Styx - The Grand Illusion
A&M Records
Progressive Rock
8 songs (38:59)
Release year: 1977
Reviewed by Jeff

In the early seventies, Styx established themselves as a progressive/hard rock act to be reckoned with. The five-piece band from Chicago spent the first six years of their career playing the club circuit and within that time span, went from performing in small venues to opening up for such headliners as Kiss, Aerosmith and AC/DC. But it wasn't until the release of "The Grand Illusion" album that Styx gained the headlining status they deserved. "The Grand Illusion" was Styx's first gold album and eventually went platinum. It was the second album featuring new addition Tommy Shaw. The importance of Tommy Shaw's song writing skills to Styx helped re-define the band, allowing them to gain much of the success they had at the time.

"The Grand Illusion" starts off with the title track. This song is like a welcoming. It is an introduction. It revolves around the idea that people shouldn't always form their opinions of a band's success from the radio, TV or magazines. They believe fans should go to the concerts to see them live because the performance is honest and not a facade.

"Fooling Yourself" was written and sung by Tommy Shaw. It is the most melodic tune on the album. This cut starts off with a synthesizer accompanied by a keyboard and is then followed by an acoustic guitar. The song gradually builds to a superb synthesizer solo by Dennis De Young.

"Superstars", another Tommy Shaw song, contains some strong group choruses. It's a song about a rock star's view on success and being able to relate to what the fans feel and dream since he was once just like them.

"Come Sail Away" is perhaps the most memorable and popular of all Styx songs. I still here this song on the radio at least 2 or three times a week! It was written by Dennis De Young and is about his desire of wanting to go beyond the point he has already reached. De Young was always compelled to strive for bigger and better goals. The song represents some of De Young's most astounding vocal work, as well as the constant changing dynamics between guitars and keyboards.

Probably the heaviest track on the album is "Miss America". James Young handles the vocals on this tune and displays his amazing fret work throughout the song. His guitar riffs were inspired by a Jethro Tull song called "Minstrel In The Gallery", but if you listen to the two songs they sound nothing alike.

There is yet another Tommy Shaw cut called "Man In The Wilderness". This song is about Tommy's feeling of being up in front of thousands of unknown people each time Styx performed live.

"Castle Walls" is another Dennis De Young song and has a very minstrel, almost medieval dungeons and dragons vibe to it.

"The Grand Finale" closes out the album. It's basically a return to the opening track "The Grand Illusion", using themes from that song and is much shorter.

This Styx album stands out as one of their most innovative, best written and most consistent albums to date. The sound and production on this album was so ahead of its time that it fits in with today's contemporary rock music. "The Grand Illusion" was to be followed by four triple platinum albums. Their writing style and sound of the seventies began to change with the approach of the eighties. This change is most noticeable on the "Cornerstone" album.

For me, "The Grand Illusion" rates up there with other classic progressive rock albums like Kansas "Leftoverture", ELP "Brain Salad Surgery", Genesis "Selling England By The Pound", Pink Floyd "Wish You Were Here", Angel "Angel" and Yes "Fragile".


Killing Songs :
The Grand Illusion, Fooling Yourself, Superstars, Come Sail Away, Miss America
Jeff quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Styx that we have reviewed:
Styx - The Complete Wooden Nickel Recordings reviewed by Jeff and quoted
Styx - Cyclorama reviewed by Jeff and quoted 89 / 100
2 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 14 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Apr 27, 2005 5:17 am
View and Post comments