“I’ve always felt Dennis DeYoung’s post Styx albums tend to be hit and miss – some songs work, some fail spectacularly, however I was pleasantly surprised as ‘Boomchild’ is easily the most consistent of his 1980’s solo output and at times echoes his former glories with Styx.
Written by: Richard B
ARTIST: Dennis DeYoung
SERIAL: MCA-42162 (LP), MCAD-42162 (CD)
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Dennis DeYoung – keyboards, piano, synthesizers, vocals
Additional Musicians: Tom Dziallo, Bill Ruppert – guitars * John Adair – guitars, acoustic guitar * Bob Lizik – bass * John Robinson – drums * Joe Pusateri – percussion * Jeffrey Vanston – synthesizers, piano, bass * Howard Levy – harmonica (2, 6) * Wayne Stewart – drums (6) * Chris Cameron – additional synthesizers (6) * Steve Eisen – tenor saxophone (6) * Mike Smith – baritone saxophone (6) * Mark Ohlson, Obert Davis – trumpet (6) * Mike Halperin – trombone (6) * Mark Williamson, Jeff Morrow, Gary Pigg, Tamara Champlin, Bill Champlin, Dawn Feusi, Gary Loizzo, The 101st Place Singers, Sean Christopher, Francine Smith, Cynthia Harrell, Dennis DeYoung – additional backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Beneath The Moon * 02 The Best Is Yet To Come * 03 What A Way To Go * 04 Harry’s Hands * 05 Boomchild * 06 Who Shot Daddy? * 07 Outside Looking In Again * 08 Won’t Get Wasted
WEBLINKS: Site Link
I’m a huge Styx fan and like many readers of this site, they along with Boston, Foreigner, Journey, Toto et al, formed the soundtrack to my teenage years and BEYOND. For me, there was always the sense of something magical in those Styx songs penned by DeYoung – ‘The Grand Illusion’ and ‘Come Sail Away’ are two songs in particular that have left a lasting impression on me.
I’ve always felt Dennis DeYoung’post Styx albums tend to be hit and miss – some songs work, some fail spectacularly, I remember being disappointed with his previous solo outings ‘Desert Moon’ and ‘Back To The World’ and therefore approached ‘Boomchild’ with a fair amount of trepidation.
I was pleasantly surprised as ‘Boomchild’ is easily the most consistent of his 1980’s solo output and at times echoes his former glories with Styx. I ‘Beneath The Moon’ is a power ballad with chugging guitars and a typically emotive, soaring vocal performance from DeYoung.
‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ has an unusual, staccato rhythm but Tom Dziallo’s biting guitar keeps it firmly planted in Rockville – the guitar/keyboard interplay has an almost Saga like vibe. ‘What A Way Go’ is the type of mid tempo song that DeYoung excels at – it’s tempered beginnings swelling into a majestic chorus.
Whereas Styx‘s ‘Rockin’ The Paradise’ at the start of the 80’s had a presented a positive upbeat tone, ‘Harry’s Hands’ is the flip side of the America dream. A stirring epic, it is a paen to those blue collar Americans who were the victims of ‘Reaganomics’ and the turbulent changes in the world economy..
DeYoung produces a mesmerising performance, singing with such utter conviction it’s guaranteed to have grown men crying into their beer. I’m not ashamed to admit that even listening to this song just now, it brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat.
‘Boomchild’ is a high energy rocker where Tom Dziallo’s fiery guitar and DeYoung’s keyboard interplay really comes into its own. DeYoung speaks to his generation in a way they can relate to – his clever lyrics weaving a suitably nostalgic (and optimistic) tone.
Given the current strained relations with my eldest son (he’s entering puberty – enough said) ‘Who Shot Daddy?’ could be viewed as a personal epitaph, though in this instance it’s an anti-drugs song.
‘Outside Looking In’ is a stylish affair, featuring some terrific solo guitar on the fade out. ‘Won’t Get Wasted’ is similarly atmospheric, embellished by Tom Dziallo’s power chords and some classy vocal harmonies.
At his best DeYoung is the consummate showman, although at his worst his sense of theatrics can border on the kitsch (e.g. ‘Kilroy Was Here’ being a step too far for me). ‘Boomchild’ is compelling evidence of the man at the top of his game and an album I play as regularly as anything he produced in his heyday with Styx.
On a final note, as someone who is a huge fan of the man (but not always his music) it is pleasing to note that he appears to be enjoying something of a renaissance in his mid-60’s touring and performing the music of Styx – probably to the chagrin of Messrs Shaw and Young.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)