The Complete Wooden Nickel Recordings (2005)

Disc One 1.Movement for the Common Man 2.Right Away 3.What Has Come Between Us 4.Best Thing 5.Quick is the Beat of My Heart 6.After You Leave Me 7.You Need Love 8.Lady 9.A Day 10.You Better Ask 11.Little Fugue in "G" 12.Father O.S.A. 13.Earl of Roseland 14.I'm Gonna Make You Feel It 15.Unfinished Song Disc Two 1.Witch Wolf 2.The Grove of Eglantine 3.Young Man 4.As Bad As This 5.Winner Take All 6.22 Years 7.Jonas Psalter 8.The Serpent is Rising 9.Krakatoa 10.Halleluja Chorus 11.Rock & Roll Feeling 12.Havin' a Ball 13.Golden Lark 14.A Song for Suzanne 15.A Man Like Me 16.Lies 17.Evil Eyes 18.Southern Woman 19.Christopher, Mr. Christopher 20 Man of Miracles


Like many other bands that reach stardom, Styx had an "early" phase to their career that wasn't very interesting and certainly not very popular. Before Tommy Shaw joined the band in 1975 and made the band "click", Styx was a struggling Chicago band that was under a very obscure record label called "Wooden Nickel" records. The label didn't really ever have much of a budget, so in addition to the material never getting promoted, the corners were also cut in the recording studio and the band's potential was never really realized during this time. Apart from the one song, Lady (which was discovered by accident and didn't become a hit until 3 years after it was released), there really isn't anything at all memorable on this collection. Most of these albums were bought by a few of the long suffering faithful as well as the collectors.

Ironically, this collection somehow actually works. The biggest reason is probably that the entire recordings are available on one release (there were a total of four albums). Everything here is featured in the exact same order as when it was recorded. The band's fourth (and last) Wooden Nickel release Man of Miracles was actually released in 3 different versions with a song swapped out in two of those versions. One of these songs, Unfinished Song, is fortunately added here at the end of the first disc (ironically it's one of the very best here).

It is also nice to hear this band formulate its sound over the years. Contrary to what anyone says, Dennis DeYoung has always been a balladeer. You can tell that by listening to the majority of his work here. He managed to disguise it a little better, but you can definitely hear his softer side coming out all over these early albums. It's also nice to hear some of James Young's earlier guitar crunching riffs on songs like Witch Wolf, Southern Woman and A Man Like Me. For the most part, original guitarist John Curelewski's material is mostly forgetful (exception - the great rocker 22 Years) and his style was not the slightest bit replicated when Tommy Shaw replaced him.

A pretty good package for those who love the band but don't want to buy four separate CDs. Especially when they weren't that good to begin with - and many out of print.

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