DeYoung, Dennis - 26 East: Volume 1

Kev Rowland

Back in 1961, twin brothers Chuck (bass) and John Panozzo (drums) started playing music with their neighbour Dennis DeYoung. From that came the band Tradewinds, which in turn became TW4, and when they signed their first record deal, they changed the name again, this time to Styx. DeYoung will always be inextricably linked to that band, even though he has not been with them for some twenty years and listening to this album is like stepping back in time. This is deliberate, as the album title is actually the address where DeYoung grew up in Roseland, IL on the far south side of Chicago, opposite the Panozzo twins. There are many who seem to think that DeYoung was the person who always tried to downplay the rock guitar in Styx, but this album is as varied as any that band produced, and there are a few guitarists involved with this album, most notably Survivor’s Jim Peterik while The Storm’s Kevin Chalfant is providing backing vocals as well.

DeYoung is now in his Seventies, but his album shows he has no intention of slowing down, and in many ways could be seen as the logical musical follow-on from ‘Paradise Theatre’ (can that album really be nearly 40 years old now?). As one would expect from the person who has been described as the "father of the power ballad" there are plenty of those and his voice is just the same as it was in his heyday, but perhaps the most poignant is the last song on the album, “A.D. 2020” which takes us back indeed to the Paradise Theatre. “To The Good Old Days” features Dennis duetting with Julian Lennon, and is available as a video which celebrates his time with his family plus the Panozzo brothers (Shaw and Young are conspicuous by their absence, which perhaps isn’t surprising given the animosity between them). It is one of the most personal music videos I have ever seen, and it ends with DeYoung sat on the floor playing “A.D. 2020” on accordion, the instrument he first played in the band all those years ago. Simply put, this album is one of the best Styx albums I have heard in years and is probably on par with ‘Brave New World’, if not better.

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