. Roxy Music: One of the best glam rock bands of the 70’s, but you probably don’t know about them because they’ve gotten so little airplay on American radio (except maybe “More Than This” if you’re lucky). But I want these guys in. They need to be in because we need Duran Duran in there, and you wouldn’t have Duran Duran without these guys.

janet3. Janet Jackson: Her again? Didn’t we already have her on the ballot a year ago? And the year before that? Anyway, can we please move past the “wardrobe malfunction” that was over 10 years ago and forgive her? There are musicians with WAY more controversy that have gotten in.

prine4. John Prine: Every year, there’s at least one entry that makes me say “Who’s that?” And this year, it’s John Prine. I guess that’s what I get for not listening to country all that much. He’s a country rock star, and a pretty good one at that, judging by the songs I looked up. He’s a favorite of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Roger Waters. And he’s already in Nashville’s Hall of Fame as of 2003.

kraftwerk5. Kraftwerk: Here’s another group that I feel deserves recognition that you’re all probably scratching your heads about. Kraftwerk was a big deal in Europe, and in the rap scene here in the states. (Go look up “Planet Rock” and then “Trans-Europe Express”) But seriously, Kraftwerk is great. All that EDM you like owes their success to Kraftwerk.

devo6. Devo: Oh I can hear you guys now. “They’re a one-hit wonder! Why do they get a chance? What’s next, Men Without Hats?” Actually, Devo was more popular than you think in the 80’s. They had some big hits on the alternative stations, and that totally counts. And they fit the rock mold by being satirical. Not all rebellion is serious.

ll cool j7. LL Cool J: Here we go, the baddest boy in Old School rap! I can hear all you elitists saying Rap and Rock shouldn’t share a Hall. But if the Temptations, Hank Williams, Miles Davis, and Herb Alpert deserve a spot, then so does LL. The man totally rocks. He wrote some of the most sensual love songs, and his rap battles with Kool Moe Dee left smoke on rap’s battlefield for years.

MC5 8. MC5: The Motor City 5 is one of the longest-running punk rock bands in American music. Their song “Kick Out the Jams” has been covered by quite a few bands over the years. Musicians like Slash and Tommy Morello probably learned to play it as soon as they got their first guitars. Yeah, they deserve it.

defleppard 9. Def Leppard: Stuff the ballot box for these guys! They’ve endured quite a lot. Their drummer has one arm. They lost a guitarist to hard partying (and fired another one for the same thing early on, ironically enough). They had two big albums back to back, which was unusual at the time. What’s that? They’re at the top of the polls now? OK, you already know how big they are. Next.

cure 10. The Cure: Look, I’m not completely cynical here. I love The Cure. I already did an entry on Jason’s Jukebox where I ranked all their albums. Go read that if you want to know why this band must get in.

radiohead11. Radiohead: Um, listen Rock Hall dudes. Thom Yorke said if he and Radiohead ever get the nod, he’s not gonna show. So, I say don’t let him in. They’re too recent. They need to wait their turn. Are they good? I guess. *Looks out window and sees mob of Radiohead fans ready to lynch him*. Look, I’m only a casual fan of these guys, OK? If they had chosen a better opener for their career than “Creep”, I might’ve become a bigger fan. But I always think of their worst song. Sorry, everyone.

rage 12. Rage Against the Machine: I don’t agree with Rage’s political views, but I won’t deny they have talent. Will they be able to get Zack to get up on stage and do a show with them if they win? Probably not.

rufus 13. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan: Hip-hop loves this funk act, and Chaka Khan is a big deal in her own right. I think we should let them in. We already have Parliament-Funkadelic, and Rufus is pretty much along the same line. I know you elitists don’t think R&B deserves a spot, but I disagree. A lot of rockers wouldn’t be around if not for R&B.

toddrundgren14. Todd Rundgren: Todd don’t want to work. He wants to bang on the drum all day! Yes, this is the guy who made that song. He’s also a pretty good producer, working for such artists as Psychedelic Furs and XTC. Which means we can let him in again as a non-performer if we want.

zombies 15. The Zombies: What? They’re STILL not in? “Time of the Season”, go listen to that! It’s an awesome song! Seriously! They already should be in! In fact, most of these bands should be in. Fortunately, I don’t have to convince you. These guys are in 5th place.

The Rock Hall needs to improve, and these bands are a long way to getting those improvements. Let’s stop being cynical and complaining about the politics. Make your voice heard.

 

 

Jason’s Jukebox: Tom Petty

tom petty

Tom Petty died in 2017, so I made a New Year’s Resolution to write a Jukebox post for him. Although I’m a huge fan of his music, I’ve never gone through all his albums. Time to fix that, I guess.

debutom Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976) ****

Singles: “American Girl”, “Breakdown”

This is a pretty solid debut, despite it being so short (about half an hour). We get the excellent anthem “Breakdown” , which became so popular that at one concert, the whole crowd sang the first verse and the chorus before Tom could even start.

Best Tracks: “Breakdown”, “Anything That’s Rock n Roll”, “Strangered in the Night”, “American Girl”

you'regonna You’re Gonna Get It (1978) **1/2

Singles: “I Need to Know”, “Here Comes to Girl”

Not quite as good as the debut. Once again, it’s so short and it’s also pretty weak.

Best Tracks: “I Need to Know”, “When the Time Comes”, “Restless”

damn Damn the Torpedoes (1979) ****1/2

Singles: “Refugee”, “Here Comes My Girl”, “Even the Losers”, “Don’t Do Me Like That”

If you ask me, this is the album that belongs in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, not the debut album.  It has Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at their best. Benmont Tench became the band’s “secret weapon” with his multi-talented prowess as a keyboardist and other instruments. The album has many of his best-loved tunes. This is their first totally solid album.

Best tracks: “Refugee”, “Even the Losers”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Louisiana Rain”

hardpromisesHard Promises *** (1981)

Single: “The Waiting”

This album came around the time Tom Petty recorded his duet with Stevie Nicks, “Stop Dragging My Heart Around”, on her Bella Donna album. In fact, Stevie Nicks even has a guest appearance on “Insider”. It’s a great follow-up to the previous big-seller.

Best tracks: “King’s Road”, “A Thing About You”, “Insider”

longafter Long After Dark (1982) ***

Singles: “You Got Lucky”, “Change of Heart”

This was the first album to feature Howie Epstein on bass and backing vocals. It was also their MTV debut, with the Mad Max-inspired video for “You Got Lucky”. Epstein has an impressive debut.

Best Tracks: “You Got Lucky”, “We Stand a Chance”, “The Same Old You”

southern Southern Accents (1985) ***

Single: “Don’t Come Around Here No More”

This album was going to be a concept album, but it never panned out. The songs don’t really seem to fit together as concept albums normally do. But it’s not too bad otherwise.

Best Tracks: “Rebels”, “Don’t Come Around Here No More”, “Spike”

letmeupLet Me Up, I’ve Had Enough ** (1987)

Single: “Jamming Me”

This album’s pretty much buried these days. In fact, it’s the only album that doesn’t get a spotlight on the Heartbreakers’ first Greatest Hits compilation.  I think this one of the worst albums, so maybe we didn’t miss anything.

fullmoon Full Moon Fever (1989) ***1/2

Singles: “Free Fallin”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Running Down a Dream”

This is Tom Petty’s first “solo” album (although technically, some of the Heartbreakers do guest star). It’s a great album, and it even has his fellow Travelling Wilbury Roy Orbison making his final recording on it.

Best Tracks: “Free Falling”, “I Won’t Back Down”, “Yer So Bad”, “Zombie Zoo”

Continue reading “Jason’s Jukebox: Tom Petty”

One Faith, Many Paths: Haydon Cornett

aisling

For my latest interview, I chose one of the members of my Autistic Christians group, Aisling Cornett!

  1. When were you diagnosed as autistic?  I was diagnosed when I was twelve years old. My mom had read up on it and came to the conclusion that it was likely, so she took me to a psychiatrist. Psychiatry was a special interest of mine, so I was eager and fascinated.
  2. What was your childhood like? My childhood was “Christian”–sheltered, American, Southern, and emotionally isolated. No one understood me properly, including myself, so I spent most of my time retreating into books. I was ridiculed and excluded by other children, and my family mistakenly thought I was disrespectful , rude, and intentionally difficult. Nevertheless, my family meant well and introduced me to some wonderful books, movies, music, and food.
  3. How did you become a Christian? You told me you were a convert. I was raised in the conservative, fundamentalist church of Christ–an obscure niche of a group that was very focused on intellectualism and a literal interpretation of sola scriptura in about every way possible. They essentially had no spiritual experience whatsoever, and were quite legalistic. It was all about knowing bible trivia. I never felt close to God. I certainly didn’t know Him. Prayer was just a ritual you did so things would go well for you. I’m a very emotional person, and I was very unfulfilled, so in Middle School I turned to Wicca. I was a closet pagan and could see and commune with “faeries” and “nature spirits”, and I would cast spells to make things go my way. I was happy, but I also had undiagnosed anxiety that manifested itself in a crippling terror of Hell. This fear got stronger and stronger and was fed by things I found on the Internet about “end times philosophy and the “great tribulation”. I was terrified that I would go to Hell if I didn’t go back to some form of Christianity. I became a Charismatic and had a radicalizing, life-changing experience of the love of God as truly present and real. I tried to evangelize everyone I met at high school. After I graduated, I was looking for a church to go to other than my parents’, and I found a house church and an Orthodox parish. I kept coming back and visiting, and now I’ve discovered the truth of Holy Orthodoxy and have become a catechumen.
  4. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus? Probably St. Stephen. His love for the Lord and others is so inspiring.
  5. Do you have a favorite biblical passage? Honestly, I haven’t read enough Scripture to have a favorite passage yet. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to pick anyway.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Haydon Cornett”

Film Freak: A Wrinkle In Time

wrinkleSomeone once said in regards to movies based on books that the reason the book is usually superior is that the book is allowed to be itself. Maybe that’s why so many books, like Wrinkle In Time, often defy any attempts to adapt them. When this movie got Oprah Winfrey, I cringed. I cringed even more when it got a low score on Rotten Tomatoes. You see, I love A Wrinkle in Time. The whole cycle is one of my favorite series of all time. So I felt I had to give the movie a chance. What a mistake that was.

First, a warning. I am cutting the kids in the movie some slack. I know it’s hard to get good child actors, so I’m not expecting that. The adults, I’m not going lightly on. Anyway, on to the positives.

I didn’t have a problem with the multi-racial cast. Madeline L’Engle never specified what her characters’ nationalities were, so I don’t mind Meg being African-American. It’s a take I didn’t have in mind, but hey, if they want to mix up the races in the story, I’m fine. (I personally thought Meg was a redheard with an Irish accent, but that’s me.) Of the three women who played the Misses, Reese Witherspoon gave the best performance. The computer effects were fine. In fact, the visuals were mostly the only good thing about the movie. But when is Hollywood going to realize they can make the prettiest movie ever, but if it has no substance, it’s worthless?

Continue reading “Film Freak: A Wrinkle In Time”

Debunking Lies: Are Christians Copycats Pt. 1–Osiris and Horus

 

HorusPapyrus1Some years ago, a so-called documentary called Zeitgeist circulated YouTube, supposedly exposing the myth of Jesus. It said that He was nothing more than a copy of various gods from ancient mythology: Horus, Osiris, Dionysus, Mithras, even Krishna. So-called comedian Bill Maher, host of the HBO series Real Time With Bill Maher used it as the basis of his satire, Religulous.  But how true is this, really? We’ll start with the supposed connection to Osiris and Horus.

First of all, the date’s wrong. Horus was not born in December, he was born in October. And even if it was December, the Bible does not give an exact date for Jesus’s birth, because we don’t have one.

Second, Isis, Horus’s mother, was not a virgin she conceived him. She was impregnated as a bird flying over Osiris’s corpse. (Yeah, mythology is weird, but fascinating) The text of the myth implies a sexual union, not what we see with the virgin Mary.

Horus did not have 12 disciples. He had followers, yes, but followers are not the same as disciples. And they were more than 12.

Nor was Horus crucified. Crucifixion was not only practiced by the Romans, they also invented it. And their civilization comes AFTER Egyptian civilization, not before it.

Continue reading “Debunking Lies: Are Christians Copycats Pt. 1–Osiris and Horus”