Styxworld Live 2001

With the success of last years Arch Allies - Live at Riverport, a live album with genre-mates R.E.O. Speedwagon, the classic nearly-prog rock band Styx has released Styxworld Live 2001. When a band has been around as long as Styx and has gone through as many line-up changes, it's well-neigh impossible to pinpoint a definite classic lineup. On this CD, the only truly original member is guitarist James Young. Tommy Shaw (yes, the same one from Damn Yankees for all you toddlers out there) was added after a few albums and played a definite role in the band's best-known middle period. Gone is Dennis DeYoung, the creative force that forced the overblown rock operas on the rest of the band, leaving a sinewy, lean rock machine in its place. Also gone is the original drummer and, with the exception of one track, the bassist. Instead of a barrage of their most famous songs, a feat they already tackled with 1984's Caught in the Act Live, many of the tracks on this CD have never been recorded live. For instance, "Sing For the Day" and "Love is the Ritual" make their live album debut. Particularly interesting is the live version of "Half-Penny, Two Penny" from the classic Paradise Theatre, a song that until this tour had never been part of any set list. Songs never recorded by Styx before include "High Enough" by Damn Yankees and "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough", a song written by current bassist Glen Burtnik and popularized by the duet of Patty Smyth and Don Henley. In between all these treats are, of course, the classics one would expect to hear from a band of such longevity. "Snowblind" sounds just a fresh today as it did twenty years ago. The band puts in a timeless version of "Crystal Ball" and "Miss America" packs much more energy than it's studio predecessor. Closing the album is a ten minute version of "Come Sail Away" complete with an audience sing-along. Interspersed between the songs is a good bit of chatter from the band, in my opinion a nice touch for any live album. After three decades you might expect the excitement and energy to level off but the band tackles each song with the vigor of men just beginning their addictions. Styx still enjoys playing live and their excitement, energy and enthusiasm is well captured on this plastic platter.

This review first appeared in WhatzUp, June 2001.