SP-4724 Pieces of Eight
Produced by Styx
Released on September 1, 1978
US CHART POSITION #6 . . . 3x PLATINUM RECORD
Find it at GEMM
SP-4724 cover
[high resolution scan]

T he followup to The Grand Illusion was even grander: tower-collapsing choruses, giant-slaying axemanship and cathedral organs. The record continued the band’s command of US airwaves with “Blue Collar Man (Long Nights),” featuring one of the more recognizable intros in rock history, and the classic “Renegade,” both from Tommy Shaw. Styx had begun to sound more like Queen with the addition of Tommy Shaw and, on Pieces of Eight, actually make them seem subtle by comparison. Of course, prog and excess go together like bacon and cheese, so no griping from my quarter. Yes, the “Lords of the Ring” is a great pile of prog cheese that goes completely over the top, but it’s all a matter of what you believe in and, as the song says, “to believe is a wonderous thing.” (I’m still wondering how James Young got suckered into singing this, but that’s another matter.) In keeping with tradition, the opening track is a self-referential piece that sets the stage for what follows: in this case, a band (Styx) trying hard to stay on top. Any concept beyond that (and Dennis DeYoung has suggested one) is loose at best. You could make a case that “Blue Collar Man” and “Renegade” are the same character singing; where that fits in with “Lords of the Ring” is anybody’s guess. What holds the album together is that distinctive Styx sound and superlative musicianship. I rarely think of John Panozzo as a great rock drummer, for example, but he totally nails his performances on Pieces. Despite what might be considered a slow start (the first side of music doesn’t contain anything that would be readily identified as a “classic” Styx hit), Pieces of Eight is classic 70s prog (note the absence of my usual “American” qualifier) from beginning to end. It may well be the largest, loudest album in their entire catalog. On a superficial note, this and Alan Parsons’ Eve are two of my least favorite album covers from Hipgnosis.

TRACK LISTING

  1. GREAT WHITE HOPE    (James Young)    4:23
  2. I'M O.K.    (Dennis DeYoung/James Young)    5:42
  3. SING FOR THE DAY    (Tommy Shaw)    4:56
  4. THE MESSAGE    (Dennis DeYoung)    1:08
  5. LORDS OF THE RING    (Dennis DeYoung)    4:31
  6. BLUE COLLAR MAN (LONG NIGHTS)    (Tommy Shaw)    4:03
  7. QUEEN OF SPADES    (James Young/Dennis DeYoung)    5:38
  8. RENEGADE    (Tommy Shaw)    4:13
  9. PIECES OF EIGHT    (Dennis DeYoung)    4:45
  10. AKU-AKU    (Tommy Shaw)    3:00

CREDITS

DENNIS DeYOUNG -- keyboards, vocals, pipe organ, synthesizer programming
CHUCK PANOZZO -- bass
JOHN PANOZZO -- drums
TOMMY SHAW -- guitars, vocals
JAMES YOUNG -- guitars, vocals
Ed Wlash -- synthesizer programming
Barry Mraz -- production assistance, engineer
Rob Kingsland -- engineer
Hypgnosis (sic) -- art direction & design

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REGION RELEASE DATE LABEL MEDIA ID NUMBER FEATURES
US September 1, 1978 A&M LP/CS/8T SP/AMCS/8T-4724 gatefold cover, lyric sleeve
UK/NET September 1978 A&M LP AMLH-64724 gatefold cover, lyric sleeve,
avail. as clear vinyl
AUSL/NZ 1978 A&M LP L-36728 gatefold cover
BRA 1978 A&M LP C064 61914  
CAN 1978 A&M LP SP-4724 gatefold cover, lyric sleeve,
avail. as gold vinyl
JPN 1978 A&M LP AMP-6019 gatefold cover
US 1978 A&M LPPIC PR-4724 picture disc
US 1980 Nautilus LP NR-15 half-speed master
US 1984 A&M LP/CD SP-3224  
GER   A&M LP 39 3224-1 lyric sleeve

 

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