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Dennis DeYoung: 26 EAST: Volume 1

I consider myself to be a bit of a fan of Dennis DeYoung. Given that Styx had already had their biggest moments and gone their differing ways before I could vote, I probably hoovered up their various solo recordings before I got all the early Styx stuff �" I'm a bit of a collector. As an aside, I recently revisited my vinyl copy of Boomchild, and it doesn't hold up well. I like DDY when he's at his most progressive, I mean who doesn't love "Come Sail Away"? I was thrilled that he went back to the rocky/proggy style on 2007's One Hundred Years From Now and on 26 EAST: Volume 1 he mostly sticks within the genre marked rock and not smack bang in the middle of the road. He's also got the God-like genius of Jim Peterik on board as well alongside other Pride of Lions alumni which plays into both of their theatrical bents.

It's also pertinent to point out that Dennis DeYoung is 73 years old but on 26 EAST: Volume 1 one would be hard pressed to tell. The album opens with one of the singles, "East Of Midnight" which has a suggestion of "The Grand Illusion" at the beginning and has some delicious keyboards in the mid-section. Despite it being the lead single and opening song, I initially thought it to be one of the weaker tracks on view. I was wrong; more than once I have found myself walking down the streets in a socially isolated manner humming the song. "With All Due Respect" follows along next and is a fun dissection of the world of fake news and news personalities. DeYoung has always commented on the world around and here he calls the commentariat 'assholes,' living in their ivory towers. It's a fun track whereas "A Kingdom Ablaze" is more rockier and doesn't have any Stygian vibe to it at all but does end all too soon as if it wasn't complete which is disappointing.

You're probably expecting a ballad right about now and "You My Love" is up next but it's not ultra-syrupy a la "Babe". DDY has always had a way with a ballad and "You My Love" is no exception to the rule. There was a time when a song like this would have been a massive hit. "Run For the Roses" and "Damn That Dream" are the two of most Broadway like tunes on the album mainly because of their OTT nature. The latter really does have a Pride of Lions whiff about it although there's no information as to which five songs are co-written by Jim Peterik. It could be osmosis?

"Unbroken" starts softly using weather metaphors before building into an effective mid-tempo pop rocker with an uplifting chorus and underlying message whilst "The Promise Of This Land" is a classic De Young ballad full of pomp and bombast. That said it would probably fit very well on his Hunchback album although the instrumental breakdown is pretty proggy if not long enough. The final real song is the lovely single "To The Good Old Days" which features the recently exhumed Julian Lennon. Given that there is to be a second volume I'm surprised that this song isn't the last one on that album. It's a truly beautiful, reflective treatise on the past and if you haven't seen the video, do so immediately.

I've oscillated between 3.5 and 4 stars as a mark but plumped for 4 stars as DDY fans will totally dig the album for what it is. On balance I probably prefer The Mission album by Styx but this might just be the best album produced by any member or indeed former outside the mothership.

Track Listing:

  1. East Of Midnight 
  2. With All Due Respect
  3. A Kingdom Ablaze
  4. You My Love
  5. Run For The Roses
  6. Damn That Dream
  7. Unbroken
  8. The Promise Of This Land
  9. To The Good Old Days
  10. A.D. 2020

Added: May 22nd 2020
Reviewer: Simon Bray
Related Link: Artist Website
Hits: 193
Language: english

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