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Crystal Meth

Overall Album Score: 6.1 out of 10

Look in the crystal ball, and what do you see????

I look in this Crystal Ball and I see a lot of doodie!

That guy with the bloody funny name has departed the band and Mr. Great Himself (Tommy Shaw) has entered. And, incidentally, this is where the band firmly establishes its over-produced (but, well-produced usually, to be frank) and typically inoffensive sound that we hear all-too-often on classic rock radio.

But ... I never hear any of these songs on the classic rock radio! ... Um ... *getting an Apollo 13 moment* ... Houston, we have a problem!!

What good is a Styx album (especially a Shaw-era album) without a hit on it? ... I mean, it's completely arguable whether the albums with the hits on it are useful for anything other than decoration for dog poop, but ... an album like Crystal Ball goes beyond that!

Oh, where do I start? ... It's almost amazing how toneless some of these songs are! It's almost like Styx went to great lengths producing these songs, thinking it was the greatest thing ever delivered to mankind, but they forgot that there wasn't a melody! ... BLAGH!!!! "Shooz" pretty much defines this ... and other completely banal songs in here such as "Put Me On" and "Jennifer" are just as empty and useless. The best song on here quite easily is, incidentally, the Tommy-Shaw-penned title track! ... The melody not only exists, but it is quite good throughout the entire song (which isn't the case in other songs, such as "Ballerina").

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... Why don't you Styx fans listen to Yes or something? Do us all a favor!

Overall Album Score: 6.1 out of 10 (A bit shocked that the first "classic" Styx album warranted one of their lowest scores? ... You shouldn't be!)

Average Song Score: 6.2 (A few decent moments intermixed with a bunch of big fat nothings.)

Album Tilt: 6.0 (This album is about as essential to rock as bikini-clad women wrestling in creamed corn is essential to regular people.)

Artist Rating: 6.0 (Style and no substance! ... But at least they seem to care about this style.)

Track Reviews

Put Me On 5/10

This starts out like a bad version of some type of Bach song that just repeats one bar of notes over and over again ... a bunch of toneless, rapidly-paced notes that sound like they should have been played on the organ. And that leads to the rest of the song ... Yeah! This turns into a regular old bombastic Styx song, finalizing their transition to the Styx of Grand Illusion-ville. Except whereas songs on Grand Illusion have melodies that are by-and-large passable, it's almost surprising how toneless this melody is! ... The rough bit after the pseudo-Bach has absolutely NO hooks in it. There's an abrupt and unnatural change to a calmer song, which is much better, but the melody is about as unmemorable as The Martin Short Show. And then there's another abrupt change to a completely annoying rough part again ... Geez! Styx sux!! This song is a remarkable mess!

Mademoiselle 7/10

...MUCHHHHHHH better, thank goodness. They stumble upon a few good hooks on this song, and the instrumentation was done pretty well on this song (even though ... it's not exactly great in the Genesis sense of the term). The choppiness of the song could have been more annoying than it is. This song kinda gets more difficult to listen to as it goes along, however.

Jennifer 5/10

This has me longing for that Eurythmics song! ... Which is amazing because I didn't like that song until now! ... This song doesn't really have any merit. It's the typical classic-era Styx pomposity combined with no melody and somewhat formidable instrumentation and production. It's not like I have no clue why Styx has been so popular ... melody just isn't important to some people!

Crystal Ball 8/10

The first Styx song to be exclusively written by Tommy Shaw ... is pretty good, actually! Well, it's good in spots. It starts out as a folksy thing with a decent melody ... then it explodes into something not too pleasant, but it's been worse (...Shaw must be the one responsible for Styx's stupid choruses all the time! DORK!!!!) The instrumental interlude after that isn't very bad, even though its inclusion seemed unnatural. Then there's that pompous chorus again. ... Well, this isn't a great song by any means, but at least it's not total crap!

Shooz 4/10

Really, there are very few hard rock songs as worthless as this! UGH!!!!!!!! The song might know how to rock, but ... geez! Have you ever heard more annoying guitar licks in your life? ... This song is certainly produced well enough to sound like a real (commercially-viable) rock song, but ... this was totally misguided! It seems like so much effort was put into producing this, but there's nothing to latch onto. This is just suck!

This Old Man 7/10

What's with the Pepsi commercial in the middle of this song? ... I don't know. ... I just wish Styx would quit now before I go totally mental from reviewing these songs! (Psssssss! Ahhhhhh! ... WHAT IS THAT?!?!??!?) This is another unabashedly bombastic song ... that's actually not too bad. At least the melody works (or maybe it's the constant chord changing I like). ... I think it's a decent song for Styx, but don't get carried away. They are pretentious boogars.

Claire De Lune / Ballerina 7/10

Claude Debussy comes back from the dead to give Styx a song! THANKS CLAUDE!!!!! (...Honestly, if Styx really has to put little excerpts of classical songs in their albums, why can't they do something a little more obscure???? ... Oh wait, I forgot. They're fishing for pop appeal.) When the "Ballerina" section of the song strikes up ... it's very nice for awhile. The melody is simple, but it's catchy and the pompous song arrangement makes it soar. After that bit, the melody suddenly becomes unmemorable, the arrangements become even more pompous and ... this is nothing you really need in life. Bagagagggg!!!

Think about calling me a dope? You can do it here!

All reviews are copyrighted by Michael Lawrence. Blue blue, electric blue, that's the color of my room where I will live.