9 Songs, 38 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Styx's ninth studio album landed the group a breakthrough hit with the post-prog ballad “Babe.” At the time of its 1979 release, Cornerstone was otherwise panned for not being as strong as some of Styx's earlier albums. But because the band dialed down its tendency to over-layer synth tracks, Cornerstone has aged pretty well. Check out the opening “Lights,” where the melodies and soaring five-part vocal harmonies stand out above the other instrumentation. Also, the use of clavinet over the band’s usual spacy keyboard textures makes for a more organic groove. The following “Why Me” boasts a bombastic approach to prog-pop that had more in common with Broadway show tunes than anything recorded by Styx's contemporaries like Asia, Alan Parsons Project, or 10cc. Tommy Shaw’s “Never Say Never” was an especially strong track that balanced balladry with Journey-style stadium rock. Similarly, his “Boat on the River” is a Roma-tinged standout. Shaw’s presence is stronger throughout Cornerstone, as his songwriting and confidence as a frontman were ramping up to his underrated 1984 solo debut album.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Styx's ninth studio album landed the group a breakthrough hit with the post-prog ballad “Babe.” At the time of its 1979 release, Cornerstone was otherwise panned for not being as strong as some of Styx's earlier albums. But because the band dialed down its tendency to over-layer synth tracks, Cornerstone has aged pretty well. Check out the opening “Lights,” where the melodies and soaring five-part vocal harmonies stand out above the other instrumentation. Also, the use of clavinet over the band’s usual spacy keyboard textures makes for a more organic groove. The following “Why Me” boasts a bombastic approach to prog-pop that had more in common with Broadway show tunes than anything recorded by Styx's contemporaries like Asia, Alan Parsons Project, or 10cc. Tommy Shaw’s “Never Say Never” was an especially strong track that balanced balladry with Journey-style stadium rock. Similarly, his “Boat on the River” is a Roma-tinged standout. Shaw’s presence is stronger throughout Cornerstone, as his songwriting and confidence as a frontman were ramping up to his underrated 1984 solo debut album.

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