Return To Paradise (1997)

Disc One 1.On My Way 2.Paradise 3.Rockin' The Paradise 4.Blue Collar Man 5.Lady 6.Too Much Time On My Hands 7.Snowblind 8.Suite Madame Blue 9.Crystal Ball Disc Two 1.The Grand Illusion 2.Fooling Yourself 3.Show Me The Way 4.Boat On The River 5.Lorelei 6.Babe 7.Miss America 8.Come Sail Away 9.Renegade 10.The Best Of Times 11.Dear John


Like the Greatest Hits release that vastly improved the previous "best of" collection of hits, Classics, this double live compact disc improves the first Styx live release Caught In The Act released thirteen years prior. When the band reunited in the summer of 1996 for a summer tour, the response was phenomenal. Classic rock acts of yesteryear were popping up everywhere giving fans a badly needed dose of old favorites. The Styx reunion was one of the most successful. Ironically there was no new release, only a tour featuring the favorites the fans adored. This collection of material pulls no punches and almost the entire show is featured in the same running order (to get technical, they played about one minute of Lights and Light Up during an acoustic set that are not here, nor is the one new song they played Little Suzie

It was not uncommon during the tour for the band to play in front of well over 15,000 fans and the band wisely chose the closing show in their hometown of Chicago to be featured here (a companion video was also released). The band hadn't lost anything in thirteen years, if anything they improved - possibly due to the less hectic stress schedule as to the first live release where the pressures and tensions were insurmountable. The only thing keeping this from being an "ultimate" collection was that the two hit songs from the Kilroy Was Here album were not featured on the tour (Mr. Roboto and Don't Let It End) probably since the songs brought back too many bad memories. One annoying aspect of this release is that the songs fade after the end of each piece - not the song itself, but the crowd noise, making it seem less like one real show.

The band had wanted to release a complete studio album, but individual commitments limited them to only composing three new songs, and as an added bonus, these songs are featured here. Dennis DeYoung contributes Paradise that was also featured in his full length musical he was working on at the time. The song is typical Dennis DeYoung (which is good and not so good), it's pleasant, pretty, and a "good song to play at a wedding" but features the same electric piano ballad like sound that tended to be synonymous with the later work of DeYoung. The opening cut on the disc is Tommy Shaw's On My Way, that is a nice rock tune. It's not as good as Little Suzie from Greatest Hits Part 2 but it's a nice continuation of the style of Styx that hardcore fans had been missing for so long. The biggest treat of the new material is Shaw's Dear John. What is not a treat is the circumstance surrounding the writing of the song. John Panozzo, the drummer and founding member had passed away during the middle of the tour due to a brain hemorrhage related to alcoholism. Panozzo was the only member that was not on the tour since the band was hoping he would recover from his illness. The sudden death was a blow to an otherwise perfect summer for the band and the fans alike. Tommy Shaw's homage is a somber tribute that brings tears to the eye of the most casual fans as well. Nowhere else has such a beautiful reflection been recorded by those who were so close to a lost loved friend. Whether or not it was intended, this song tended to serve as an epilogue to a great history of success the band enjoyed in the studio - and more importantly, on the road.

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