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The Grand Illusion, Styx, 1977
Released on the 7/7/77, The Grand Illusion was Styx's 7th album. It features one of their most successful songs 'Come Sail Away'.
But just who are Styx? Well, Styx are an American rock band best known for their proggy-hard rock songs and their smooth AOR sounding hits 'Babe' and the aforementioned 'Come Sail Away'. From their 1972 debut they managed to mix hard rock, art rock and prog into a commercial sound that was also accessible for all. Just as American radio stations picked up on the Adult Orientated Rock (AOR) sound, Styx released 'The Grand Illusion' and it proved to be their great breakthrough.
Styx's sound is pretty dated these days, but rather than having one main front man, The Grand Illusion sees the entire five piece band taking centre stage. Loosely linked as a concept album of sorts, Styx hit their stride with this album that set the tone for bands like Journey's music of the 80's.
There are quite a number of similarities between Queen and Styx. You can certainly hear their vocal influence on many harmonies on this album, certainly on songs like 'Superstars' where the vocals and music blend simultaneously.
Dated, yes, but 'The Grand Illusion' is a bit of a classic. Musically excellent, but not everyone is going to appreciate the synth heavy AOR sound, but to me with trained classic rock ears - I loved it! The album is also musically dense and complicated, but also incredibly rich. It takes several repeated listens to actually appreciate its complexity and ingeniousness.
I also love the fact that the band combined so many different styles on the album. On one hand you can go from the art rock of 'Man of the Wilderness' and then into the hard rock of the excellent riff laden 'Miss America'. That track is actually my favourite of the lot. A complicated riff that is also really memorable, showing that Styx could rock out with the best of them.
Cheesy yes, but The Grand Illusion still has a lot to offer to the casual listener today. 'Come Sail Away' is a definite classic piece of AOR pomp rock that is just waiting to be rediscovered (lets hope not by Simon Cowell like he has done with Journey's similar 'Don't Stop Believing'.
For those interested, I've nabbed some Styx, Journey and Foreigner tickets for Wembley next year. They are doing a joint gig, similar to way Def Leppard and Whitesnake did a couple of years ago. I'm looking forward to singing along to 'Miss America'. Well worth investigating.
1. "The Grand Illusion" (Dennis DeYoung) - 4:36
2. "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" (Tommy Shaw) - 5:29
3. "Superstars" (DeYoung, Shaw, James Young) - 3:59
4. "Come Sail Away" (DeYoung) - 6:07
5. "Miss America" (Young) - 5:01
6. "Man in the Wilderness" (Shaw) - 5:49
7. "Castle Walls" (DeYoung) - 6:00
8. "The Grand Finale" (DeYoung, Shaw, Young) - 1:58
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Grand Illusion
2 Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
4 Come Sail Away
5 Miss America
6 Man In The Wilderness
7 Castle Walls
8 Grand Finale