Crystal Ball

Not Rated

Although Crystal Ball doesn't have the immediate impact of its predecessor, Equinox, I still found it to be one of the most dynamic and satisfying rock albums of the year. Although Styx is based in Chicago, the group has its English scam down pat, from the Yes-like vocal harmonies on "Madamoiselle" to the slightly pretentious, somewhat pointless, nonetheless fun use of "Claire de Lune" as an intro to "Ballerina." Styx merges the cocky edge of the finest English outfits with the commercial sensibilities of the most successful American bands. Their songs are full of intelligent and interesting changes of direction ("Put Me On," the opening number, has at least three) yet they're always back on track in time for catchy choruses. The instrumentation, particularly the dual guitars of James Young and Tommy Shaw, always seems on the verge of going out of control, giving the whole album an extra surge of excitement.