For many people, this is where Styx begins.
Before the bombastic ballads of the '80s but after the aimless
instrumental wanderings of the first three albums, the classic
period of Styx produced some of classic rock's greatest and most
pretentious rock songs. Along with Kansas, Journey and REO
Speedwagon, Styx fused progressive rock, classic rock and pop in a
way that dumbed down radio, but sold millions of albums.
Equinox, however, is a stepping stone from the old days to the new, and hints of future Styx are found in the eight tracks here. The album is short, a little over half an hour, but six of the eight songs are very good (three were hits and two should have been). For fans of the "Come Sail Away/Babe" era of the band, this may sound a little rough, but anyone who only knows Styx from those songs should give this a shot.
"Light Up" and "Lorelei" start off the album pleasantly, with some happy synthesizer work; the former has a chugging rhythm in the middle that sounds good, while the latter has some great harmonies. "Mother Dear" and "Lonely Child" try for atmosphere but fall short, coming across as more filler than inspiration.
A great bass riff propels "Born for Adventure," along with some sharp drumming, while "Midnight Ride" is quite enjoyable as well. The set pieces, though, are the short but pretty "Prelude 12" and "Suite Madame Blue," a multi-part moody number that starts with a five-chord arpeggio before the drums come thundering in, which leads to an inspired middle eight with everyone singing "America" at different times before the bombastic finish.
This album sowed the seeds for what was to come, and is interesting to hear as a snapshot of a band ready to hit the big time. Some of the material isn't terribly interesting, but there's enough here to keep the listener paying attention, and "Suite" is perhaps the best song the group ever composed. If only the band had stayed this course.
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