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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Styx

Paradise Theater (Limited Edition Hybrid SACD version)

Review by Gary Hill

I’ve previously reviewed the original version of this album. This rendition is a new reissue that’s a high audio quality version. It’s limited edition and the CDs are numbered. This sounds much better than the original as far as I’m concerned. This is well worth having for the upgrade in sound quality. Since the album itself is the same as the one I reviewed (just a better sounding version) I’m including that original review here for the sake of consistency. That review follows here:

This is a concept album but the story line doesn’t really seem all that consistent. It’s also a fairly standard Styx disc that feels a bit like they were going through the motions. Still there are a few tracks that really standout here. Besides, the truth is, Styx is a good enough band that even if they are phoning in some of the performances, it’s still pretty good.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2014  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
A.D. 1928
This is a mellow Dennis DeYoung balladic cut. It’s pretty and perhaps a bit like the “Boat on a River” type of track. It’s an introduction to the album.  It segues straight into the next piece.
Rockin' the Paradise

Here we get a smoking Styx hard rocker that’s just plain killer.

Too Much Time on My Hands

This was one of the big hits from the disc. It’s definitely another classic rocker with some trademark Styxisms all over it.

Nothing Ever Goes as Planned

At times this feels to me like a harder rocking Supertramp. There’s a definite bluesy quality to the number. It’s got some of that DeYoung show time texture, too, though.

Best of Times

Another balladic cut, this is pretty standard fare for what Styx were doing in those days. It’s got Dennis DeYoung’s signature everywhere.

Lonely People

A sound effects interlude type thing starts this off and the band launch out into a killer jam from there – with a synthesized jazz band sound. They drop it way down to a rather funky sound for the verse.  They rock it out from there in a killer sound that combines that classic hard edged Styx sound with some rather funky sounds. This is probably the most proggy song on the disc. While it’s not a single – or a track that many might think of when they remember this disc, I’d say it’s my favorite piece on show here. It’s dynamic and diverse and just plain cool.

She Cares

From the best track on the disc we move to something that’s perhaps more forgettable. This is obviously a Tommy Shaw number – and he does write some great songs. Here, though, he gives us a piece that’s got a bit of a 1950’s texture to it. This almost feels more like something from Billy Joel than Styx. It’s not terrible, just not strong either.  Trouble is, it sits between two of the best cuts on the whole album.

Snowblind

I’ve always loved this song. It’s a definite James Young track and it is just plain cool. It works between a mellower dramatic movement and a nearly metal powerhouse jam.  Funny thing is, I know of three songs with the same title (Black Sabbath and Ace Frehley delivered the other two) and all of them rock!

Half-Penny, Two-Penny

This one is very nearly heavy metal. It’s always felt to me like it would have fit on Pieces of Eight quite well. It’s a bit like “Miss America,” too. I’d say you wouldn’t have to think long to chalk this up as a James Young composition. There are some cool proggy moments here, too.

A.D. 1958

They bring it all back home with this piece that seems to tie up a lot of the musical elements in one neat little package. We get some saxophone on this number and it’s a good track if not a standout. It serves as a nice bookend to the opening cut.

State Street Sadie

This is just an instrumental movement that ends the CD.

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