Welcome Folk’s to a run of Styx reviews that are starting with ‘Grand Illusion’. I’m going to yack about a few of these albums (I own this and the upcoming Styx albums on vinyl) that I hope you will join along with me as I take a look at a band I have way more respect for now than I did back in the early 80’s.
Hey, I realize now that I shouldn’t judge a band on a sappy ballad. What ballad you ask? Keep reading…but the sappy ballad is not on this album!
Kinda sad that Styx is currently in two camps one being Camp DeYoung and the other being Camp Shaw and Young. Too bad they can’t get along and now they are sparring over the inclusion of ‘Mr Roboto’ added to the Styx set list! hahaha…65 year old rock dude drama….
OK! Enough of that….
Let’s do this!!!
Styx back in 1977 release ‘Grand Illusion’ an album full of prog rock plain and simple. The first side of this album is huge! Out of the 4 songs on Side A, three of them are bona fide classics. Those being the opening title track ‘Grand Illusion. The opening track has Lead Singer/Keyboardist Dennis DeYoung and the Styx guys laying down a huge wall of sound. Grand Illusion, the song builds up tears itself down and then rebuilds back up!
‘Fooling Yourself’ has Guitarist/Singer Tommy Shaw handling the lead vocals in a song that is awash in acoustic guitars and synths. ‘Superstars’ has Styx stretching their prog chops with vocal trade offs between Tommy and Dennis as well as big backing vocals that drive the song!
Even if you are not a huge Styx listener but a rock fan you have heard Come Sail Away. Epic track comes to mind as Styx once again make you the listener buy into the sound scape that is begins with the tune softly and it build’s back up. The chorus is classic. Big Riffs! Big Drums courtesy of John Ponazzo(RIP). Come Sail Away is the song that must have really launched Styx into the big time!
Side 2 begins with ‘Miss America’ that starts wth DeYoung and his synth but before too long the Guitars kick in! Kick in they do with the guitars and keys mashing up throughout the track! ‘Man In The Wilderness’ is a mid tempo track until the guitars of Tommy and James lift off. Man In The Wilderness has those elements of Triumph that I like. Great vocals/Great Guitar basically Great Everything!
‘Castle Walls’ is 6 minutes plus of all kinds of rock. You want prog mixed with classical guitar interludes mixing up with keys/guitar/vocals well kick back and good luck climbing the castle walls!
‘The Grand Finale’ ends the Grand Illusion album and ummm it just dawned on me that this is a concept album! Ah those silly Styx Geezers mucking about with my noggin! Well it worked and to be fair when DeYoung sings the line in The Grand Finale of …
‘Sail away superstars
Sail away superstars
So if you think your life is complete confusion
‘Cause your neighbors got it made
Just remember, please, please, it’s a grand illusion
And deep inside we’re all the same, we’re all the same’
That’s pretty obvious with about 3 song name drops in the last tune of the album!
This album is a great throwback listen. 39 minutes of Big Prog Rock as Styx was shooting for the stars with this album and it delivered them to the masses that we call the Public!
On another note…
I will say Styx back in 1977 knew how to package their albums. I mean talk about a bang for your buck back in 1977 if you were one of the few that bought this record the day upon its release!
Even my used copy has the Poster still intact along with the lyrics and more band pics! Styx knew the art of giving it all and as I move along you will see how they didn’t skimp out on some brilliant artwork and packaging!