Thursday, March 29, 2007

Styx (1977)

When I started on this topic, I thought that there would be at least a few bands that I would be slightly embarrassed to admit I was once a fan of. But now, as I look over my final list, I realize that this is the only band of the 40 that I do not own any CDs by...records and cassettes, of course, but no CDs. I guess that's something of a commentary on their staying power in my book, or maybe an admission that this is the one that I feel the silliest about.

I'm not exactly sure how I became a fan of Styx. My guess is that I first bought the 45 for "Come Sail Away" and went from there. One thing's for certain...1977's The Grand Illusion was my starting point. I still consider this to be their strongest album. Personally, I preferred the second single, "Fooling Yourself", and a couple other songs, to "Come Sail Away". Another thing I know is that Kiss and Styx being one's two favorite bands was an odd combination.

In 5th grade, I recall listening to a cassette of 1978's Pieces of Eight on headphones in the library with Bill Iori, Dan Hickey, and, of course, my second oldest friend, Len. Little did I know that, post-high school, I would wind up standing with high school pals Scott and Beau, on Dan Hickey's doorstep, as Beau threatened him with a billy club for punching Scott's sister at a party. Dan pleaded with me that I knew him better than that..."You remember the kid who listened to Styx with you back in 5th grade. You know I wouldn't hit Scott's sister on purpose". Alright, he didn't actually say that, and I honestly don't think he meant to hit her, but he was an asshole regardless. Oh shit! I just remembered...that was the night that I fooled around with Julie (Scott's sister) on the floor of Debbie Smith's finished basement. I was pretty much a jerk to her after that, but I guess I was really uptight about the fact that I was 18 and she was 15. Over two decades later, she seems to have forgiven me.

Back to 5th grade though. When "Renegade" came out, we hated the intro to that song, but loved it when it kicked in as a full-fledged rocker. We probably had no idea what a "Blue Collar Man" was, and I'm pretty sure none of us aspired to be one, but we rocked it out to that song as well.

I hadn't yet hit my prog-rock phase, so I would never dive into Styx's older, pre-arena rock material. By the time I reached that point, there were much better bands in the genre to get into. I remained a Styx fan through 1979's Cornerstone and up to 1981's Paradise Theater, but Kilroy Was Here was definitely where I drew the line.

I actually think I still have a cassette of the post-Kilroy live album Caught in the Act kicking around somewhere, so it could be argued that I stuck it out right up to when they broke up in the mid-80's (before, of course, hopping on the comeback bandwagon in the 90's). Nevertheless, I'm sticking to my story that I'd had enough after the release of that lame-ass futuristic 2112 ripoff.

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