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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Styx

Pieces of Eight

Review by Gary Hill

When I think back about this album, without digging it out again, I find myself tuning into the harder rocking side of the disc. What I had forgotten is that there is a lot of progressive rock built into this. Enough, in fact, that I think the disc fits into that category. I really love this album. It’s one of my favorite Styx discs and I think it does an extremely good job of marrying the band’s catchy, harder edge with a more pure progressive rock element. It really shows how influential Styx are on today’s progressive rock bands.
Track by Track Review
Great White Hope

Although this is a hard rocker, it reminds me a lot of something from Equinox. It’s got a great old-school Styx sound. Of course, you can also compare it to “Miss America” as the chorus is similar.

I'm O.K.
I like the little acapella opening on this. The song is very similar to the music on The Grand Illusion. I like the positive message, but the song’s a little generic. Still, it has its moments. The closing section both feels a bit like the Beatles and seems a little over the top in terms of its theatric arrangement.
Sing For The Day
This melodic number is tasty. It’s really very progressive rock oriented and I’d liken it to Yes and Genesis in a lot of ways. It’s one of the highlights of the disc, if an unexpected one. 
The Message
If the last track made me think of Yes and Genesis, this one is very much in keeping with a keyboard solo that might have been delivered by Keith Emerson. It has that sound, although it tends to lack the musical intricacies. 
Lords Of The Ring
This is a very dramatic and theatric piece. It feels a bit like some of Rick Wakeman’s solo stuff. It’s tasty, but a little over the top for my tastes. There is a great keyboard dominated instrumental section here that really serves to elevate the cut. 
Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
I’d say that this track’s lyrics are perhaps even more relevant in today’s economy than they were when the album was first released. It’s a hard rocker and one of Styx’ better known songs. It holds up very well after all those years. 
Queen Of Spades
I think this is my favorite track on the CD. It starts off in a very definite progressive rock fashion, melodic, powerful and pretty. It powers out into one of the hardest rocking jams on the disc. There are times when this reminds me of “Midnight Ride” from Equinox, but with a harder delivery. There’s a great keyboard dominated reprise of the more pure progressive rock influences that serves as the closing section, too. This really does a great job of marrying that harder rocking Styx sound with a progressive rock sensibility. I’d say that this song is another argument that while the 1970’s progressive rock was dominated by the influence of the English bands like Yes, Genesis and King Crimson, modern progressive rock is more in tune with American bands like Kansas and Styx
Renegade
Here’s another Styx classic. This is a killer rocker and a great tune. It holds up very well today and doesn’t really feel dated. 
Pieces Of Eight
Another powerful progressive rock piece, this is basically a pretty ballad. It works out into a harder edged version of itself and the vocal arrangement adds a lot.
Aku-Aku
This closing instrumental is another killer progressive rock piece.
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