Styx has a real good track record lately in my opinion. I felt that the group was having troubles moving in a successful direction while hanging on to lead songwriter Dennis DeYoung. I thought the 2003 release, Cyclorama, was a true return to form with Tommy Shaw now at the helm. They’ve replaced DeYoung with the very capable Lawrence Gowan, who is a favorite of mine since hearing his Lost Brotherhood album from 1990. This is an excellent move, as he brings a freshness to the group unheard in years.
One With Everything is a live performance with the band doing some of their many hits and a few other interesting choices with the assistance of the Contemporary Youth Orchestra including 115 musicians and a 56 voice choir led by Music Director Liza Grossman. There is an undeniable power and excitement evident in this presentation. Unfortunately the production value is muddy and the choir is poorly recorded. The voices from the choir sound like an audience bootleg! The orchestra is recorded slightly better, but still there are some issues. I know that this sort of recording can be successful, as I’ve heard Yes’ Symphonic Live with an orchestra and that was amazing.
It begins with “Blue Collar Man,” where the band is unquestionably tight. They continue with the title track “One With Everything,” where the orchestra and chorus seem to finally start catching up to the energy of the band. The two choices from Styx’s last album of all covers, Big Bang Theory, seem rather odd with a Willie Dixon song and the Beatle’s “I Am the Walrus.” The latter gives an opportunity for Gowan to take the mike and he does a great job covering the Beatles from their most psychedelic period. I might have preferred some of the other great songs covered on B.B.T. like “Can’t Find My Way Home” or “Manic Depression” though.
Of course the band won’t play any of the DeYoung hits like “Come Sail Away,” “Babe” or “Lady.” The band more than make up for it with the other longtime lead singer/songwriter’s material like “Miss America” where James Young takes over lead vocals. Tommy Shaw is represented as well with “Fooling Yourself,” “Renegade” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” The band also does my all-time favorite Styx tune in Tommy’s “Crystal Ball.” Lawrence Gowan even takes a turn performing a selection from his solo career with “A Criminal Mind.”
The band throws in a couple of new songs, “Everything, All the Time” and “Just Be.” The latter is the only studio recorded track on the CD and is a strong power ballad, well worth listening to.
I’m a little mixed in my ability to recommend this CD. Perhaps the DVD reveals some nuances that I cannot perceive with an audio-only recording. I suppose if you are a fan of the band, you will enjoy this CD as I did. If you are not a fan, One With Everything will not convince you. Try Equinox, Grand Illusion or Crystal Ball for an excellent representation of this band at the peak of their craft.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on February 7th, 2007