What's with the Styx hate?

Tommy Shaw and James Young are still rocking with Styx. DeYoung was replaced with Larry Gowan who is a Canadian artist. And I gotta say that I like most of their stuff from their debut album in 72 to the latest stuff they have put out in the last couple of years.

Yeah, there are some duds and yeah, most of them seem to belong to Dennis DeYoung. Dennis was a bit overly sentimental at times and he was the one heavily pushing the theme albums and the “rock opera” type shows.

Also (and this was my main problem with the group), Styx was boring. It was bland corporate rock like Journey or Chicago. Unless you were a hardcore fan, there was nothing particularly interesting about the group’s music beyond a few unintentional lapses into silliness like “Mr. Roboto”.

My reason for disliking them. Bland corporate rock with no soul or edge. To me, they might as well be Toto.

Well, I like Styx, and still listen to them. Check out their “Paradise Theater” album if you think you are only getting the superficial, MTV layer of Stygian Goodness…

Blue Collar Man is an awesome song! Yeah, I know the tune is really similar to Eye of the Tiger, but it’s like Eye of the Tiger with extra balls. And I’m even…gasp…A Beatles Fan.

I didn’t comment in that thread but the thing that jumps out to me is mostly that anyone who has a problem with the Beatles for being

has no business saying that they are a fan of Styx with a straight face.

Timing matters of course, but I would’ve thought a later career as a 7th grade music teacher was a strong possibility for any member of Styx.

Another point (also as somebody who likes Styx): a lot of popular musicians take flak not for their own quality, but due to their fanbase.

Huge bands, especially ones at the edge of a subgenre, are often seen as mainstream acts appropriating style and their fans seen as “posers” or just lazy. Even if the acts themselves are darn talented.

See also: Marilyn Manson and goths, NIN and industrial, 80s pop-metal and “real” metal.

I think a lot of Styx hate comes from people who believe that the band’s earlier albums are much better than their later ones, with The Grand Illusion being the turning point.

Good, then we can blame you.

Commence the Acts of Revenge!


I may be pummeled with disdain, but two of the songs from ‘Pieces of Eight’ are pretty damned good.
The Message and* Lord of the Ring* together are better than other songs from that year.

When I first heard it, I thought it was about Donaldson’s Covenant character,
Of course, I was a little bit high at the time, but even so.

Well, that’s a bit unfair to early period Chicago. Yes I was a fan of theirs as an early teen, until Cetera took over and drove the band off the cliff.

Since I’ve got most of their original (non-compilation) albums I guess I’m considered a fan. What I find interesting in this discussion is the repeated observation that Styx was a mindless sell-out band. In spite of the criticism, Styx rejected commercialization of their music for a long time, with DeYoung proudly noting in a 1990’s interview that there would never be a TV commercial with the adapted lyric “The Best of Fries” as a jingle and Shaw contrasting in a later interview that they would never be like Barry Manilow [who is well-known for his Pop ballads and having started as a jingle writer for many successful products].

I found Styx appealing not only for their considerable musical skill but for also for their habit, during the height of their success, of putting out theme albums with strong social commentary. That included Paradise Theater (mentioned before) and Kilroy was Here* – which basically jumped the shark and was a reason for Tommy breaking away.

An even greater appeal for me was the social observations in many of their songs – albeit not usually the most radio-successful of their singles. Castle Walls and Pieces of Eight are excellent examples of great social commentary that the average radio-listener has never heard, and both Renegade and Blue Collar Man (Long Nights) gain different meanings in the context of the album (Pieces of Eight) as a whole. FWIW I like Rush for their social commentary, as well, but Styx had better vocal harmonies.
Progressive Rock (e.g. ELO, ELP, Kansas, Yes, and even Styx) has been criticized by the subsequent musical splinters – Rap/Hip-Hop, Punk, New Wave, and Heavy Metal – as pretentious and showy, exceedingly and senselessly complex, etcetera. But this is kind of a sour grapes attitude: Since it is difficult to reach the technical levels of Progressive instrumental expertise, they reject that element. Rap and hip-hop either drop everything but the drums or substitute in sound samples – even forgoing actual singing. Punk and Heavy Metal emphasize basic power chords (but keep the harmonies and soaring vocals), while New Wave and Dance Music (aka disco-resurrected) rely on synthesizers and synthesized drums. [There are, of course, notable exceptions, but the generalization serves its purpose here.]

While the Album-Oriented Rock format was fine for 12" vinyl and great for selling whole albums to existing fans, radio stations typically ignored the key songs of an Album’s conceptual story in favor of mass-appeal singles. Thus, the programming managers’ selections would favor singles from the Pop end of the spectrum and give radio listeners the impression that the Progressive bands were pumping out mindless drivel with obscure references. The post-Progressive generation points to that ‘mindless drivel with obscure references’ in order to reject concept albums and musical story-arcs as pretentious intellectual snobbery. [I have faith that anyone smart enough to tune a radio is smart enough to notice and understand shared themes or references between two or more songs; if critics find that preposterous then they’re denigrating their own intellect.]

The latest DeYoung-less incarnation of Styx has mostly done greatest hits and cover albums (including concert captures) and Cyclorama wasn’t that incredible. While it had some decent tracks and even some social commentary, I would venture to say part of the album’s problem may have been lack of DeYoung’s influence in instrumental arrangements and sound-engineering quality and maybe even that their signature tri-tone harmonies are generally missing.
*As crazy as the idea seemed, the concept was not robots and prison ballads, but the future of musical censorship and right-wing totalitarian governments which DeYoung predicted correctly – the Moral Majority, Tipper Gore and censorship of lyrics, the media ratings board (now also the ESRB), and even political imprisonment in America.


Next phase, new wave,
Dance craze, anyways
It’s still rock and roll to me!
. --Billy Joel
. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
. From Glass Houses

narrows eyes

You again. I’m still out here…planning.

I liked Styx up through Paradise Theatre. Excellent mix of prog, rock and pop

The Grand Illusion…GREAT album.

However, Babe is an abomination and it’s creator must be punished.

I’m a Styx fan - but I loathe Babe.

Styx is great in part because with 3 singer/songwriters their songs have a lot of variety. Compare ‘Castle Walls’ and ‘Miss America’, both from Grand Illusion, for example.

I played Too Much Time In My Hands to a friend who has never heard of Styx. He said it sounded like Air Supply playing rock. He was right.

Bite your tongue! :wink: As you may know, Styx pre-dates MTV being around from almost the start of the 1970s and never needed MTV to make it. They were a true rock band making advances in defining American rock while the Brits surrounded us ina second wave of British invasion with Elton John, Rod Stewart, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Eric Clapton and Led Zeppelin in the 1970’s. (All talented, but not American)

Ok, the USA also had Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kiss, maybe early Bob Seger and what? Beach Boys? (Good for their genre, but not a serious, competitive, mega-rock band!). Styx could hang wth the best of them delivering stellar album after stellar album. Anyone who hates Styx or defines Styx by “Babe” alone does not understand what is Rock and Roll! Any hate for Styx is from misguided fools.

Hey, if it wasn’t for MTV, I wouldn’t know who Styx was! The 70’s were all about the Jackson 5 for me. First dance I learned: The Robot.