Styx- Pieces of Eight-Tommy Shaw, James”JY” Young

While the facts of history ( music or otherwise) remain constant over the passage of time, it is fascinating how over the years perceptions of those facts sometimes do change, even dramatically, as in the case of Chicagoland favorites Styx. For instance, here is Greg Prato‘s assessment of the band on AllMusic.com circa 2013: “The rare art rock band with commercial success, capable of producing monster hits with stadium rock, sweeping power ballads,and concept albums.” With that glowing review, you might then be puzzled by Styx co-founder Dennis DeYoung warily telling a Rolling Stone  magazine writer in July 2011, ” The last time Rolling Stone  called to interview me, you know when it was? 1975. ‘Lady’ had just become a hit record by accident.”

(Styx 1978 L-R the late John Panozzo,James Young,Tommy Shaw,Chuck Panozzo,Dennis DeYoung)

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In this classic rock interview focusing on the September 1978 release of Pieces of Eight , former Styx member DeYoung  confesses that, in spite of his major conceptual songwriting role on the band’s 1977 breakthrough three million seller The Grand Illusion , the highly-anticipated follow-up Pieces of Eight was not his finest hour. This admission underscores the short term significance of how Styx guitarists/ songwriters/ singers Tommy Shaw and James Young stepped up creatively to fill the void on Pieces of Eight, again selling triple platinum with the muscular “Blue Collar Man”,”Renegade”,”The Great White Hope”,”Queen of Spades”, and “Sing for the Day”. Long term, however, it may have signaled the beginning of a divergence in the creative direction of Styx, an opinion shared by many long time Styx fans but rejected, albeit weakly, by DeYoung in the 2011 Rolling Stone interview.

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( James “JY” Young left, Tommy Shaw on current Styx tour)

What is without debate is the rave reception being received by the Shaw/ JY-led Styx with Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman, and Ricky Phillips both on the impressive double CD/ DVD package  The Grand Illusion/ Pieces of Eight Live recorded and filmed in high definition November 2010 in Memphis’ Orpheum Theater ( always a stronghold for Styx since 1978 ) . – Redbeard

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