Thursday, June 20, 2024

Dennis DeYoung returns with 26 East

If you know your Seventies US rock, you’ll know the name of this artist, and even if you don’t know the band he made his name with, you’ll certainly know his voice. Dennis DeYoung was the keyboard player and main vocalist with US pomp rock band Styx, and also their main songwriter, penning several of their major top 10 hits, including ‘Lady, Don’t let it End’ and ‘Babe’. For many, he is the sound of Styx. After being replaced by Lawrence Gowran following his acrimonious (depending on whose story you believe) departure from Styx in 1999, for health related issues, DeYoung has continued to write and record, and his music has featured in several films and TV shows, notably Shrek 2, Glee and Modern Family.

However, he also has a band and continues to make solo albums. On 26 East, he takes us on a journey from “My humble beginnings in a Chicago basement to the top of my chosen profession,” and from the opening notes of ‘East of Midnight,’ if you didn’t know who he was, you’d assume this was someone copying Styx, with its classic seventies harmonies and lush backing. Tracks like ‘Kingdom Ablaze’ and ‘Unbroken’ could fit easily onto any of Styx’s classic seventies albums, and on ‘AD2020,’ he reprises Styx’s, ‘Rocking the Paradise.’

He takes a swipe at the media (who’ve never liked Styx) on ‘With all due Respect,’ singing “With all due respect, you’re an asshole.” The album also includes a duet with Julian Lennon, on ‘To the good old days,’ the lyrical content of which could only have been written by a guy now in his early seventies. As the Floyd once sang, “The memories of a man in his old age, are the dreams of a man in his prime.”

After several years of avoiding any reference or allusions to his previous band, he now states I’m making this album for Styx fans and, if they’re truly Styx fans, they’re gonna love it.” But, what about everyone else? Essentially this is an album for those fans who think Fleetwood Mac are a rock ‘n roll band. The harmonies are faultless and the songs are mostly good, even if tracks like ‘You my Love’ are a large spoonful of sweet sugar (think ‘Babe’). But if you count Judas Priest and Five Finger Death Punch amongst your favourites, you’d probably be better off looking elsewhere.

Dennis DeYoung’s 26 EAST: Volume 1 is out 22nd May 2020 via Frontiers Music s.r.l.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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