In what is to be Dennis DeYoung’s final album – 26 East Vol 2 will not disappoint DeYoung or so those old Styx fans who still miss him as part of the band. Assuming Dennis is at peace with this being his last, one can’t help but feel a bit sad for him, having created such a fantastic repertoire of music for fans, and here it is – the Grand Finale! And a bit sad [regardless of what you think of his departure from Styx], that he ends his career not as part of the legendary band he helped create and lead for many years. Although I have not picked up everything Dennis did outside of Styx, the guy’s music holds a place for me as one of my first favorite bands whom I collected right til they split in the ’80s, and who’s lyrics usually meant something . I hope the guy has a book in his retirement plans! Having said all that, I enjoyed 26 East Vol 1 last year, but I think I just may enjoy this one a good bit more. At first I thought the cover was a bit odd, a throw back to the ’60s, but really it’s a nod to Meet The Beatles! There is plenty of reflecting in this diverse batch of tunes, and a few nods to his past with Styx, and plenty of those old Styx harmonies. The album opens with “Hello Goodbye”, and it’s a Beatles’ inspired upbeat pop number, complete with horns, and plenty of Beatles references. Sure there’s a few ballads, most notably “Your Saving Grace” and “Always Time”, which would have fit well on a classic Styx album.
Actually there are a few tracks here that wouldn’t be out of place on a Styx album, and thus will appeal greatly to those fans, like “Proof Of Heaven” which – with those harmonies and chorus remind me of the track “Pieces Of Eight”, and of course “The Isle Of Misanthrope” sees DeYoung return to those progressive Styx cuts. “There’s No Turning Back Time” is an early favorite here, starting as a ballad and going through a few changes and picking up the pace when the band kicks in, and lyrically one of a number of songs here that just may bring out an emotional reaction to those fans of DeYoung’s writing.
Aside from the opening track there is some catchy upbeat stuff, such as “Land Of The Living” [this would’ve made a fine single at one point], and the rock track “The Last Guitar Hero” [with Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine], a song citing rock being dead due to technology, a great tune. The album ends with a revisit of “The Grand Finale”, so wonderfully put on here, as it caps off more than just another album.
Such a great set of songs, varied, touching on everything DeYoung was best known for in Styx. Fans will appreciate it, as he kinda returns home [minus the band] on this album. Very much looking forward to getting the gatefold vinyl LP, opening it up. putting it on the record player, and enjoying it as I did with those old Styx albums decades ago.
RELEASE DATE: June 11, 2021
Former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung is back with the second volume of his fond farewell to recorded music, “26 East, Vol. 2.” As with the preceding volume, “26 East, Vol. 2” once again hints strongly at DeYoung’s rock roots with Styx. The production and musicianship are EPIC, and those timeless vocal arrangements get delivered in spades. A fitting goodbye and a final signature on an outstanding body of work which will stand the test of time!
DeYoung has previously stated that “26 East” will mark his retirement from the world of recorded music. It was thanks to Frontiers CEO, Serafino Perugino, that given the abundance of material, Dennis agreed to split the album in two parts. This second half starts where the previous one left off and sees DeYoung collaborate again with the awesome Jim Peterik, a fellow Chicagoan and nearby neighbor, for the songwriting on select tracks.
“The last album was supposed to be my final album, but there were so many songs written that Serafino Perugino, CEO of Frontiers, suggested dividing it into two albums rather than one,” DeYoung states.
“26 East” was the address where DeYoung grew up in Roseland, IL on the far south side of Chicago. This is where the band 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 Styx.
The process that brought forth the album beginning 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,” says 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 9 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.”
Land Of The Living
The Last Guitar Hero (Featuring Tom Morello)
Your Saving Grace
Proof Of Heaven
Made For Each Other
There’s No Turning Back Time
Little Did We Know
The Isle Of Misanthrope
Vocals: Dennis DeYoung
Drums: Mike Morales, Ed Breckenfeld, Matthew DeYoung & The Late Khari Parker
Guitar: Jim Peterik, Mike Aquino, August Zadra, Jim Leahey
Solo on Last Guitar Hero: Tom Morello “The Great Houdini”
Bass: Jim Peterik, Jim Majors, Me on Synth Bass.
Keyboards: Me & Why Not?
Horns on Hello Goodbye, The Ides Of March: Tim Bales, Steve Eisen & Henry Delgado
Background Vocals: Jim Peterik, August Zadra, Kevin Chalfant, Suzanne Deyoung, Tito Gobi, Craig Carter, Mike Morales & Me. Mostly Me, I Work Cheap And Was Always Available. Besides My Voice Always Reminds People Of A Very Popular ’70s And ’80s Group. No, Not The Pointer Sisters.
Michael Manson Gospel Group on Your Saving Grace
Matthew DeYoung would like to dedicate his performance on the Grand Finale to his mentor John Panozzo. The ride cymbal Matthew used was given to him by John.
KJJ, 05 / ’21