Part of a rising tide of American "pomp-rock" groups of the 1970s, Styx combined prog-rock characteristics with hard-rock hooks and pop accessibility. Their high three-part vocal harmonies and radio-friendly tunes made them wildly successful into the early '80s, until AOR was eclipsed by new wave.
Japanese-only SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) paper sleeve pressing of this album. SHM-CDs can be played on any audio player and delivers unbelievably high-quality sound. You won''t believe it''s the same CD! Universal. 2009.
More than two decades before it became Eric Cartman's favorite song on South Park, "Come Sail Away" was the choice of music fans with one foot in the art-rock camp and the other in Top 40 pop. The Grand Illusion straddled the seemingly divergent directions as only Styx could, laying on the pomp with layers of keyboards and high-flown lyrical conceits, yet keeping the proceedings light with hook-filled choruses and breezy melodies. Tommy Shaw's engaging "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" is the set's highlight, offering a bit of armchair psychology even as it acted as a subtle dig at the snarling punk rockers to whom Styx was anathema. James Young's "Miss America" rocks out, while Dennis DeYoung's title track reminds us that life is fleeting and illusory. Not exactly Nietzsche, but you can dance to it, sort of. --Daniel Durchholz
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