MUSIC REVIEW | Styx – Paradise Theatre (1981)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I know I really liked pretty much every single thing about it, but I don’t feel like it gave me any more of an idea of what Styx was as a band. ”

Styx 1
Mr Roboto is the only Styx song I can name. It might be the only Styx song I have ever heard. I don’t love it or hate it. It’s just a passable novelty hit that represents a specific time in pop music. So with that scorching hot ambivalence about the band, why am I bothering to listen to an entire Styx album and write about it? The answer is, I don’t know. I think I’m hoping listening to Paradise Theatre will answer that question. Maybe it’ll give me some context for the band outside of one novelty hit.


Structurally, musically, lyrically, A.D. 1928 and Rockin’ in Paradise sound like an introduction to a concept album, or the soundtrack to a narrative story. The former segues seamlessly into tho latter, going from a quiet, welcome into a fun, rocking heart starter.

With its space zaps and gloriously synthasised bass line, Too Much Time on My Hands confirms that I am definitely listening to the band responsible for Mr Roboto. It’s so goofy, but so good at the same time. It sounds like the band is taking things seriously enough to make tight, well structured music, but they also want to make sure we’re having a good time with it too. There’s nothing pretentious or overly serious about Styx or Paradise Theatre.

Continuing the “soundtrack to a narrative story” theory, The Best of Times comes across as the end of the first act. If this record had a hero, this is the point when they realise their purpose, or accept their mission. And declare such via a power ballad of extremely over wrought and over important proportions. Then it’s into the story’s training montage song with the soaring (faux) horns and soul backups singers of Lonely People. It even peppers in two rip roaring guitar solos just in case you weren’t pumping your fist enough already.

The most straight forward rock and roll on Paradise Theatre comes with Half Penny Two Penny which lives purely by its kick ass guitar riff that hold it all together before launching into a surprisingly shredding solo.

I wonder what indicates the three decade difference between album opener A.D 1928, and the penultimate A.D 1958? Surprisingly the second is more traditional than the first. With an actual piano instead of the many synths. But of course, because this is the band who made Mr Robot, we get a little bit of robot sounding vocals.
Styx 2
Listening to Paradise Theatre, I know I really liked pretty much every single thing about it, but I don’t feel like it gave me any more of an idea of what Styx was as a band. This feels like it’s such a coherent, singular, thematic piece, that I assume it represents a very specific time for the band, and probably isn’t a good representation of them as a whole.

Styx

Other Opinions are Available. What did these people have to say about Paradise Theatre?
Classic Rock Review
Classic Rock Revisited
Styx World

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