Big Bang Theory (2005)

1.I Am the Walrus 2.I Can See For Miles 3.Can't Find My Way Home 4.It Don't Make Sense (You Can't Make Peace) 5.I Don't Need No Doctor 6.One Way Out 7.A Salty Dog 8.Summer in the City 9.Manic Depression 10.Talkin' About the Good Times 11.Locomotive Breath 12.Find the Cost of Freedom 13.Wishing Well 14.Blue Collar Man @2120


Never has there been a band that has tried to so vehemently to divorce itself from its past as the 21st century incarnation known as Styx. Since Dennis DeYoung's involuntary exodus, classic members Tommy Shaw and James "JY" Young have done everything possible to reinvent this band to their own personal liking. After several monotonous "live" albums, they did pull out one gem of all original material, 2003's Cyclorama. Rather than (unfortunately) deliver another CD of new material, the boys decided that the best way to further shed their heyday image was to put together a "cover" album of their influences from the 1960's - a growing trend among the classic rock crowd.

First the good news. They pull off this album flawlessly. The songs sound wonderful. There are many songs on here that sound just as good, if not better than the originals. Particularly memorable is the cover of The Who's I Can See For Miles which Tommy Shaw does a pretty good Roger Daltry impersonation, and, well, at the risk of sounding blasphemous, Todd Suchermann runs circles around Keith Moon. Likewise, Lawrence Gowen croons a pretty good John Lennon as the band belts out probably one of the best Beatle covers ever in I Am The Walrus. To top it off, they perform the track live. Not too shabby when they stay so faithful to the original off-the-wall psychedelic arrangements of the original.

The huge drawback to this release is the fact that these are the types of albums where a big name band re-records a bunch of classics and yet stamps its own sound on the tunes making them their "own". The problem here is that Styx doesn't have their trademark sound anymore. There's nothing on here that remotely hints of any of they band's styles during the glory days from 1976 - 1983. So when we hear "Styx" doing all of these golden oldies, it doesn't sound like the "Styx" that anybody knows, it just sounds like a "normal" band of over-the-hill rockers jamming in their garage to the days of Woodstock.

We must then ask ourselves, who did they make this record for? None of the teenagers of the early eighties that grew up worshiping this band will be familiar with more than 20% of what is featured here. I mean, how many high school kids of the early eighties ever regularly listened to The Allman Brothers or The Lovin' Spoonful? Anyone who was around when these songs were on the radio never payed much attention to Styx in the first place. Of course, Tommy Shaw does sound like Tommy Shaw and the same can be said for James "JY" Young (singing was never his strength, though). Perhaps that's why Lawrence Gowen comes across as the strongest on this release. It's still hard to assimilate his voice as part of "Styx", so comparisons are hard. He really pulls his own weight on I Don't Need No Doctor and even rivals DeYoung's classic tenor in a wonderful cover of Procal Harem's A Salty Dog

NOTE:I almost gave this review three stars until I noticed they put out another version of Blue Collar Man (you see, this one is a slowed down acoustic, blues version). From here on out I refuse to listen to(or review) any "new" Styx CD that's either Live and/or has Blue Collar Man on it.

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