Styx - Cornerstone

Styx – Cornerstone


The Styx album ‘Cornerstone’ was a huge letdown for me after the glories of ‘The Grand Illusion’ and ‘Pieces Of Eight’.

Written by: gdmonline

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

LINEUP: Dennis DeYoung – 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 DeYoung proudly proclaiming ‘Don’t look now, but here come the 80’s..’ 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 80’s 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.

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