Movement for the Common Man: Children of the Land/Street ... - Styx, DeYoung, Dennis
Right Away - Styx, Elefante, Dino
What Has Come Between Us - Styx, Gaddis, Mark
Best Thing - Styx, DeYoung, Dennis
Quick Is the Beat of My Heart - Styx, Mark, Lewis
After You Leave Me - Styx, Clinton, George
Reissue of their first album, originally released on the Wooden Nickel label, which was under the RCA umbrella. The fact that it includes such diverse fare as Copland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man' & George Clinton's 'Afte... more »r You Leave Me' alongside the original 'Best Thing' seemingly indicates the Chicagoans had a taste for experimenting and an unknowing sense of humor that vanished during their stadium rock dynasty of the late '70s & early '80s. Six tracks total. 1998 One Way Records release.« less
Reissue of their first album, originally released on the Wooden Nickel label, which was under the RCA umbrella. The fact that it includes such diverse fare as Copland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man' & George Clinton's 'After You Leave Me' alongside the original 'Best Thing' seemingly indicates the Chicagoans had a taste for experimenting and an unknowing sense of humor that vanished during their stadium rock dynasty of the late '70s & early '80s. Six tracks total. 1998 One Way Records release.
Styx' debut is a great introduction to a legendary band
Marc-David Jacobs | Portland, Oregon, United States of America | 07/14/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some of the previous reviews have not been kind to this old 1972 album. In fact, even when it was still new it was criticized for it's "overblown pomposity" amongst other things. However, "Styx" is, indeed, one of Styx' LEAST pompous albums. When one compares it's songs to "Come Sail Away" or "Mr. Roboto" (both favorites of mine), one can see just how gritty their beginnings were. By '72, the band had been around for almost a decade (they formed in 1963), gone through 3 incarnations (first as The Tradewinds, then TW4 and finally Styx [which they settled on only a few weeks before "Styx,"], narrowly turning down another suggestion: Kelp), rigorous touring and constant refinement. With the recent departure of lead guitarist Tom Nardini and the addition of new lead guitarist James Young, the band now had the perfect foil to the rhythm guitar of John Curulewski (who sadly passed away in February of 1988). Combined with the three original band members; Dennis DeYoung on keyboards, Chuck Panozzo on bass and John Panozzo (who passed away in 1996) on drums; the quintet was finally ready to record their first album. The eponymous release contains their most gritty, guitar-driven music ever, before they struck gold with "Lady" (released the following year) and started leaning towards more progressive, synthesizer-driven music. The album kicks off with a prototype of the concept-album format which would succeed for later albums like The Grand Illusion (1977), Paradise Theater (1981) and Kilroy Was Here (1983). The piece (which lasts for over 13 minutes) is entitled "Movement For The Common Man" and is a tribute to the working class which the band comes from. It consists of 4 parts, the first being James Young's "Children Of The Land" which has Young singing lead to a chorus by the considerably higher voices of Curulewski and DeYoung (who, with Tommy Shaw [who replaced Curulewski in late 1975], would take over lead singing duties in later years, leaving Young only one or two songs per album). The song also features an interesting percussive solo by John Panozzo and a keyboard solo by DeYoung, betraying the grungy exterior of the rest of the song, which itself gives way to "Street Collage." A rarity for Styx and a strange addition to the album, it is somewhat akin to Simon and Garfunkel's 1968 piece "Voices Of Old People," featuring the silent majority on the Chicago streets complaining about things from welfare to the B.O. of hippies. This bleeds into "Fanfare For The Common Man" (later done by Emerson, Lake and Palmer) written by famous composer Aaron Copland. Young sings lead again as DeYoung's keyboard plays on, giving way to DeYoung's first solo vocal on "Mother Nature's Matinee," a DeYoung-Young co-write. The song is a dramatic departure from the rest of the "Movement," featuring only a acoustic guitar, bass, sparse drumming, flute and piano along with DeYoung's beautiful vocals. This, however, leads back into the rhythm of the earlier parts of the "Movement" in an instrumental that goes for a while before finally exiting, with a flash. Next up is "Right Away," a cover song with vocals by Young again, but with a chorus featuring a magnificent vocal trio by Curulewski, DeYoung and Young which would soon become the band's trademark. The song is a nice switch from the extravagant rock of the previous piece, featuring some background organ music by DeYoung. "What Has Come Between Us," another cover song, switches to glam rock, this time with vocals by DeYoung (who also plays the piano on the song's wonderful intro [the album's best]), who joins Young and Curulewski for the chorus. At one point, Young and Curulewski pair off for the guitar interlude which rarely appears on their later albums. I consider this to be my favorite song of the entire album, next to "Quick Is The Beat Of My Heart" and "Right Away." Next is "Best Thing," then the band's pet favorite and another Young-DeYoung co-write. As the band's first single (backed with "What Has Come Between Us," it went to #82 in Billboard, helped immeasurably by the band's non-stop touring and popularity in Chicago), it is the best representative of the band's later work, featuring nice acoustic guitar work by Young and synthesizer by DeYoung (with DeYoung and Curulewski singing the end refrain). Then comes the true rocker of the album: "Quick Is The Beat Of My Heart," another cover (the album features the least band-penned songs of any Styx album) sung by Young, who does a wonderful enough job as to make one wonder why he wasn't allotted more on later albums. The self-destructive tune also features a nice ending echo leading into the sixth and final tune of the album, a cover of a George Clinton song called "After You Leave Me" (a suitable ending, I think). It contains both keyboard- and guitar-driven portions. The song features lead vocals by Young (who sings a marvelous middle 8) but finishes out with the trio of Young, DeYoung and Curulewski, truly a portent of things to come. The album is a auditory treat for any Styx fan out there, even though there are some fans turned off by the lack of more songs by the band (only 1 and a half out of 6) or by the domination of lead singer James Young over fan favorite Dennis DeYoung, but I guarantee that any Styx fan will immediately add this one to their collection as one of their favorites. This being said, let me also state that I do not in fact, own the CD of this, but, in fact, the vinyl album, which features a completely different cover (the one advertised here is from a rerelease in 1980 and features an "art deco" cover, despised by many Styx fans), which is many times better than the later one (but much harder to find on CD) and features the band surrounded by flames and a scene of, what else, the river Styx."
One of the best albums by any band ever
Marc-David Jacobs | 04/09/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I refuse to believe that these negative reviews were written by fans of STYX...I suppose if your a big fan of "babe" and "Brave New World" you might not go for STYX I. If you are a STYX fan this CD is the Jewel in the crown. If you like their Early work (Serpent is Rising, Man of Miracles, Equinox, StyxII) or if you like James Young you will love this CD. Don't listen to those narrow minded preconceived reviews, you will miss out on a real hidden gem. Believe me."
W. STEVENS | Cleveland, OH | 01/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a very good album! To be honest, I heard it for the first time in full today! I wasnt expecting the best! I became a fan of Styx after hearing songs like "Lady", and "Suite Madame Blue". But I never became a BIG fan until the masterpiece "Grand Illusion" came out. As I remember with casual listening, not all the early albums were that great! But the 1st Styx album is quite an accomplishment indeed! Every song is well written, well produced, and performed flawlessly! I can see now how Styx became the progressive rock giants they are! The potential and songwriting skills were there from the start. I dont agree this is an experimental albumm, this is Styx roots (the beginning of their trademark sound). All the elements are there, Dennis DeYoung's vocals, synthesizers, etc! To be honest, I enjoy listening to this album MUCH better than their 80's material after their progressive sound had become sappy polished "pop" styx. It's hard to believe that's what they became after the two masterpieces, "Grand Illusion" and "Pieces Of Eight". I also did not like "Cornerstone" and "Paradise Theatre" nearly as much as most fans who seemed to bite just for the big singles (catchy as they were). I appreciate more an album that is good as a whole (every song), with songwriting and quality production and the FIRST Styx album definatly has it. I wish I could hear some of the even older material Styx might have performed as The Tradewinds which I am sure would have been interesting just to hear!"
TBJ | Ohio | 11/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the typical listener, this may seem like a rather arcane addition to their music collection, but it does stand as the musical incarnation for what was to become the most popular band in the world within the decade. Mostly covering songs written by others, Styx shows a good rock & roll flair and indications of some of the great progressive rock that they would generate as their career advanced. The first piece of the album is a fourpart composition of their own titled "Movement For The Common Man." James Young's fast moving "Children Of The Land" is a hard-rocking call to be yourself containing the fulsome sound and multiple harmonies that would be part of the signature sound of Styx that lasts to this day. Like many of their songs, there is a message to it, an attempt to leave a little food for thought by encouraging the listener to be true to oneself and take a positive attitude, to "not wear a frown upon your face." "Children" then segues into "Street Collage," which is just that - a montage of apparently middle-aged people commenting on the faults of long-haired and unkempt young people. One comment is even directed at the recorder. The collage reflects the generation gap of the time and can even be taken as a bit humorous. The next segue is into Aaron Copland's famous "Fanfare For The Common Man" and then into the Dennis DeYoung sung "Mother Nature's Matinee." "Matinee" is sweetly played and sung and lighter instrumentally, bringing the entire movement to completion. The sound and sentiment of the entire piece are definitely reflective and evocative of the times. The merging of Copland's classic fanfare, the changes in pace, the street recording, and so forth are classic examples of typical progressive rock approaches that would be developed over the years by Styx and others of that genre. The other original, Styx-composed song is "Best Thing," which was released as a single and briefly cracked Billboard's Top 100 (it didn't rise into the top 40 though). For a long time, it served as their signature song. It contains those classic crisp, full harmonies and a strong guitar-driven structure. Unlike the movement, it is a straight-ahead love song. "Right Away" is a cover song that shows a bluesy side, something that Styx is not typically associated with but can indeed be found on occasion in their songs. Since they orginated in one of the great hotbeds of American Blues music - Chicago - this comes as little surprise. "What Has Come Between Us" and "After You Leave Me" are also cover tunes showing the same bluesy tendencies. "Quick Is The Beat Of My Heart" is more of a straight-ahead rocker featuring some galloping guiutar riffs. Though the album is heavy with cover songs, Styx's treatment of the music, both their own and otherwise, is well done and promises some great things to come. Definitely worth recommending."
Seriously underrated debut
BENJAMIN MILER | Veneta, Oregon | 02/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Even many Styx fans don't think too kindly to their 1972 debut. Perhaps the reason for that is 80% of this album was not self-penned. Regardless it's a way better album than many take credit for it. 1972 and the band was recording for Wooden Nickel (an RCA subsidiary), Tommy Shaw was not yet in the band (he would not join until after the release of Equinox in late 1975). John Curulewski was the guy responsible for guitar duty, along with James Young. Dennis DeYoung, aside from vocals, handles Hammond organ, synthesizer, and harpsichord. James Young takes most of the vocal credit here, although Dennis DeYoung does sing on "Best Thing", "What Comes Between Us" and parts of "Movement for the Common Man".
Anyway the album starts off with "Movement for the Common Man", at 15 minutes, it's about twice as long as any of their other epics like "Come Sail Away", it's of course, the lengthiest piece Styx had ever done. Here the band starts rocking with James Young handling vocals, then they switch over to something more jazzy, and Dennis DeYoung provides some wonderful fuzzed organ. Then you hear a recording of some guys in the streets of Chicago who grew up in the Depression-era basically complain about hippies and today's youth (I like the part where one of the guys say, "I know you're educated, but did your parents tell you to go dirty?"). They think the youth have too much money and time on their hands and that's the reason why they are the way the are (these guys perceived the youth as being spoiled and overpriviledged). After that, the band kicks in once again, this time a cover of Aaron Copland's "Fanfare For the Common Man", a song that Emerson, Lake & Palmer would later do a cover of five years later (1977) on their album Works Vol. 1. This version is obviously less electronic than ELP's version, with guitar dominating. The band then switches gears and gives us some great acoustic guitar work and synth work. The band mellows out, with vocals from Dennis DeYoung, before one of the acoustic guitar and synth themes kick in. At the end Dennis DeYoung gives us some swooping synth sounds, of the kind most commonly heard on albums like The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight.
"Right Away" is a more down to earth number, with James Young handling vocals. "What Comes Between Us", with vocals from Dennis DeYoung is a nice, mellow song, with harpsichord. "Best Thing" is the most Styx-sounding number on this album, and in fact, if I'm not mistakened, was a minor local Chicago hit. The band's vocal harmonies are fully intact here, and of course the vocal harmonies were a key to the band's later success. "Quick is the Beat of My Heart" and a cover of George Cliton's "After You Leave Me" close the album.
In 1980, RCA, obviously jealous that Styx was so much more successful on A&M than they ever were on Wooden Nickel reissued their Wooden Nickel albums with new covers which I thought were plain awful (including this one). Styx II was renamed Lady (not to be confused with compilation albums called Lady), and Man of Miracles was shortened to simply Miracles (with the cover of the Knickerbocker's "Lies" replaced by a Dennis DeYoung composition called "Unfinished Song"). In my opinion, the original Wooden Nickel albums have much better covers.
Anyway, Styx's debut is a great album and if you don't mind most of it is covers of other people's music, get this album."