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Articles Home » 1979 Articles » Styx - 1979 Cornerstone
Styx - 1979 Cornerstone

ALBUM: Cornerstone
YEAR: 1979
CD REISSUE: 1990, A&M, CD 3239


LINEUP: Dennis De Young - lead vocals, keyboards * Tommy Shaw - lead vocals, guitars * James Young - guitars, lead vocals * Chuck Panozzo - bass, vocals * John Panozzo - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Lights * 02 Why Me * 03 Babe * 04 Never Say Never * 05 Boat On The River * 06 Borrowed Time * 07 First Time * 08 Eddie * 09 Love In The Midnight


1979 from recollection, was a wonderful year for me in terms of discovering music. Having found mid-west band Styx earlier in the year with their 'Pieces Of Eight' album, and subsequently buying their 'Grand Illusion' album shortly after, I was in high anticipation awaiting their new album 'Cornerstone' which was to be released mid-year. I did hear a pre-release of the single 'Babe' on NZ radio and I was not impressed. With frowned face I tentatively purchased the album only to have my worst fears realised. 'Cornerstone' was not what I expected, and sadly, I hid the album at the back of my record collection forever and a day.

The Songs
The album offered up some unusual flavours which might have worked well for fans of British pop and Beatles like mania, but the hard rockers among us might have wondered where the Styx sting had disappeared to, especially following on from the hard as nails 'Pieces Of Eight' album. 'Lights' as the opening tune has a touch of the whimsicals, while 'Why Me' has a Supertramp vibe to it with a strong Wurlitzer presence. The mix of lead guitar and saxophone is strange to say the least. Nothing more needs to be said about the track 'Babe', a mega-selling ballad, and one in which was heard across every Prom Night party in the USA during 1979. 'Never Say Never' with its acoustic touch and big choruses acts as a go-between between commercial pop and rock, the latter losing out unfortunately. Tommy Shaw takes control with mandolin on 'Boat On The River'.. an exotic European flavoured ditty, but sadly out of place on this album. The first sign of aggression on the album comes with track 6 'Borrowed Time', the wailing guitar feedback finally makes way for some pure rock, with Dennis De Young proudly proclaiming 'Don't look now, but here come the eighties..' Dennis takes center stage for another ballad 'This Time', which by Styx's past track record, pales into insignificance. James Young powers in on 'Eddie', this track is another one going nowhere fast, particularly as JY's vocals are nowhere near as good as Dennis or Tommy. Getting somewhere back to past glories is 'Love In The Midnight', but by now, the interest has well and truly been drained, and as good as this might be, the fact that it is on this album means that it is guilty by association.

In Summary
At the close of one decade and the commencement of another, Styx were voted America's most popular rock band in a 1979 Gallup Poll. It is such a pity that their downhill run commenced with this album - in my opinion. The rest of their material in the eighties ended up as a mixture of vaudeville and rock opera, but by now, my interest in Styx had ceased altogether. 'Cornerstone' for me was a huge letdown after the glories of 'The Grand Illusion' and 'Pieces Of Eight', and though this album went double-platinum, it didn't sit in my musical consciousness for very long. You can read more about Styx on this site, through the reviews listed below.

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#1 | richardb on February 26 2008 13:32:50
I think you're being a tad harsh. OK it's not 'Pieces of eight part 2' but it does have it's moments. De Young has always expressed a theatric side (e.g.'Superstars', 'Great white hope') which was deployed to great effect on 'Paradise Theatre'.

If we're talking of 'sell out' what about 'Hot space'?. As long term devotee of Queen I found this far harder to stomach!

Richard B
#2 | gdazegod on February 26 2008 18:56:34
Yes, I will admit to being harsh Richard. I make no apologies for that. Others might see this album in a different light, but after 29 years, my views on it haven't changed one bit.. sorry to say. helpless
#3 | Eric on February 26 2008 19:59:03
'Hot Space' wasn't as much a 'sell-out' as an experimental record, influenced by the group Chic and dance music something both Mercury and Deacon were into at the time. There was some great stuff on the record and I like it much better than I did back in '82. I like 'Cornerstone' although not as much as 'Equinox' and I like the e-piano production on 'Babe' but the band were getting tired here and it's obvious with stuff like 'First Time' and 'Never Say Never' which we heard one to two albums earlier.
#4 | jefflynnefan on February 27 2008 05:36:41
I really like 'Cornerstone'. It is my second favorite Styx album. I can still listen to it all the way through without wanting to skip a song. Can't say that with some of their other albums. It came out when all other bands were kind of selling out to the disco sound in 1979 as Richard sorta mentioned with Queen. I remember when my favorite band ELO came out with 'Discovery' that year. I was mad as hell. Disco Jeff! He was dressed in satin, his hair was cut short, and he had a manicure! Jeez, and had lyrics like 'little darling don't you cry, you know I'll be there with you, bye and bye'. It took me a few years to appreciate 'Discovery'. 'Xanadu' wasn't any better and it's a wonder that Bev didn't chuck his drum kit into Thames! Split Enz came out with 'True Colors' in 1979 which I really liked at the time too. But Cornerstone and Point of no Return were good around that time I thought.
#5 | gdazegod on February 27 2008 08:07:43
I tried to like it, but I have to say (in Styx's defence), I was veering to harder more metallish tastes around that timeframe.. Judas Priest, Van Halen, Frank Marino, UFO, Scorpions etc were all well on my radar, but I still kept a toehold in the pomp/prog camp with Styx, Kansas, Rush etc.
#6 | rkbluez on March 06 2008 01:19:40
My second least favorite Styx was way too mellow as a whole but had some decent songs...Killroy was by far the low point of Styx's catalog
#7 | chewie on July 18 2010 18:45:01
Only three songs work for me on this album: Lights(which for some reason reminds me of Camel... maybe the Nude album?), Boat On The River and Love In The Midnight.
#8 | trillion1999 on October 10 2011 23:34:12
I loved it when I first heard it bought together for under 4 dollars with City Boy The Day The Earth Caught Fire.Today I still love Lights,Why Me and like every other song before Eddie.I do not skip the last two but they tend to drag somewhat IMHO.Sad because it feels the last song illustrates the concept of the cover.rolleyes*blushing*
#9 | super80boy on May 18 2014 19:19:16
After the two previous stellar efforts, Cornerstone sounds like it was created to focus on FM radio viability; with it's commercially toned down arrangements. Of course there is the mega ballad 'Babe', but the third album single 'Why Me', which didn't fare as well, is excellent. 'Boat On The River' is forgettable with it's mandolin tangents and I can't believe it was a slated single for the Europe market. Thankfully there is still pompous keyboard action and cranking guitars on the album's second single 'Borrowed Time'. The vinyl version has quite cool packaging, it folds out in two flaps on the back side and then it has a sturdy cardboard silver artwork laced inner sleeve that slips inside a folder slit.
#10 | englandashes on May 26 2014 16:03:49
'Boat On The River', is hardly forgettable, as I remember it actually being played on the Radio in the UK at the time, with the emergence of a lot of folk rock inspired groups today it was bit of a forerunner.
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