Paradise Theatre (1980)

1.A.D. 1928 2.Rockin' The Paradise 3.Too Much Time On My Hands 4.Nothing Ever Goes As Planned 5.The Best of Times 6.Lonely People 7.She Cares 8.Snowblind 9.Half-Penny Two-Penny 10.A.D. 1958 11.State Street Sadie


Paradise Theatre was the pinnacle of the band's career. The first number one album for the band, and a monstrous tour that broke several attendance records in cities all over the world at the time. People were finally taking notice in a big way. The band continued to expand their horizons, but unlike Cornerstone, they branch out in several different directions. It was later widely known that Dennis DeYoung had a passion for the theatrical stage in terms of the musical. Although his future endeavors would have mixed results, this album seemed to be the best balance between rock/pop music and the concept that would incorporate his love for the thespian stage.

"Tonight's the night we'll make history", we hear DeYoung croon over and over - yet we never get tired of hearing it. On the opening track he follows the remark with "as sure as dogs can fly". Alas, he's right. The American Dream, like the actual Paradise Theatre that existed in Chicago, would fall apart due to hard times (ironically, so would the band's career shortly after, but let's not digress). Regardless, the band rips into the first true rocker in some time, Rockin' The Paradise in to which we're warned by DeYoung that times will be tough, hang in there and be strong. We definitely needed to here more of this from the depressing atmosphere that haunted America during the late 1970's. Tommy Shaw doesn't drop the ball on his next song, his biggest hit Too Much Time On My Hands. Word has it that Shaw came up with the tune at the last minute - his heart still wasn't really in the "new" Styx that was continuing to evolve. But, hey, it's a great song.

The Best of Times is, like Come Sail Away, from The Grand Illusion, actually a pretty depressing song when listened to between the lines. At least we can hear hope. Horizons are spread further on tracks such as Lonely People and She Cares each complete with a horn section. As is DeYoung's Nothing Ever Goes As Planned that, like much of DeYoungs later work, seems to fit better in a musical than on a Styx album.

For the first time in many years, we have two songs by James Young. Even though they're at the end of the album, this isn't an indicator of lack of quality, they just seem to fit where they are placed. JY's (co-written with DeYoung) Snowblind is one of the most eerie pieces the band has ever recorded. An anti-drug song that along with Miss America has become James Young's trademark contribution to the band. Lastly is Half-Penny Two-Penny that has everything thrown in including the kitchen sink. It rocks, it marches, it's funky and above all it works. This is the closest Styx song not written by DeYoung to sound like it belongs in a show rather than a concert. But, hey, that's not a bad thing. After listening to this album, it's pretty obvious that Dennis was right in his thinking that the band could pull off something like this quite well. And as the last song segues into DeYoung alone again at the piano bellowing out the album's epilogue, A.D. 1958, we're torn between the sad tale we've been told, and the joy that Styx has given us with this masterpiece. History was made tonight indeed.

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