DeYoung, Dennis - 26 East: Volume 2,
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 the address where DeYoung grew up in Roseland, IL on the far south side of Chicago, opposite the Panozzo twins. This is the follow-up to his 2020 album, and it would be no surprise to hear if they had been recorded at the same time as this is a direct continuation. There is quite a large cast of musicians involved in this one, with Dennis providing vocals, keyboards, synth bass then there are four drummers, five guitarists, a couple of bassists, some horn players and many backing singers. But it never seems over the top, but rather has a very band feel indeed.
Dennis has said this will be his final studio album and given is he now 75 years old he surely has nothing left to prove, but if this had been released back in 1982 as the follow-up to ‘Paradise Theatre’ no-one would have been surprised as musically that is where this belongs. Just play “Last Guitar Hero” and imagine James and Tommy blasting this out, it certainly sounds like Styx at its best. Both guitarists have repeatedly said there will never be a reunion with Dennis, but given he wrote seven of their eight biggest Billboard hits one has to wonder how much they miss those skills. We have ballads, we have rockers, and a voice which is as clear and powerful as it ever was back in the day. Here we have a musician who is going out on an absolute high, and if has indeed retired then he can look back at an incredible career with material which has always been of the absolute highest quality. For fans of melodic rock, fans of DeYoung, fans of Styx in particular, this is superb.