Something about last week’s album of the week (Night Ranger) and a special I watched on VH1 Classic told me that I needed to cover a Styx record for Album Of The Week. I watching a live special that had the band performing the whole Grand Illusion and Pieces Of Eight records in their entirety and so for this week’s album of the week we will start with The Grand Illusion. The album was released on July 7, 1977 and it featured Dennis DeYoung (Keyboards, Synths, Vocals), Chuck Panozzo (Bass, Vocals), John Panozzo (Drums, Vocals), Tommy Shaw (Acoustic and Electric Guitars, Vocals), and James Young (Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals). According to DeYoung, the album was a concept record whose theme was “was the struggle to overcome self-deluding superficiality in order to affirm one’s genuine value.” The album sold over 3 million copies worldwide and peaked at number six on the Billboard Top 200 charts launching the band into super stardom. The album cover was an homage to Le Blanc-Seing which was a painting done by René Magritte and the cover was created by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse.
1. The Grand Illusion– The title track with it’s keyboard driven cadence like beginning is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Much like the way DeYoung described the album’s theme, the song’s lyrics definitely enforce that idea. The best part of the tracks is the harmonies, I love music like this. 5/5
2. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)– The song is very folksy sounding with the keys in the intro before the acoustic guitars take over and is a track that was written by Tommy Shaw about Dennis DeYoung. 5/5
3. Superstars– an interesting rock song from the band that is sung by Tommy Shaw about the rise to fame and the cycle that comes. What I mean by cycle is that a band rises to fame and a fan sees them and wants what they have and does the same. 4/5
4. Come Sail Away– This is probably one of the bands most recognizable songs and a top ten hit (number eight on the billboard Hot 100). The song has different tempos with the classical/ballad like first half with the keyboards and then a rocking second half with the boisterous guitars. 5/5
5. Miss America– A very synth/key driven intro that makes me feel like I am in a majestic place in the medieval times. Then out of nowhere it kicks it up a notch with some rockin guitars in a track that seems to attack the facade of the title of Miss America. James Young is on vocals for this track4/5
6. Man in the Wilderness– The tempo for the track is a little different than the ones before it because it’s a little slower and more melancholic than usual. I feel the song is about the pressures of the rise to fame and the loneliness that sometimes comes with it. 4/5
7. Castle Walls- Another keyboard driven track that DeYoung wrote for the record that is about overcoming your fears of failure and running toward your dreams. The instrumental section of the song in the two minute to three minute mark reminds me of the Halloween III score. 4/5
8. The Grand Finale- The last track on the record and it’s less than two minutes long an it repeats the line from the title track. 4/5
My Final Thoughts– The album is a classic that really pushed the boundaries of what could be done with rock music and concept albums. The band definitely flexed their muscles on this album and who knows if Dennis DeYoung was ever really satisfied with the success even after this one. I am giving the album 4.3 stars out of five for a final grade.