SP-4604 Crystal Ball
Produced by Styx
Released on October 1976
US CHART POSITION #66 . . . GOLD RECORD (11/10/78)
Find it at GEMM
SP-4604 cover
[high resolution photo]
 

S he’s seventeen, barely old enough to cry; a child in her father’s eyes, a woman every night. That noble sentiment comes courtesy of the song “Jennifer” (if you guessed the Canadian national anthem, shame on you). Crystal Ball wants to be an important concept album, I think, inviting listeners to raise the flag of their altered states and come sail away with Styx on the opening “Put Me On.” (This was one of Styx’ tricks, treating their opening tracks as an invitation to escape reality and enter the band’s multi-layered world of pomp rock.) In the game of pomp rock, Queen holds the high card, but Styx doesn’t fold so easily in their pursuit of a suitably majestic sound. The joint harmonies are occasionally shrill, the melodies a little guileless compared to Queen (“Mademoiselle”), but otherwise Crystal Ball is worth looking into if you enjoyed Queen’s early material. The album marks the introduction of guitarist Tommy Shaw into the fold, who joins Dennis De Young and James Young as an alternate engine of creation. In fact, Styx took the unusual step of naming their album after Shaw’s “Crystal Ball,” probably because they understood it was the best song on the album. Shaw struck a balance between Young’s hard-rocking excess (“Shooz”) and De Young’s ballads (“This Old Man”) that gave Styx an impressive range nearly equal to Queen. However, Queen was after bigger quarry than Styx; you wouldn’t find the commonplace sentiment of “Jennifer” or “Shooz” on a Queen record. Shaw’s inclusion didn’t result in a great record out of the gate, but it did give Styx the tools they needed to make a great record like The Grand Illusion. Crystal Ball sounds good, contains some thoughtful songs and minor hits, and can be counted a pleasant creature of the middle world between beer and weed (dream rock) that marked the mid Seventies.

SP-4604 back cover SP-4604 lyric sleeve
SP-4604 back cover SP-4604 lyric sleeve

TRACK LISTING

  1. PUT ME ON    (Dennis DeYoung/James Young/Tommy Shaw)    4:58
  2. MADEMOISELLE    (Dennis DeYoung/Tommy Shaw)    3:55
  3. JENNIFER    (Dennis DeYoung)    4:07
  4. CRYSTAL BALL    (Tommy Shaw)    4:26
  5. SHOOZ    (James Young/Tommy Shaw)    4:38
  6. THIS OLD MAN    (Dennis DeYoung)    5:00
  7. CLAIR DE LUNE    (P.D. arr. by Dennis DeYoung)    1:05 / BALLERINA    (Dennis DeYoung/Tommy Shaw)    5:53

CREDITS

DENNIS DE YOUNG -- keyboards, vocals and synthesizers
CHUCK PANOZZO -- bass guitar and vocals
JOHN PANOZZO -- drums, percussion and vocals
TOMMY SHAW -- acoustic and electric guitarss and vocals
JAMES YOUNG -- guitars and vocals
Barry Mraz -- production assistance, engineer, remixing
Styx -- remixing
Jim Head -- synthesizer programming consultant
Roland Young -- art direction
Jim Ladwig -- design
John Welzenbach -- photography

return to STYX discography

REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US/CAN October 1976 A&M LP SP-4604 lyric sleeve
UK 1976 A&M LP AMLH 64604  
AUS'L 1976 A&M LP L36041  
FRA 1976 A&M LP 985 045  
GER 1976 A&M LP 28 135 XOT  
NET 1976 A&M LP AMNP-131  
US   A&M LP/CD SP/CD 3218  

 

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