Judge Dan Mancini has given up hope on the afternoon soaps.
Our review of Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra: One with Everything, published May 17th, 2007, is also available.
O, mama, I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law.
On May 26, 2006, the latter-day, Dennis DeYoung-free incarnation of Chicago progressive rock band Styx was joined by the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland—a 171-piece orchestra and choir made up entirely of musicians and singers between the ages of 13 and 19—for a night of music. The result is surprisingly energetic and entertaining. By way of full disclosure, let me admit up front that I'm a punk rock guy and not much of a fan of prog-rock. Having said that, I found this version of Styx—which favors guitarists Tommy Shaw and James Young's rock sensibilities over DeYoung's operatic excesses and mega-hit power ballads—surprisingly palatable. Those eager to hear DeYoung hits like "Come Sail Away," "Babe," "Lady," and "Mr. Roboto" will be sorely disappointed by the disc. I'm also not much of a fan of rock band/orchestra team-ups, which usually result in a bunch of bored conservatory-trained musicians sawing away at whole notes while the garage-schooled rock stars prance around and jam. One with Everything is an exception because the young musicians in the CYO are both skilled and enthusiastic. The concert delivers a satisfying mix of styles.
This 21st century version of Styx is led by Young and Shaw, replaces DeYoung with flamboyant Canadian keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, and is rounded out by Todd Sucherman on drums and one-time Bad English member Ricky Phillips on bass. Even in DeYoung's absence, Styx delivers lush instrumental arrangements, warbling tenor vocals, and loads of '70s/'80s excess (bordering on kitsch). The band augments its grandiose bombast with a perfect storm of Moog synthesizer patches, fuzz guitar, teased hair, skinny ties, popped collars, leather vests, athletic wrist bands, skin-tight jeans, cowboy boots, embroidered sleeveless shirts, tattoos, and hoop earrings. The band zips through a selection of (mostly Shaw-penned) numbers from throughout the its long career. They even perform a few brand new numbers. Highlights of the show include energetic performances of Styx hits "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)," "Too Much Time on My Hands," and "Renegade"; tasty covers of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" and Willie Dixon's "It Don't Make Sense (You Can't Make Peace)"; and a special appearance by founding Styx member Chuck Panozzo on "Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)."
The concert looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. The 1080i MPEG-4 AVC transfer sports bold colors, sharp detail, and excellent depth of field. The default audio option is an LPCM stereo mix that delivers clear vocals, strong bass response, and punchy midrange. Even better is a lossless DTS-HD track with more dynamic range and excellent spatial imaging of the instruments, orchestra, and audience. A Dolby 5.1 mix isn't as strong as the DTS-HD offering, but still sounds great.
Supplements include performances of two Christmas tunes, "All I Want" and "Ring the Bells"; 10 minutes of interviews with Tommy Shaw, James Young, and CYO music director Liza Grossman about how the concert came about; and 12 minutes of "Quake Cam" footage shot by a fixed camera mounted just behind Todd Sucherman's high-hat (while an interesting angle, not much footage from the camera made it into the final program because its proximity to the drums resulted in a lot of shuddering and blurring). The extras are presented in 1080i HD with LPCM audio.
** NOTE: The disc's packaging lists the program's running time as 144 minutes, but that includes the supplements. The concert itself runs 112 minutes.
The jig may be up on Styx's time as a Top 40 radio mainstay, but Styx and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland: One with Everything proves the band still has some life left in it. The disc offers a whole heap of the famed progressive rock band's classic material, well performed and professionally shot, recorded, and mixed. Given Blu-ray's superior picture and sound, it's the preferred way to catch this concert video. Styx fans not offended by the notable absence of Dennis DeYoung are sure to dig it.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
• Christmas Songs
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