’Hell!’ sang the Robot Devil in an episode of Futurama while planning his unthinkably horrible wedding. ‘Where Styx is a river and not just a band/Though they’ll play the reception if all goes as planned.’ The Chicago veterans’ forty-year career of Prog-meets-pop AOR has always irked the critical fraternity, but just possibly they’ve now hung around long enough to merit reassessment.
Styx: Regeneration: Volume 1 & 2
Archdeacons of AOR rework old material.
In 1979, while the UK decreed that anything non-Punk must be annihilated, Styx was officially the US’s most popular band among teenagers.
Regeneration is a 2-CD set of re-recordings of hits (presumably to funnel royalties towards the current line-up rather than ex-members). And there are a couple of Damn Yankees numbers, perhaps to appease Tommy Shaw.
While the glossy precision which rubbed radicals the wrong way remains, there’s a crunchy dynamic to their rock anthems which defies you to carry on moaning. They veer away from gushy ballads like Babe (not included), highlighting their stronger suits. The Grand Illusion is quite an arch, subversive song about the packaged nonsense that is rock fame, while Fooling Yourself takes a dig at angry-young-man clichés.
Is it feasible that these former evil pariahs have one or two of the best tunes?