Paradise Theatre

Side 1:
1. A.D. 1928
2. Rockin' the Paradise
3. Too Much Time on My Hands
4. Nothing Ever Goes As Planned
5. The Best of Times
Side 2:
1. Lonely People
2. She Cares
3. Snowblind
4. Half-Penny, Two-Penny
5. A.D. 1958
6. State Street Sadie

Dennis DeYoung - keyboards, vocals
Chuck Panozzo - bass
John Panozzo - drums, percussion
Tommy Shaw - guitars, vocals, vocoder
James Young - guitars, vocals

Styx (1972)
Styx II (1973)
The Serpent is Rising (1974)
Man of Miracles (1974)
Equinox (1975)
Crystal Ball (1976)
The Grand Illusion (1977)
Pieces of Eight (1978)
Cornerstone (1979)
Paradise Theater (1981)
Kilroy Was Here (1983)
Edge of the Century (1990)
Brave New World (1999)
Cyclorama (2003)
Big Band Theory (2005)

Producer: Styx (Dennis DeYoung)
Engineers: Rob Kingsland, Gary Loizzo
Arranger: Styx
Mastering: Ted Jensen

Dan Barber - horn
Steve Eisen - saxophone
Mike Halpin - horn
John Haynor - horn
Mark Ohlson - horn
Billy Simpson - horn

Released 19/1-1981
Reviewed 8/3-2011


Thirty years, isn’t that something to celebrate? maybe it isn’t, depending on who you ask of course. It is however little over thirty years since this album Paradise Theatre (Paradise Theater, depending on which side you look at) was released. It is one of those albums that I grew up with, it being just slightly older than I am (tragically enough) and it was one of those albums from my parents’ record collection that fascinated me. I was very fascinated by the vinyl records at that time and especially those with interesting covers or other things and this was one of those albums that did fascinate me at the time much depending on an eye catching cover but also because any side you look at appear to be the front page, the gatefold is constructed in such a way that both sides of it looks like the front page. It also folds down rather than to the side as is common with these kind of covers. But that was not all as you would see when you opened up the cover and looked at the B-side of the disc which showed as really cool laser etching saying Styx flanked by the statues that flank the big window in the cover art, that is a really cool feat that I had not seen seen before, or since for that matter. It was of course not only the cover art and appearance of the record that caught my attention as you will read more of later.

This album was the fourth in a line of multiple platinum albums by Styx Starting with The Grand Illusion back in 1977. It was the first number one album for them and it also held a pair of top ten singles amongst which one was the only top ten penned by Tommy Shaw, more on that later. The subsequent tour was the most successful ever for Styx as well and overall I don’t think it is an overly bold statement to say that this album was probably the most successful ever for them. Another fun thing to add about this was the fact that they were accused of spreading backwards satanic messages in the song Snowblind which in reality is an anti drug song written by James Young, I have listened to it backwards for fun and you have to be quite imaginative to find any satanic messages there, or anything at all there to be honest and who listens to an album backwards in the first place? Moreover this album is a conceptual one telling a fictional story of the Chicago Paradise Theatre from its grand opening to its closing and eventual demise. This story was told as a metaphor for the changing times in america during the 70s and 80s just around the time for this album. This was confirmed by Dennis DeYoung in a TV-show about this album.

Anyway, musically it is rock/hardrock music, it can also be considered progressive rock music. For one thing it is very melodic, the band has three vocalists with quite different voices, sure they do play an instrument each as well, not only sing but they have three voices and the songs are quite varied i style from fast rockers to ballads. What is also prominent in the music of this albums are pianos, keys, horns and saxophone which gives this album a fairly unique place in the line of Styx album as it sounds as none other before or after it, much like most Styx albums released to be honest. It still has the Styx sound but still its own sound as well. The production of the album is clean and yet has this rock feel to it, it is also surprisingly fresh and modern as it is clean with a distinct sound much like many rock productions that are done today. So in difference to many other albums released around this time this album does not feel dated in any way, it feels almost as fresh as it was released this year which of course is an exaggeration as they do have better possibilities than they had back then but still the sound is very fresh and modern.

There are as much as eleven track on the album and they last for 40 minutes and 37 seconds which of course is a very good time for an album to last. That is one of the best thing of releasing albums in the vinyl format as they cannot be much longer than Paradise Theatre is and that of course mean that there is not much room for fillers which is good and there is also no room for too many songs that are too similar making the end of the record a waiting period for the album to end. There are five tracks on the A-side and six on the B-side.

The album starts with AD 1928 which introduces the concept of the Theatre and then leads into the big fat rocker giant song that is called Rockin’ the Paradise which I am sure most of you have heard the part just before the verse starts from, it is often played at hockey games that particular part. It is also one of my favourite fast rock songs ever as it has such great energy and the piano parts is such a great addition to such a song. It then continues with Tommy Shaw’s only top ten single in Too Much Time on My Hands which is a great song on of the best by Tommy, I especially like the hand clap in the chorus, it is pure genius that thing. After that comes Nothing Ever Goes as Planned which is the least fantastic track on the A-side but it is a great track nonetheless. The A-side ends with the most successful single of the album, The Best of Times which is one of the best of tracks with its balladic built and the mighty good vocals from Dennis DeYoung who lifts this song into the skies. And then it is curtain for the A-side.

The B-side starts with Lonely People that is one of the least interesting songs on this album, it is a good song but not amongst the one that really make their mark from this album, a breathing hole maybe. That track is followed by She Cares which is a Shaw Penned song with lots of energy and a great melody, a really great song and after that comes previously mentioned Snowblind which is a fantastic track. It is then followed by Half-penny, Two-penny which is a song by James Young and a really great track which has a great melody and it is well sung and a great song to listen to. Then comes the mirror to the intro track called AD 1958 which is about the demise of the theatre in the same style as the intro track, great ending of the concept that is nicely rounded of then with the final little piano piece. And when that has all played through you have heard one of the greatest albums of all time.

I hold this album as a top five album of all time for me, it is great from start to finish, the songs are varied and fantastic and the sound is very nice and fresh as well, not like Rainbow of the Dio era for instance which sound vert dated this is fresh and great. The variety of three singers as well as the use of horns, sax, piano and so on along with the very melodic rock sound makes this album what it is, a fantastic album that I have heard hundreds of times and I play it every week, it is just that great, I never get tired of it as it seems like there is always something new to discover within it.

The thing is also that this album is thirty years old, and it still works and has a production as well as song writing that is still ahead of much music we get to review that is released now and that is something I find to be really fantastic. The songs on the album are fantastic as well, it would not matter what kind of production they would use had the songs been less good than they are. I am really impressed by what they did at that time, too bad they are no longer as good.

In the end though there is only one thing to say: congratulations Paradise Theatre (Theater) to your thirty years in the record shelves.


Label - A&M Records
Three similar bands - Reo Speedwagon/Kansas/Damn Yankees
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm