styx albums ranked-The a&m records era 1975-1983

Styx holds a special place in my heart, my first concert was a Styx show in Rochester NY in November of 1979 at the Rochester War Memorial. They will return to Rochester this November, just in time for me to celebrate 40 years of loving Styx.

This list looks at the A & M Records Era from 1975-1983. Styx recorded one more album for A & M in 1990, but that was after a long hiatus, so that was not included on this list.

Seven was a lucky number for Styx, as fans of the band know, The band released their breakthrough album, "The Grand Illusion" on 7/7/77, and the group released seven albums during theier most commercially successful era from 1975-1983 ("Grand Illusion" was their seventh proper album, they released four albums on the Wooden Nickel record label)

You can click on any of the album images to order a copy from Amazon.

A list by Thom Jennings

7. crystal ball

There has to be an album at the bottom of the list, and this is a testament to how good this run of albums was for Styx. There are some standout tracks, and “Crystal Ball” remains an important entry point for Tommy Shaw, but the album came in at a little over 34 minutes, which may be due to the fact it was released less than a year after “Equinox.” The Shaw sung “Mademoiselle” deserves a spot on every Styx playlist, but seems to have been lost in the mix.

6.kilroy was here

An all-too often maligned album, “Kilroy” was to Styx what “The Wall” was to Pink Floyd in terms of having the power of the band clearly shift to the direction of DeYoung, much like “The Wall” saw the Pink Floyd shift towards Roger Waters’ material. “Mr. Roboto” is a Styx classic, but “Don’t Let it End” may be the best track on the album.

5.cornerstone

“Babe” is the track that gets all of the attention, but “Lights” and “Boat on the River” are two of the best songs Tommy Shaw has written or performed. The album represented a shift in the band’s sound from a progressive rock band with pop elements, to a popular sound with progressive elements. 

4. Equinox

If Styx gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this album will make the case for the late John Curulewski’s inclusion. Even though Tommy Shaw’s contribution to the Styx legacy cannot be denied, “J.C” played an important role on this album, and the songwriting and production on “Equinox” was light years ahead of The Wooden Nickel era. 

3.the grand illusion

If “Come Sail Away” was the only track on this album it would be an instant classic. Styx was firing on all cylinders as a group, and DeYoung, Shaw and J.Y all contributed stellar tracks on this album. The album struck the perfect balance between the progressive Wooden Nickel era, and the then newly evolving sound of the band.

2.paradise theatre

This was one of the classic lineup’s finest hours, with each member having an important contribution, “Paradise Theatre” is a sonic masterpiece filled with ear candy. If the reported backwards message was meant to entrance listeners, Styx didn’t need any help making this album sound perfect from start to finish. The harmonies, the energy, and even the power ballads are majestic.

1.pieces of eight

The album includes some iconic selections from the Styx catalogue, but the real strength of “Pieces of Eight” is the fact that it really is an album and not a collection of songs strung together with some filler. DeYoung and Shaw’s songwriting prowess is on full display, and the choruses are all booming. The band took full advantage of the success of “the Grand Illusion” and did what many bands could never do, record a follow up that was even better.