Under The Radar: STYX - CYCLORAMA (2003)

March 19, 2018

 

Line-up/Musicians

James Young / guitar, vocals 

Tommy Shaw / acoustic, electric & baritone guitars, mandolin, vocals 

Lawrence Gowan / piano, organ, synthesizer, vocals 

Chuck Panozzo / bass (4), backing vocals 

Glen Burtnik / electric & upright basses, synth bass , electric 12-string guitar 

 Todd Sucherman / drums, percussion, loops, percussive synth bass

 

Tracklist

 

1. Do Things My Way (4:57) 2. Waiting For Our Time (4:12)

3. Fields Of The Brave (3:23) 4. Bourgeous Pig (0:49)

5. Kiss Your Ass Goodbye (3:14) 6. These Are The Times (6:45)

7. Yes I Can (3:50) 8. More Love For The Money (3:47)

9. Together (4:46) 10. Fooling Yourself (Palm Of Your Hands) (0:39)

11. Captain America (3:53) 12. Killing The Thing That You Love (5:36)

13. One With Everything (5:56) 14. Genki Desu Ka (6:12)

 

There are very few artists or groups who get lucky enough to survive the ever changing-musical landscape and manage to carve a career for themselves in the music industry. If they do, it usually comes at a cost. Whether it be the reshuffling of band members, power struggles, the inevitable breakup and reunion, Styx just like Journey, Foreigner, Kiss &Van Halen, were no exception to the trials and tribulations of the music business.

 

After 13 years apart, the Chicago-based band's classic lineup of vocalist/keyboardist Dennis DeYoung, vocalist/guitarist Tommy Shaw, vocalist/guitarist James Young, and bassist Chuck Panozzo reunited for a successful greatest-hits tour in 1996. Drummer Todd Sucherman replaced John Panozzo, who died of chronic alcohol abuse that year.

 

The reunion would only last three years before tensions would re-emerge in the Styx camp. Depending on who you would ask, it was either the recurring conflict over the bands musical direction or DeYoung’s’ development of an ailment making him sensitive to light, delaying their 1999 tour. Styx decided to do the unimaginable and soldier on with new a frontman, replacing Dennis DeYoung with Canada’s very own Lawrence Gowan.

 

Styx managed to pull off a couple of tours and live albums proving that they were still a vital and vibrant live act. But without DeYoung's balladry and cinematic flair there was no way that this current lineup of Styx would ever record an album of original material, right…Wrong!

 

The band went into the studio and recorded for what would be their fourteenth studio album Cyclorama. The album was made up of fourteen tracks and was released on February 18, 2003.

I picked up Cyclorama as soon as could. I was curious as to how Styx would sound without co-founder and arguable the voice of the group, Dennis DeYoung. Personally, I wasn’t worried or bothered that DeYoung was no longer in Styx.  I always gravitated towards Shaws’ material, and Shaw was at a creative and commercial peak with his Damn Yankees, Shaw/ Blades & solo records. So, if anyone could keep Styx going it was going to be Tommy.

 

I remember that most of the critics were harsh on this release. But in my opinion Cyclorama is a solid effort from Styx. For the first time in decades the band released an album that was truly a collaborative effort making it the most listenable, consistent, and accessible release since Paradise Theatre. Highlights include acoustic/ electric rocker Waiting For Our Time, the Queen-esque Fields Of The Brave, the epic These Are The Times, the haunting Killing The Thing That You Love and the prog-rock masterpiece One With Everything.

 

There are a few clunkers in the set such as Kiss Your Ass Goodbye which sounds too much like a Blink 182 song and there some mini songs or segue ways that don’t really do anything to enhance the songs or the listening experience.

 

In my opinion, Tommy did the right thing by making a different kind of Styx record. It was a new time with a new line up. If Tommy and the boys would have made Return to Paradise or Pieces of Eight part two it would only have reminded the fans that DeYoung’s’ absence. They needed to prove that Styx was a new band that could not only move on but adapt and sound current.  

 

In my opinion the absence of Dennis DeYoung gave the band a new energy, vigor and camaraderie that hasn’t been heard or felt in decades. 

 

 The album is simply an undiscovered treasure that so deservedly needs to be remastered and rereleased and be given a second chance to part of your Styx collection.

 

 

 

 

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