Styx - Brave New World


Year of Release: 1999
Label: CMC International
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 59:52:00

I was really hoping that the new release by Styx would herald their return - that I'd be able to say "Styx are back with a vengence" or some other suitable hyperbolic statement. But instead the thought that comes to my mind is that they're locked in 1978 for the most part. Ironic isn't it, given the album is entitled Brave New World.

If you didn't know this was a new Styx album, you'd swear it was a reissue. This is more MOR than AOR, and more jazzy on the DeYoung tunes.

It's a comfortable fit, the playing here is great, the production is great and there are some beautiful melodies. There are some rockers here, too - "Everything Is Cool," "Heavy Water," and "Number One," but for the most part this is a mature Styx, aiming for an equally aged audience ... the baby-boomers really (say 35-45).

Where to start? Track one, "I Will Be Your Witness" is a Tommy Shaw/Jack Blades tune that could very well be Backstreet Boys and the like (not that I've heard more than snippets of the latter). And though I never thought it before, there are occassions here where Dennis DeYoung sounds like Billy Joel ...(or maybe I never noticed that Joel could sound like DeYoung). "Fallen Angel," another DeYoung tune, will make you think of "Best Of Times" at the beginning, but soon becomes a jazz-blues-country number ... I suddenly thought not only of Joel, but also of Garth Brooks. I like it. It's a straight-on yet cynical look at ourselves, and our expectations of others. But it seems a throwback, as I said, to the late 70s.

"Best New Face" is a toe-tapping tune with a bit of attitude, a strutting rhythm, where Todd Sucherman's drums are up front with Shaw's vocals. "Goodbye Roseland" is blues, pure and simple, bordering on gospel (and at a moments sounding like "Dock Of The Bay," though I'm sure it's accidental). "While There's Still Time" is a beautiful ballad by DeYoung ... in a way, exploring the same territory that he did with "Babe."

Shaw, in fact, contributes the majority of tracks here with eight (nine if you include the title track reprise), some alone, some with James Young, and some with Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees), and of those "What Have They Done To You" is the track that doesn't work for me. I'm honestly not sure, but it's either Young or Shaw who tries for baritone here, but it sounds very strange, off-speed, making the whole track off-kilter.

DeYoung's contributions come out alright (and I have always liked DeYoung's voice); however, "High Crimes And Misdemeanors (Hip Hop-Cracy)" is an example, really, of ... welll, let me say that it's maybe not quite as cringing as some found "Mr. Roboto," but not one I'd hold up an example of either Styx today or DeYoung today. Okay, lyrically it a rather clever word and thought association that, like many of the tracks here, is a comment on how gullible we can be, how easily snowed, charmed, ... fooled, tricked, etc. we are and can be by those who have the means to do so.

So, what's the verdict on 90's Styx? They aren't back with a vengence, but, you know, I really like this disk, despite its strong leanings to the past. It's a different Styx, I feel. And even though the sound is retro, the freshness here, the fact that they have not traded in on their own past, that there aren't 90s versions of "Renegade," of "Come Sail Away," or whatever is a progression in a way. I could write a long thesis on this, but I won't.

If you like music, especially music with substance (and there's a lot of that here) then I can easily recommend Brave New World to you. If you are at cynical about the human species and the peculiar way we conduct ourselves, then I can recommend this to you. If you looking for an album that will change your world, that will change what you know about music, that will challenge you ... then you'll have to look elsewhere.


Tracklisting:
I Will Be Your Witness (4:31) / Brave New World (5:14) / While There's Still Time (3:53) / Number One (4:33) / Best New Face (3:36) / What Have They Done To You (4:33) / Fallen Angel (4:49) / Everything Is Cool (5:19) / Great Expectations (4:44) / Heavy Water (4:29) / High Crimes and Misdemeanors (Hip Hop-Cracy) (3:26) / Just Fell In (3:25) / Goodbye Roseland (3:49) / Brave New World (Reprise) (3:31)

Musicians:
James Young - guitars and vocals
Dennis DeYoung - keyboards and vocals
Tommy Shaw - guitars, keyboards, vocals, sampling, programming and sequencing
Chuck Panozzo - bass
Todd Sucherman - drums and percussion

Discography:
Styx (1972)
Styx II (1973)
The Serpent Is Rising (1974)
Man Of Miracles (1974)
Equinox (1976)
Crystal Ball (1976)
The Grand Illusion (1977)
The Best Of Styx (1977)
Pieces Of Eight (1978)
Best Of Styx (1979)
Cornerstone (1980)
Miracles (1980)
Paradise Theatre (1981)
Kilroy Was Here (1983)
Caught In The Act - Live (1984)
Classics, Vol 15 (1987)
Edge Of The Century (1990)
A&M New Gold Series (1990)
Fan Box Set (1991)
Greatest Hits (1995)
Greatest Hits II (1996)
Return To Paradise (1997)
The Best Of Times: The Best Of Styx (1997)
Lady: Encore Collection (1998)
Brave New World (1999)
Best Of Styx (1999)
Arch Allies - Live At Riverport (2000)
Extended Versions (2000)
Singles Collection (2000)
Styxworld Live 2001 (2001)
Yesterday & Today (2001)
20th Century Master - The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Styx (2002)
Cyclorama (2003)
Rockers (2003)
Come Sail Away: The Styx Anthology (2004)
Big Bang Theory (2005)
The Complete Wooden Nickel Recordings (2005)
Chronicles (2005)
Gold (2006)
One With Everything (2006)
Best Of Styx: Green Series (2008)
Legends Of Rock (2008)
Caught In The Act: Live (2009)

Caught In The Act (VHS) (1991)
Return To Paradise (VHS) (1997)
Arch Allies: Live At Riverport (VHS/DVD) (2000)
20th Century Masters - The DVD Collection: The Best Of Styx (DVD) (2004)
One With Everything (DVD) (2006)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: August 17th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Score:
Artist website: www.styxworld.com
Hits: 991
Language: english

  

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