Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Sailing Away

My devotion towards the rock/hard rock band Styx started thanks to The Sun Sawed in 1/2, Messrs Rose and Bobenhouse, and a very, very nice song called Come Sail Away. I find it quite weird that I didn’t hear a word about this band until my favourite singer sang the song on YouTube. On the other hand, I had never heard of bands like Kansas or Foreigner either.. Except for that I most certainly was familiar with them as place names/words.

Styx ended up becoming a quite big thing for me. Their wonderful harmonies, great melodies and very grandiose style that reminds of The Who and Queen were sure to impress me big time. The band has several excellent singers – Mr. DeYoung not being my least favourite.. The guy sounds like Freddie Mercury who’s swallowed a chunk of bubblegum – and occasionally that seems to be roughly the definition of “How to become Melody Freak’s #1 favourite singing voice”.

And the songs! The harmonic and melodic quality of Lorelei and Light Up will surely brighten up any pop fan’s day – let alone the romantic ballad Babe, it’s gorgeous! Once again, we get to hear those Allman Brothers guitar sounds that we love – check out Mademoiselle (not unlike Queen!). For a rock’n roll girl like me Rock & Roll Feeling is a new theme song. Another cool song is Renegade – also provably partially performed by The Sun Sawed in 1/2 on a TV show in the early 90s.. The Grand Illusion and Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) give you all the things a pop music fan searches for in a song – plus more. The most wonderful song, in my opinion, is The Best of Times. The title basically says it all.. Those harmonies, those melodies! On more than one occasion six minutes is not enough for a Styx song. I suppose there is a reason why this band is also considered progressive. However, when done properly, a two-minute intro won’t bother at all, and as a reward you’ll get some excellent melodies that you will never forget - definitely not a bad deal.

I was surprised that I didn’t seem to find a single familiar-sounding song in the band’s catalog. I tend to find at least one familiar song whenever I check out new (famous!) artists from the past. For a band this big it should be quite logical that there would be some familiar songs. For goodness’s sake, they have sold platinum with eight albums – and no one ever told me this band existed?

It took really long but eventually I found a Styx song I’d heard before. This is so silly.. The song is Boat on the River, and it has been performed in Finnish by schlager artist Riki Sorsa as Joki ('The River'). According to Wikipedia, it was actually performed already in the 80s by Taiska with different lyrics and name (Aamulla yksin). Can you believe that? To be honest, it’s not that strange.. Translated schlager has been a really popular concept in Finland in the past (and it still might be), although I don’t think there is a reason to translate music into Finnish. The original performance is the original, one and only. However, there is a possibility that someone might make a really good cover... Besides, almost everyone knows English these days – at least the young people.

Styx is still touring and even releasing new albums (the latest being from 2005). However, people seem to think it’s not the real Styx anymore. Original band members Dennis DeYoung and Chuck Panozzo, for instance, left the group in 1999. YouTube has many songs from the band’s 1996 Return to Paradise tour, a gig in hometown Chicago, with all living original members on stage. These are incredibly good-sounding live performances. Don’t hesitate to watch – it sounds perfect.

Come Sail Away
The Grand Illusion
The Best of Times
Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
Boat on the River
Show Me the Way

Official Styx website

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