Dennis DeYoung - 26 East: Volume 1

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Fans of classic rock band Styx have really had it good lately as both Styx and former lead vocalist Dennis DeYoung performing the music of Styx have been touring regularly. And now DeYoung has released his sixth solo album, the title of which refers to the address of DeYoung's one-time residence on Chicago's south side, significant because that is where, in the basement, Styx was formed. So reminiscence is a big part of this record, and the effort begins with "East of Midnight," a cut about the joy and perhaps salvation that music brings to a young soul, clearly autobiographical (DeYoung says it was inspired by his love for the Beatles) but in such a way that many will hear it as their own story. With big synth flourishes, a hooky melody and lush harmony vocals, the song is instantly recognizable as being out of the Styx camp. Manic chanting, playfully derogatory and without music behind it, serves as an introduction to "With All Due Respect;" eventually Jim Peterik's guitar erupts and the song begins in earnest. DeYoung is not generally known for being so pointed, but the song minces no words as its first chorus proclaims "With all due respect/You are an a**hole!" Obviously fans will love singing along to this one while thinking about an a*hole they've known, whether it be a former friend, an ex-lover or a loathed boss. A little bit of a Pink Floyd vibe mixes with the Styx sound on "A Kingdom Ablaze," sweet harmony vocals carry "Unbroken," another reflective and hopeful cut, and DeYoung duets with Julian Lennon in a similar mood on "To the Good Old Days." The album ends with the one-minute cut "A.D. 2020," where DeYoung seems to be saying goodbye to his fans. With boundless energy on stage and no indication that he is retiring though, fans should not read too much into his closing words; the lyrics just indicate the end of this particular remembrance. Plus, this record's title includes Volume 1, so there's got to be a Volume 2, right?

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