Styx was one of my earliest favorite bands, that period from Equinox until Paradise Theatre was an amazing run. Dennis DeYoung released “Desert Moon” in 1984, which I liked at the time, followed by 2 more solo albums in the next few years. In the ’90s he got in to Broadway and theatre tunes, and I had kinda lost interest by this time. The next few Styx albums weren’t so hot either. However, I did pick up Dennis DeYoung’s “Live In Los Angeles” [2 CD set of Styx songs] in 2014, and was amazed at just how good he sounded, and his band. A better live album than Styx’s “Caught In The Act” 30 years prior. And that brought me back to DD and Styx. I loved the last Styx album [minus Dennis], and picked up his 2009 album “One Hundred Years From Now”, which was a good album.
“26 East, Vol 1” sees DeYoung going back to a more Styx sound, particularly with the harmonies, and a bit more guitar. The opening track “East Of Midnight” coming off like a classic 70s Styx production. There’s plenty of theatrics though, with memorable songs like “Run For The Roses”, “A Kingdom Ablaze”, and “Damn The Dream”. There’s always a number of ballads with DeYoung, most notably here is “To The Good Old Days”, sung with Julian Lennon. The album ends with a return to the Paradise Theater on “A.D. 2020”. At 73, time has been good to DeYoung’s voice and energy. An interesting album, which lots to get into. Old Styx fans will dig most of this. Volume 2 should be interesting.
“26 EAST: Volume 1”
RELEASE DATE: May 22, 2020
Former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung is back with his sixth original solo studio, album “26 East: Volume 1.”
“26 East” was the address where DeYoung grew up in Roseland on the far south side of Chicago. This is where Styx was formed in his basement in 1962. Across the street lived the Panozzo twins, John and Chuck, who along with DeYoung would go on to form the nucleus of the band. The cover artwork features three locomotives traveling through space, representing the original members leaving Chicago on their journey to the stars.
“On this, I decided to write songs about my journey from humble beginnings in my basement on Chicago’s far-south side to the very top of my chosen profession.” the singer states.
While DeYoung previously announced this will be his last album, more recently he revealed that “there were so many songs written that Serafino Perugino, CEO of Frontiers, suggested dividing it into two albums rather than one,” DeYoung states. “This is Volume 1, which sounds pretentious to me, but the marketing folks wanted you to know there are going to be two of them, so hey kids, there are two of them; this is Volume 1!”
One of the special moments on “26 East” is a tribute to DeYoung’s musical idols, The Beatles. “If you know me, you know of my love for the Beatles and their effect on my life and millions of other musicians.” DeYoung notes that the Beatles-inspired track is a duet, and he recruited Julian Lennon, son of John, to duet with him. “I wrote an email to him and was just about to send it when I listened one last time and suddenly realized Jules should not sing this song,” he explained. “It was my story not his.” Instead, DeYoung went to his piano and wrote an entirely new tune for he and Lennon to collaborate on. Calling their recording session a “dream come true,” DeYoung said the new duet sounds “even better than I had imagined.” The collaboration with Julian Lennon came about when DeYoung wrote a verse and chorus of a song with Lennon in mind. Lennon heard the demo and said he would be honored to participate. Lennon’s vocals were recorded in October at Mission Sound in Brooklyn, NY.
DeYoung shares, “The moment we sang together in the studio it felt magical. I wrote the song specifically for our two voices. I had never met Julian previously but I have been an admirer since Valotte.”
The process that brought forth the album begining in the first place started when Jim Peterik, a fellow Chicagoan and nearby neighbor, sent a song to Dennis.
“If not for Jim Peterik’s encouragement, talent and prodding I would not have recorded this music,” said DeYoung. “He once told me the world needed my music; to which I replied ‘have the world text me for verification.’ We collaborated from the get go, happily and seamlessly and at this time we have written nine songs together of which five will be on Volume 1. Just two Chicago guys doing what they do best, making music and having a laugh.”
East Of Midnight
With All Due Respect
A Kingdom Ablaze
You My Love
Run For The Roses
Damn That Dream
The Promise Of This Land
To The Good Old Days
Jim Peterik: Guitar, Bass, Keyboard, Vocals and Vuvuzela
August Zadra: Electric Guitars, vocals
Jimmy Leahey: Acoustic and electric guitars
Craig Carter: Bass, vocals and invocations
Mighty Mike Morales: Drums and all day sound checker
John Blasucci: Keyboard’s
Mike Aquino: Electric Guitars
Kevin Chalfant: backing vocals
Matthew DeYoung: Drums on “To The Good Old Days”
Ed Breckenfeld: Drums on “Unbroken”
Zoe and Austin Orchard for Ring Around The Rosie
The Chicago Children’s Choir and conductor Josephine Lee
Dennis DeYoung: Keyboards, fake drums, fake bass, fake news and some vocals. Oh and Vuvuzela
Mastered by Dave Collins, Dave Collins Mastering. L.A.