Finest Styx Songs: 20 Dramatic Rock Tunes

Few American rock’n’roll bands have married the earthy and the theatrical with as a lot success as Styx. Their finest songs are an exhilarating mixture of laborious rock muscle, progressive rock ambition, pop songcraft, and Broadway dazzle. Throughout the halcyon years of the late 70s and early 80s, a golden halo appeared to encircle them – different bands did the issues they did, however solely Styx may do all of them on the similar time.

Their journey started within the Chicago suburbs within the early 60s, although issues didn’t begin rolling till they modified their identify from TW4 to Styx initially of the next decade. Even then, it took 4 albums to seek out each their sound and an viewers. However when Styx hit, they hit huge – beginning with 1975’s Equinox, the band launched a string of albums and singles that elevated them to the A-list, taking part in out throughout sports activities arenas and highschool proms alike.

Take heed to the very best Styx songs on Apple Music or Spotify.

It helped that that they had three stellar songwriters, every with their very own recognizable id and voice. Keyboard participant and vocalist Dennis DeYoung was the grasp of the dramatic flourish, an old style song-and-dance man trapped in a rocker’s physique. Guitarist/co-vocalist James “JY” Younger offered the brawn and the ballast, anchoring Styx within the bar-rooms the place they earned their spurs. Fellow guitarist/singer Tommy Shaw – who changed unique six-stringer John Curulewski in 1976 – introduced twin pictures of melodic muscle and musical adventurousness.

But the alchemical magic that fuelled their success additionally proved to be their undoing. The drama of their music bled out into actual life, and by 1983’s Kilroy Was Right here, Styx fractured and fell aside quickly after. Subsequent many years have been punctuated by a sequence of reunions and albums. At the moment, Styx are energetic as soon as extra, with James Younger and Tommy Shaw nonetheless holding the tiller. The 2021 album Crash Of The Crown attracts a direct line again to their glory days, progressive inclinations and all. Styx’s golden halo nonetheless shines brightly in spite of everything these years.

The Rock’N’Roll Anthems

(Lorelei, Renegade, Blue Collar Man (Lengthy Nights), Too A lot Time On My Palms)

You may take the band out of Chicago however you possibly can’t take Chicago out of the band, and Styx by no means overpassed their rock’n’roll roots amid the grandstanding glory of their imperial interval. Equinox, Styx’s fifth album, was their breakthrough, and its lead-off single “Lorelei” is amongst their finest songs. The tune’s laborious rock soul comes courtesy of James Younger and the soon-to-depart John Curulewski’s intertwining guitar heroics.

Tommy Shaw’s arrival in 1976 accomplished Styx’s triple-threat frontline, although he really made his mark with “Renegade,” from 1978’s Items Of Eight. Escalating in each quantity and energy, this blazing, bad-boy-on-the-lam story options one in every of Styx’s biggest guitar solos and stays a dwell favourite to this present day.

For all their grandeur, Styx had an everyman streak as vast because the Lake Michigan shoreline. Shaw’s 1978 single “Blue Collar Man (Lengthy Nights)” was a heartfelt ode to the working courses that was as sincere and empathetic as any Springsteen quantity. They revisited the identical territory three years later with the New Wave-tinged “Too A lot Time On My Palms” – the sound may be sleeker, however the affect is similar.

The Theatrical Showstoppers

(Citadel Partitions, Come Sail Away, Items Of Eight, Mr. Roboto)

Styx have been the closest many 70s laborious rock followers would ever get to seeing a stage musical, and the extra grandiose the band acquired, the extra profitable they grew to become. They have been equally adept at rocking the entrance rows and belting it out to the gods, however it’s once they mixed each approaches in the identical music that the magic occurred.

Styx’s seventh album, 1977’s majestic The Grand Phantasm, was proof of idea. In longtime fan-favorite “Citadel Partitions,” they constructed a powerful laborious rock fable that by some means knitted collectively moonlit towers, medieval minstrels, and Greek philosophers. However even that pales compared to the identical album’s most well-known music. “Come Sail Away” is Styx in excelsis – a superb, bombastic showstopper that is still the best laborious rock music ever written about alien abduction. Even the South Park children tried and didn’t parody it, such is its OTT magnificence.

In contrast, the gilt-edged title observe of follow-up album Items Of Eight is relatively restrained – although it might be a beacon of shining theatricality by some other band’s requirements. However arguably Styx’s most melodramatic music – and definitely their most controversial – is “Mr. Roboto.” The cornerstone of 1983’s sci-fi-inspired rock opera Kilroy Was Right here, it was a singular little bit of pulsing, MTV-friendly robo-pop. It’s a world away, musically, from “Come Sail Away,” however it shares the identical caution-to-the-wind spirit that makes Styx so distinctive.

Styx’s Finest Ballads

(Girl, Babe, The Finest Of Occasions, Present Me The Manner)

Even in Styx’s pre-fame days, the band was ever-ready with a stirring piano ballad to steadiness out their extra baroque excursions. Take “Girl,” from 1973’s Styx II album. The primary of many love songs Dennis DeYoung wrote for his spouse, Suzanne, it delivered musical and emotional heft in equal measure, and belatedly gave Styx their first huge hit two years later.

By the tip of the last decade, Styx was often called one in every of laborious rock’s finest ballad purveyors, and the lavish 1979 music “Babe” gave Styx their first US No. 1. “Babe” stays a masterclass in late 70s tender rock songwriting – as does “The Finest Of Occasions,” one other big hit two years later.

“Present Me The Manner,” from 1990’s Edge Of The Century, was a prayer for steering in an unforgiving world. Its resonance intensified when America entered the primary Gulf Warfare simply two months after its launch, serving to propel Styx into the High 10.

The Progressive Epics

(Suite Madame Blue, The Grand Phantasm, Fooling Your self (The Indignant Younger Man))

Like many younger American musicians within the early 70s, Styx have been enamored by the boundary-pushing sounds of British progressive rock giants Sure and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Fairly than merely recreating the sounds coming throughout the Atlantic, they put a distinctly Midwestern spin on the style, stripping away the self-indulgence in favor of tight songcraft and all-American pomp and splendor.

That strategy is embodied by 1975’s “Suite Madame Blue,” the stately, six-minute suite written to mark America’s Bicentennial, although lyrically it was much less a chest-beating celebration of what the nation had been, and extra a melancholic reflection of what it was changing into.

The Grand Phantasm stands as Styx’s progressive rock high-water mark. The title observe switches effortlessly between pomp-drenched keyboard fanfares, easy pop melodies, and complex guitar heroics in simply 4 packed minutes, with a vivid treatise on the artifice of the American dream. “Fooling Your self (The Indignant Younger Man)” from the identical album matched it for scope, piling on the altering time signatures, semi-acoustic passages, and triple-threat harmonies.

After all, progressive rock is in the end simply one of many many faces of Styx. Whether or not they’re piling on the emotion, cranking up the heavy rock anthems or taking part in out their Broadway desires, there really isn’t any different band like them.

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