There 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.
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”.
Styx 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”
The 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”
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 (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 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”
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 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 (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.