1979 and Styx get’s on my music radar and that’s of course with the ballad ‘Babe’ which is Styx getting all sappy but I will talk about that later as I’m getting ahead here…
‘Cornerstone’ was my first dabble in a Styx album as at the time I was into KISS/Priest/Cheap Trick/QUEEN bands with Rocking Guitars yet Styx at the time had that somewhat but not enough sustainability to keep my young wondering metal mind at attention. So as quickly I got on the Styx Listening Bus I politely got off it….
Now here we are 39 Years later(YIKES!) and its time for a revisit shall we!
A few months back I came across ‘Cornerstone’ still sealed for $10. I grabbed it. I did not think twice! Let the past stay in the past! After all I’m a more wiser older dEKE’s I think?!
Well that’s open for debate I suppose….
Anyways Styx with Cornerstone makes one huge adjustment and that would be that the band were going for a more pop/rock direction. At the time (1980) when I heard this record I had no idea Styx was shifting gears as Cornerstone was the only thing I had ever heard by these guys! Still years n years away knowing they were a prog rock band….
Cornerstone opens with the Tommy Shaw opener ‘Lights’ which is full of Pop Rock and fluff keys that push the song along until the guitar solo which comes out of nowhere and ramps things up. ‘Lights’ where it succeeds is in the chorus! ‘Why Me’ has Dennis DeYoung singing the lead vocal which sounds like good AM Radio Fodder! Interesting guitar solo mixing it up with a sax solo.
Dennis delivers ‘Babe’ with that opening crooning line of ‘Babe,I’m Leaving…’ and from there its a tune that I recently read that this version on Cornerstone is the actual demo that Dennis recorded as a dedication to his wife. All Styx did was add a Shaw guitar solo and left at is! Big Time Hit propelled this album to sell a few million I’m sure but for me at the time I just wasn’t wanting any part of Babe! Kinda still feel that way …..
Shaw steps up with the brilliant ‘Never Say Never’ which has Styx finally finding their rock legs and melding a brilliant use of electric and acoustic guitars. Helps that the Ponazzo Brothers John & Chuck kick the song in the ass and keep the rock rolling in a Styx 1979 kinda way that it! “Boat On A River’ has Styx going in whole other direction with mandolins and the use of percussion working this tune and guess what! It’s Brilliant!
‘Borrowed Time’ leads off Side 2 which is kind of interesting song as you have chants of “Yes and No” right before a real wicked guitar solo from Shaw! Big vocals which will come as no surprise to anyone also spearhead this tune as well….
Have to admit in 2018 I had a hard time getting through the DeYoung composition of ‘First Time’ which is basically almost a followup to Babe from Side 1! Too much sap with these two tracks….
Guitarist James Young handles the lead vocals on ‘Eddie’ a song that kicks the schmooze of the track before and Young hammers down a great solo. Nice to hear the band ramp it up quite nicely on this tune!
‘Love In The Midnight’ ends Cornerstone with a mid tempo track that has Shaw singing lead vocals and its a decent end of the album song.
Cornerstone was an interesting revisit after almost three decades away from buying it originally! After diving into my previous post ‘Grand Illusion’ Cornerstone’s two biggest flaws in my humble one man’s opinion is in its production which is light weight in the sonic’s not enough ‘oomph’ in the production which was handled by Styx themselves! The second would be the two DeYoung compositions. (Babe & First Time) I get it you need the ‘Hit’ so to speak but man its a little to obvious and I see how DeYoung was the crooner of the band…
Still though I can go on about ‘Babe’ all day til I’m blue but the single sold and sold and pushed the album up the charts but it was just to fluff for me. Than and Now!
But good on you if you dig it!