Edge of the Century (1990)


1.Love is the Ritual 2.Show Me the Way 3.Edge of the Century 4.Love at First Sight 5.All in a Days Work 6.Not Dead Yet 7.World Tonite 8.Carrie Ann 9.Homewrecker 10.Back to Chicago

 

In the late 1980's, it became apparent to everyone that messrs Shaw, DeYoung and Young, who all tried solo careers, couldn't pull off the magic on their own that made Styx what it was a decade earlier. Plans for a reunion of the "classic" lineup had been in the works for a few years, but the schedules of band members never quite gelled. DeYoung had a commitment in 1988 when Shaw was ready, and now that DeYoung was ready in 1990, Shaw had committed to the group Damn Yankees. At this point, the relatively unknown presence of New Jersey guitarest Glen Burtnik came in to replace the absent Tommy. Like Tommy's initiation several years earlier, Burtnik jumped right into the fold sharing writing credits on half the album and, like Shaw fourteen years earlier, even penned the title track of the album.

The one difference this time around, was Burtnik was not replacing an unknown guitarist in an unknown band. As good as Burtnik was in his own right, he was not Tommy Shaw. As Lawrence Gowen would find out a decade later, you could be just as good, if not better than the original, but the public is fickle. It just wasn't quite Styx without Tommy Shaw up there. It must be said, however, that Burtnik delivers probably the best work of the trio of writers here. No one could accuse Styx of not rocking after giving a listen to Burtnik's World Tonite or Love is the Ritual. The latter was actually released as a single, but sadly fizzled after barely cracking the top 100. With Burtnik at the mike, most people who heard the song probably couldn't identify it as Styx. The only place where Glen is less than great is on the acoustic ballad All In A Day's Work. that is mostly guitar and accordion. He wrote this one with DeYoung and it was performed live "acoustically" but unfortunately, it was no Boat on the River.

Perhaps one of the factors of the demise of Styx in the early 1980s was that the three writers in the band seemed to be drifting further and further apart. This is painfully obvious on this album. DeYoung seemed to be giving up rock & roll for good, and many of his songs began to sound more fitted for Broadway as opposed to rock. An example here would be the closing track Back to Chicago. It's not without its charms, but seems totally out of place here. Especially following JY's bombastic Homewrecker that rocks just as hard as anything JY has done either by himself or with his fellow Styxers (although in all fairness, it should be pointed out that DeYoung shares a writing credit on the song). It was also a little tiring that DeYoung seemed to always invoke his hometown in many of his songs. It's hard for anyone else in any part of the world to sing along to such personal songs that indicate a particular place. In what sounds like a desperate plea that Dennis couldn't write rockers anymore, they actually recruit and outside writer (not done since the Wooden Nickel Days) on the track Not Dead Yet. Yes, the song does rock, but with DeYoung at the lead vocals, it sounds a little forced and hoaky. DeYoung does do extremely well on some of the pieces here, in particular, the one smash from the album, Show Me The Way. In a weird way, this song became the anthem of the Gulf War that was currently being fought at the time of the song's release. Critics have often argued that without the War, the song wouldn't have made it. This is unfair. Actually, the War did make the song more accessible, but, hey, if the song stunk, no one would have been listening anyway..even if there wasn't a war. Another DeYoung vocal, Love at First Sight, did crack the top 30 and was a pleasant listen. The problem was the song got old in a hurry after hearing it the first fifty times.

The album did eventually go gold (500,000 units sold), and without Shaw in the band, that was a pretty big accomplishment. It was apparent to the picky public, that if Styx were to make a realcomeback, they would need their core lineup back. This didn't stop the band from trying. After this album and tour were done, they did put together demos of eight or nine songs in hope of laying down a new album. The songs never saw the light of day since their record label dropped them right after this release had run it's course.



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