Styx “Styx II”

Posted 17 Nov 2011 in 70s, Albums of 1973, Albums of the 70s, Rock + Roll

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#554 in the Series) is Styx, Styx II

All I have to do is look at that Styx II album cover and I immediately feel a smile forming on my face as all these wonderful childhood memories return.

I was raised in the far Southside neighborhood of Chicago called Roseland.  A place that while part of a huge metropolis, still felt like small town America to us. It was a small town that was made up of many immigrant families.  There was a Polish area, a Mexican area, a Lithuanian area (that gave us director Robert Zemeckis. Back to the Future, Forest Gump) an area called “Bum Town” (that gave us Elliot Ness), and my area, the Italian area that gave us among others, the Panozzo twins, Chuck and John.

Chuck was a bass player and John a drummer (when he wasn’t thinking about replacing goaltender Glenn Hall on the Blackhawks or Father Nalin at St. Anthony’s Parish), the two of them along with another Roseland boy, Dennis DeYoung would form the core of Styx. Those three, along with guitarists John “J.C.” Curulewski and James “J.Y.” Young  would eventually form the band, Tradewinds, after a short period of being called TW4, they would change their name to Styx.

Chuck, John and Dennis

They would play all the dances at our local  high schools, make frequent stops at the Calumet Park “Rec” Center with the other hot local band, Heartsfield. Some of the members would even play “guitar masses” at St. Anthony’s on selected Sundays.

In 1972 or there about, they would sign their first record deal with local label, Wooden Nickel Records.  Their debut album simply titled Styx was released that year.  The next year would see the release of the album Styx II, it would be produced by John Ryan and Bill Traut. Oddly enough John would also lend a hand on Heartsfield’s second  album “The Wonder of It All as well, they having just recently signing a long term deal with Mercury Records out of Los Angeles.

The first Styx album had a local feel as it included an interview piece recorded straight off the streets of down town Chicago. Styx II continued with a local taste in even more ways.  Bach’s “Little Fugue  in G” was recorded with Dennis playing the massive pipe organ at Holy Name Cathedral. This piece was the perfect intro for a song called “Father O.S.A. I’ve heard the inspiration for this song was a priest at local Mendel High School called “Father O.S.A.” Was that the truth or was that just a story floating thru the hood? I guess thru the years we could have just asked, but just never did….   (Update: There is some truth to this as O.S.A. as I’ve learned did stand for  “Order of St. Augustine.” They were indeed the order of the priests at our famed local high school)

Styx II was also the home of their first massive hit that would of course be Dennis’ “Lady.” (We’d all mimic  John’s “click-ding” intro on the finger cymbals!) However, it was not a hit when this album was current in early 1973.  It would take until 1975 for this song, and the album, to catch on nationally.  I remember sneaking into the basement to make countless calls to local am-rockers, WLS and WCFL trying to get it some air play.  How we laugh at the things that we did yesteryear.

One of my favorites on the album was J.C.’s “A Day.”  I thought, and still do, that this was a fantastic track.  I remember being heartbroken when my close friend, Mike Panozzo (a lad obviously with inside-knowledge of the band), once called this song, “just filler.” I should have called him on it!  I’m sure he was just joking anyway, he knew I liked the song.

I can’t close this with-out mentioning the band’s ode to our local people and our neighborhood called “The Earl of Roseland.” We loved that it mentioned everyone’s favorite hang-out Gately’s Peoples Store, “morning leaves for the afternoon, the boys show up on time, in the streets near the People’s Store below the electrical sign” or even about those times when the band was just being formed, “I can see Charlie on the porch, Johnny clicking his sticks, and two boys I don’t even know rehearsing electric string tricks.

I never really knew who Dennis was writing about there. My guess it was a fictional character. I guess it’s another thing that I had better ask.

Styx is still out there touring, some say it’s not the same with all these “outsiders” in the band, but they’re all darn good players and it’s good to see James Young and Chuck Panozzo still getting it done. Dennis is also on the road. Look for him as he brings his version of Styx’ songs to life. John Panozzo and John Curulewski have left us over the years. We miss them.

— Larry Carta

Track listing

Side One

“…the electrical sign.”

  1. “You Need Love” (Dennis DeYoung) – 3:44
  2. “Lady” (DeYoung) – 2:56
  3. “A Day” (John Curulewski) – 8:19
  4. “You Better Ask” (Curulewski) – 3:54
Side Two
  1. “Little Fugue in G” (Johann Sebastian Bach) – 1:17
  2. “Father O.S.A.” (DeYoung) – 7:08
  3. “Earl of Roseland” (DeYoung) – 4:39
  4. “I’m Gonna Make You Feel It” (DeYoung) – 2:23

Personnel

  • John Curulewski – guitar, arp synthesizer, autoharp and vocals
  • Dennis DeYoung – organ, pipe organ, arp synthesizer, piano, and vocals
  • Chuck Panozzo – bass
  • John Panozzo – drums, percussion and vocals
  • James Young – guitar and vocals

Links

Here’s the album in it’s entirety on a playlist

Here is a live video of “Lady” from ’76. Listen for the finger cymbals! 


These three pictures are from “Cool Album of the Day’s” regular contributor Tim Shockley’s private collection. They were shot at the Hammond Civic Center in 1973.  Click to enlarge.

“JY” + “JC” in ’73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Curelewski in ’73

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John “The Legend” Panozzo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dennis and Chuck

Dennis and Chuck
Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Bill (18 Nov 2011, 21:35)
    Reply

    Thanks Larry. I grew up on these guys as well, only a little farther south. Okay, quite a ways farther south! My very first recollection of Styx was when they were touring to promote this album (yes kids, they were called albums back then). I grew up in Arkansas, and Styx, being the midwestern band that they were, played Arkansas on every tour. Interestingly, on THIS tour, they played on the rooftop of the most popular music store in Little Rock, Boyd’s Music.

    I lived an hour away, and wasn’t old enough to drive, and to this day can’t even remember how I got there, but it was an all day promotional event for the music store with local bands playing all day leading up to Styx late in the afternoon. It was my first real experience of a “professional” band (hadn’t even been to a proper concert yet!) and the impact these guys had on me was just incredible. It’s probably my earliest rock & roll influence for me becoming a musician myself (other than my father, who was a very in demand country western bass player). It wasn’t their music so much, although I did like it, as it was hearing a “real” rock & roll band, playing original music (not covers!) and that they sounded so tight.

    It was nothing like the garage bands playing covers that I was used to hearing at school dances, parties, etc. I vividly remember hearing “Lady” that day and thinking “That should be a hit.” and like you said in your write up, it was 2-3 full years before it actually became a national hit! So I was well aware of Styx way before their popularity surged to megastar status.

    I’m pretty sure they were still travelling in stationwagons or some small scale bus at the time. I could talk early era Styx for days, I have so many memories, and ALL of them are from the Wooden Nickle era. They pretty much lost me after “Equinox” and most definitely after “Crystal Ball”. Funny, they hadn’t even hit their commercial peak yet and I thought they had gone too soft, yet once “Grand Illusion” hit I remember all the kids in school just raving about this “new” band called Styx! Yeah….I schooled them all on what they DIDN’T know. I must have been totally unbearable back then! Thanks again Larry. You stirred some old childhood memories of my own with this one!



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