STYX – Regeneration Vol.1 (2010-11)
Legends STYX is like an endless touring machine, since last year, they are engaged in a once-in-a-lifetime tour, recreating two of their classic albums live: ‘The Grand Illusion’ and ‘Pieces Of Eight’.
After an extensive US leg, they’ll be heading to Europe in the summer with both Journey and Foreigner, with dates starting in June.
In celebration of this tour, Styx recorded “Regeneration Volume 1”, a seven song EP featuring new recordings of six classic Styx songs as well as one new track.
“Regeneration Volume 1” was originally penned last year as ‘available at gigs only release’, but now in 2011, if you go to the band’s site, you certainly can pick it up there too. It’s not available on stores.
The band today is made up of two true classic Styx members in James ‘JY’ Young (Guitars/Vocals) and Tommy Shaw (Guitars/Vocals), joined by long time members in canadian Lawrence Gowan (Keyboards / Vocals) and Todd Sucherman (Drums), and most recent addition – in 2003 – Ricky Phillips (Ex – Babys, Bad English).
Opening with “Grand Illusion” now sung by Lawrence Gowan and clearly with the pace picked up a little from the original Dennis DeYoung sung classic, the band still sound as strong as ever. Gowan gives a dynamic performance while the song features a slight variations in the synth and in the main guitar solo.
“Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” sticks to the original arrangements. The version offered here more closely reflects the energy and sound that Styx achieves in its live shows. Tommy Shaw certainly freshens up this tune and Gowan has the keyboards coming through as powerful as ever.
“Lorelei” was a minor hit for Styx the first time around. Voiced by DeYoung originally, James ‘JY’ Young takes the mic for the updated version.
It’s a pleasant surprise, as one might expect that Lawrence Gowan would have been the natural choice, but Young brings to “Lorelei” the raw exuberance that made the original work so well. Great Melodic Rock version.
“Sing For The Day” has long been a hidden classic better known to Styx die-hards but which never got a lot of play either on the radio or live. It’s a “carpe diem” song; a musical paean to following your dreams.
The subtle changes here won’t be noticed by most, but there’s a vibrancy to this version that cannot be ignored, and Tommy Shaw sings it with all of the passion he did when the song premiered in 1978. Shaw-Blades fans will love this new version.
Shaw breaks out the 12-string guitar for what has become his signature song, “Crystal Ball”. Once again, changes from the original are subtle, but where the original carried all the angst and uncertainty of a young man breaking onto the world at large, a knowing melancholy swirls in and blends with that angst in the current version. “Crystal Ball” turns out to be the most striking recreation on the album.
Next track is bound to be the most controversial track, “Come Sail Away”. While this is perhaps the song Styx is most known for, it is also the one that is most distinctly Dennis DeYoung’s. Simply put, there will be some fans who will never accept this version as a replacement from the original.
That being said, Lawrence Gowan does a terrific job in DeYoung’s place, both vocally and in the atmospherics of his keyboard work. While there will be detractors, this is a solid update of a classic song and fits well with the sound Styx achieves in concert.
“Regeneration Volume 1” closes with a new Styx tune entitled “Difference In The World”, a mellow rocker about the changing of perspective from youth to adulthood; the realization with time that we are responsible in some fashion for the world in which we live. It’s a great melody, voiced by Tommy Shaw, and it’s perhaps the first Styx song with a shot at real radio airplay in some time. A very commercial, friendly tune.
No band can lose 3/5 of its core (including one of the original songwriters and singers) without growing into something new. But Styx still rocks with all of the vitality and working class gusto that made them superstars in the ’70s / ’80s.
It was necessary re-recording some classics with the new line-up? I think the answer is yes.
This is how these classics are today, with an updated sound. Musically, the band has a more melodic rock approach. The vocal mix is a bit different, and Lawrence Gowan brings his own distinctive personality to the chair once held down by Dennis DeYoung.
The ever youthful looking Tommy Shaw and James Young are both in top form, while bassist Ricky Phillips (The Babys, Bad English, Coverdale/Page) is more than a competent sit-in for Chuck Panozzo, who still shows up and performs with the band from time to time.
“Regeneration Volume 1” is a great collection of superb songs with a new, interesting approach by these legendary musicians.
01 – The Grand Illusion
02 – Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) *
03 – Lorelei
04 – Sing For The Day
05 – Crystal Ball
06 – Come Sail Away
07 – Difference In The World [New track 2010]
Tommy Shaw: guitars and vocals
James Young: guitars and vocals
Lawrence Gowan: keyboards and vocals
Ricky Phillips: bass
Todd Sucherman: drums
Chuck Panozzo: bass*
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!