RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Styx – The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight Live (2CD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment

Rating: B

Back in November of 2010, the band Styx rolled into the historic Orpheum Theater in Memphis, Tennessee and jumped on the old, “Let’s record one of our famous albums and make a DVD” bandwagon. They had, however, a most brilliant idea that would separate them from the rest of the pack.  Why settle for one album when two would be even more of an amazing fan/band experience?  To make it even better they chose two of their most iconic albums to perform, the bombastic Grand Illusion and the hit sensation Pieces of Eight.

Now, everyone who knows anything about this band realizes that founding member, vocalist, keyboard player and songwriter, Dennis DeYoung, is not in the band.  Dennis is brilliant, but Dennis and Styx are no longer an item.  So, while many of these are DeYoung classics, they are performed on keys and vocals by Lawrence Gowen, who lives up to the challenge.

The only original member full-time with the band is guitarist/vocalist James “JY” Young.  Bassist Chuck Panozzo is an original member and makes himself known on the album, but for all intents and purposes, he has been replaced by ex-Baby Ricky Phillips. Tommy Shaw has been in the band since the 1970’s and, while not a founding member his vocals, songwriting and guitar skills and stage presence are a big part of the most commercially successful era of Styx.

Styx recorded the show, filmed it and released an amazing DVD and Blu-Ray of the concert in Memphis.  Now they are releasing the concert on CD.   

Both albums were multi-platinum selling successes.  The Grand Illusion was perhaps the most important album the band ever released as it boasts several of their classic tunes including “The Grand Illusion,” “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” and “Come Sail Away.”

Pieces of Eight featured many of the band’s most celebrated rockers including “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” and “Renegade.” 

What makes this CD so awesome, however, is hearing the band play the songs that were not FM radio staples.  The band pump out songs like “Superstars” that was never played live before, as well as album cuts and fan favorites including “Castle Walls,” “I’m Okay,” “Great White Hope” and “Lords of the Rings.” 

Heavy tunes like “Miss America” and “Queens of Spades” are blasted out at maximum capacity as well.

Styx may not be writing and releasing original albums anymore, but they are one hell of a live band.   

Sure, it would be peachy to have Dennis DeYoung there, but that just ain’t in the cards, as of this writing.  So, think of this as the next best thing…which, by the way, still makes for a damn good live album. 

Track Listing:
Disc 1:
1.) The Grand Illusion
2.) Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
3.) Superstars
4.) Come Sail Away
5.) Miss America
6.) Man In The Wilderness
7.) Castle Walls
8.) The Grand Finale 
Disc 2:
1.) Great White Hope
2.) I’m Okay
3.) Sing For The Day
4.) The Message
5.) Lords Of The Ring
6.) Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
7.) Queen Of Spades
8.) Renegade
9.) Pieces Of Eight
10.) Aku-Aku

By Jeb Wright