Styx was complete and ready for a level of success that would see them surpass the Stones, the Beatles, and Zeppelin by releasing FOUR triple-platinum albums in a row.
If I'm not mistaken, no other band had ever done that. Crystal Ball feels very similar to Equinox to me despite the change in personnel, but shows modest growth. Styx were now improving with each release.
They always had formidable talent but it took them longer than others to reach their creative peak and make albums that showed off their full ability. Crystal Ball is just one step below that peak. The title track was given to Shaw, quite a vote of confidence in their newest member.
It's a succinct but dramatic classic Styx track with light, emotional verses and a pumped-up, powerful chorus with those great vocals.
The song made a huge impression on one teenage girl who was struggling with suicidal thoughts and drug problems. She wrote to Shaw about it, and in turn he flew to her hometown and met her family, getting involved in an attempt to help this girl.
I thought that was a pretty amazing move for the young musician. The album featured a great single in DeYoung's "Mademoiselle" which was a strong example of early collaboration between DeYoung and Shaw. A sophisticated art-pop track with lots of pomp and a nice use of rhythm guitars to ground the song.
A special mention goes to the warm and sentimental "This Old Man" which DeYoung writes for his father. It is a loving tribute and another example of how family was important to him and perhaps another reason the band were targets for derision. While other rockers had wives and families that were important to them, not all were willing to risk being uncool to speak about them in such direct terms.
While it may have cost them some cool points at the time, the messages in many Styx songs resonate and hold up years later as positive and refreshing. In this song, the title track, and "Mademoiselle", you can hear the elements of where the band would be heading very soon.
Styx is a great American rock band despite what you been told by the misguided Styx-haters. Despite a few misses their 70s canon delivers an armful of amazingly likable works. Crystal Ball is full of great moments though it falls just shy of 4 stars for me. Still it is well worth investigating for fans of "America's answer to Queen" as some refer to them.
The band has always had memorable opening album tracks and Put Me On is by no means an exception even though it does tend to be overshadowed by Light Up and The Grand Illusion. The opening track is upbeat and featuring quite a few quirky moments, which is in line with the rest of the material.
Remember that I wrote that this record had no hit singles? Well, Mademoiselle was actually a Top 40 hit in the US and Canada but is completely overshadowed by the hit singles that came on the next couple of albums. I actually think that Mademoiselle works really well in the context of the album, making it a worthy album track independent of the fact that it was a single.
I don't really know why but the structure of this composition somehow manages to remind my of Seaside Rendezvous by Queen. Jennifer is another solid album track from Dennis DeYoung that works well with his quirky vocal delivery. The title track is probably the most famous track of the bunch and was the first solo songwriting credit for Shaw. It's a strong composition with great solo spots for DeYoung on synthesizer and Shaw on electric guitar.
After such great momentum, the album delivers its only weak track in the shape of a straightforward rocker Shooz written by Tommy Shaw and James Young. After the first five compositions, which ranged from great to solid album tracks, comes two compositions that transform Crystal Ball to the status of excellence.
It's worth to mention that these tracks are rarely performed live thus making them two of the band's most underrated moments. This Old Man is a moody piece by DeYoung that feels very pompous and almost symphonic in its style. This is another track where DeYoung shows his love for theatrical performance and I can easily see this composition being performed as a part of a musical with soaring vocal harmonies from the performers.
Crystal Ball is where the songwriting kicked into the next gear and turned Styx into a real contender on the late '70s pop music scene. The next two albums would really show just that. Highly recommended to fans of melodic art rock music. The album opens with a bouncy, lush, and dynamic rock tune "Put Me On.
Unfortunately the next two songs are throw aways; especially the somewhat insulting "Jennifer. Easily the best song on the album. Progressive rock hard rock. Styx: Crystal Ball at AllMusic. Retrieved April 29, Rolling Stone. Wenner Media.
Archived from the original on May 7, Retrieved June 20, The Rolling Stone Album Guide. ISBN Chuck Panozzo James "J. No refunds will be given on opened albums, unless damaged or defective. Original shipping and handling charges are not refundable, and you will be responsible for all costs associated with return shipment.
Sorry, this product is currently not available. Product Details 2. Shipping and Delivery 3. Return Policy. Product Details. DeYoungs distinct vocals and pop oriented material worked well against Shaws edgier material garnering the band important airplay on FM and AM radio stations. Shipping and Delivery. Conditions: All items must be returned as new in their original packaging, including all accessories and cables.
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