~ ARTICLES ~
Resurrected Styx Is Ready To Rock
July 05, 1996
|By ROGER CATLIN The Hartford Courant
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Yes, look who's back: Styx, seemingly the last band from the '70s that hasn't re-formed, is touring in the first reunion of its most popular lineup in 13 years.
"We've awakened the sleeping giant. He's had plenty of rest, and he's up and ready to party," says Tommy Shaw over the phone from the band's home base, Chicago.
He's only speaking figuratively about the partying part.
"I've left a few scorch marks in my time," Shaw says. "I'm treading softer now."
So, with less partying, more professionalism and 13 more years of musical experience under everyone's belt, "the singing is better than it used to be," Shaw reports. (The group is booked Tuesday at West Palm Beach's Coral Sky Amphitheatre.) When the band plays Fooling Yourself in rehearsal, "it's astonishing. It sounds so much like the record. When we play it, it's like a ray that freezes people in motion, so crew people or anybody around just stop - and they might not be Styx fans - and watch the song."
At 42, Shaw is the youngest of those joining the tour. Lead singer Dennis DeYoung who briefly revived the group in 1990 with the hit Show Me the Way, is 49. Other originals on board include guitarist James Young and bassist Chuck Panozzo.
What made this year the time to reunite?
"Timing is everything," Shaw says."I don't think it should have happened until now."
This summer's tour was helped mightily by a small campaign last summer to tie into the release of Styx Greatest Hits, Vol. 1.
The band got together to re-record Lady, the single biggest Styx hit before Shaw joined the band, replacing the departing John Curulewski in 1975. RCA, which owned rights to the 1973 ballad, refused to allow it to be used for the compilation on A&M.
"It was an easy way to get something new on a greatest-hits package," Shaw says. "And the nature of it was: `Gotta have it now, gotta have it quick.' We didn't have six months to do a bunch of new tracks."
Then, in a couple of promotional appearances when Styx re-formed on stage, the band seemed to click again.
The band is certainly getting along better now than it did when Shaw left in 1984. "After eight years of recording and being on the road constantly with each other, we started getting under each other's skin."
Shaw had quite a bit of success after leaving Styx, releasing a pair of solo albums and joining Ted Nugent in Damn Yankees in 1990. "But when I took a real look at it, and I saw how much music we [Styx) had together, the thought of going out and playing music again - there weren't a lot of cons. Especially if we were enjoying it, and it was about the music."
Although the tour is billed as "Return to the Paradise Theatre," in reference to the band's 3 million-selling No. 1 album, Paradise Theatre in 1981, it's not designed to be a concert representing that era.
"We're doing a similar opening and closing as Paradise," Shaw says. But we're putting in a lot of things people remember from all the albums. Paradise is just a good way to frame it all."
Expected selections include the Top 10 hits Come Sail Away, Babe, The Best of Times, Too Much Time on My Hands, Don't Let It End and the irrepressible Mr. Roboto, the single from the elaborate 1983 stage show "Kilroy Was Here," about a future in which rock 'n' roll is banned.
A lot of Styx music holds up, Shaws says. The Best of Times, a theme for countless '70s proms, is "still so prevalent today," he says.
But there will be a couple of new songs the band will present as well - Little Suzie and It Takes Love.
Shaw won't say whether he's given up on his solo act or Damn Yankees. "I don't know if you can call this my main thing. But Styx is alive and well, and you should look to hear more from it," he says.
"Everybody is doing something else, too," Shaw says of his band mates. But despite all this activity, "it's pretty hard to eclipse Styx," he says.
"And it's hard to have something bigger than Styx. Some things are just as fun. Damn Yankees is a blast, but we've never had eight albums of songs everybody knows.
"When we play as Styx now and look out, you see everyone's little movies goin' on in their heads. People are transfixed. We love that we meant something to them. And no amount of anti-Styx sentiment or ridicule can take that away.
"Not that there is much anymore," he adds. "When you survive long enough, it puts it all to rest."
Shaw doesn't mind that the band never got its critical due - it was often lumped with REO Speedwagon and Journey as faceless, corporate rock.
"Success is a great way to get your due," he says. "We succeeded at what we did. That meant people connected with us. The number of records sold was a way of keeping score. And you have to have a big audience to bring a show like this to town."
-- Styx and Kansas are scheduled to perform Tuesday at Coral Sky Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets $12.95-$27.75. Call Ticketmaster, 1-407-966-3309, 1-954-523-3309, 1-305-358-5885.
|Line Up||Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw, James "JY" Young, Chuck Panozzo, Todd Sucherman|
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