Styx: Regeneration: Volume 1 & 2

Archdeacons of AOR rework old material.

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’Hell!’ sang the Robot Devil in an episode of Futurama while planning his unthinkably horrible wedding. ‘Where Styx is a river and not just a band/Though they’ll play the reception if all goes as planned.’ The Chicago veterans’ forty-year career of Prog-meets-pop AOR has always irked the critical fraternity, but just possibly they’ve now hung around long enough to merit reassessment.

In 1979, while the UK decreed that anything non-Punk must be annihilated, Styx was officially the US’s most popular band among teenagers.

Regeneration is a 2-CD set of re-recordings of hits (presumably to funnel royalties towards the current line-up rather than ex-members). And there are a couple of Damn Yankees numbers, perhaps to appease Tommy Shaw.

While the glossy precision which rubbed radicals the wrong way remains, there’s a crunchy dynamic to their rock anthems which defies you to carry on moaning. They veer away from gushy ballads like Babe (not included), highlighting their stronger suits. The Grand Illusion is quite an arch, subversive song about the packaged nonsense that is rock fame, while Fooling Yourself takes a dig at angry-young-man clichés.

Is it feasible that these former evil pariahs have one or two of the best tunes?

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.