Cornerstone (Styx album)

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Cornerstone
Studio album by Styx
Released October 19, 1979
Recorded 1979 at Pumpkin Studios, Oak Lawn, Illinois
Genre Rock
Length 38:17
Label A&M
Producer Styx
Styx chronology
Pieces of Eight
(1978)
Cornerstone
(1979)
Paradise Theatre
(1981)
Singles from Cornerstone
  1. "Babe"
    Released: September 1979
  2. "Why Me"
    Released: December 1979
  3. "Borrowed Time"
    Released: 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[1]
Rolling Stone (mixed)[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 1.5/5 stars[3]

Cornerstone is the ninth studio album by Styx, released in 1979 (see 1979 in music).

Cornerstone was Styx's follow-up to their second consecutive Top 10 selling Triple Platinum album in a row, 1978's Pieces of Eight.

Like the four previous Styx albums, the band produced the album themselves once again. However, the band started using a new recording studio Pumpkin Studios in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Plus, the album was the first where the band shied away from the art-rock/prog-rock influences that dominated their first eight studio albums and was the band's first move towards a more pop/rock direction (band member Dennis DeYoung stated in a 2009 interview that the change in direction came from reading bad reviews the group got in the rock press while on their first tour of England).

Dennis DeYoung had two ballads on the album. The first was the album's first single and Styx's only US #1 single "Babe" which Dennis wrote for his wife Suzanne. The track was performed and recorded as a demo with just him and the Panozzo brothers but then James Young and Tommy Shaw heard the track and decided to put it on Cornerstone with Shaw overdubbing a guitar solo in the song's middle section. Another ballad was the power ballad "First Time" which was intended to be Cornerstone's second single (radio stations were playing it and got such a response that A&M wanted it out) until Shaw complained and threatened to leave the band. "Borrowed Time" was released instead, reaching a disappointing #63 on the charts. DeYoung also wrote the Top 30 hit, the poppish "Why Me", which was the third single release from the album. Dennis predominantly used a Fender Rhodes electric piano on over half of the tracks. Also, the group used real horns and strings on the album on several tracks.

DeYoung and Shaw co-wrote two tracks. The opening "Lights" was music by DeYoung and Shaw with lyrics by Shaw (who also sang the track). The rocking "Borrowed Time" had music by DeYoung (intro) and Shaw with lyrics from DeYoung (who sang this track). "Borrowed Time" would open concerts on the group's tour in support of Cornerstone nicknamed The Grand Decathlon tour.

Shaw's famous song on the album was the folkish "Boat on the River", which became the band's biggest European hit. He also penned the pop-rocker "Never Say Never" and the epic proggish closer "Love in the Midnight," which has been sampled to create the hip-hop song "The Streets Been Good to Me" by the artist Maino, on the album "Death before Dishonor".

JY contributed the rocker "Eddie", which was about Edward Kennedy, pleading with him not to make a run for the U.S. presidency.

Cornerstone became Styx's first US Top 5 album peaking at #2 on the Billboard album chart and is currently sitting at Double Platinum according to the R.I.A.A. although A&M said it went Triple Platinum (3 million copies sold in the US).

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Lights" (Shaw, DeYoung) – 4:38
    • Lead vocals and guitar fills: Shaw
    • Lead guitar: James Young
  2. "Why Me" (DeYoung) – 3:54
    • Lead vocals: DeYoung
    • Lead guitar: Young
    • Saxophone solo: Steve Eisen
  3. "Babe" (DeYoung) – 4:25
    • Lead vocals: DeYoung
    • Lead guitar: Shaw
  4. "Never Say Never" (Shaw) – 3:08
    • Lead vocals: Shaw
  5. "Boat on the River" (Shaw) – 3:10
  6. "Borrowed Time" (DeYoung, Shaw) – 4:58
    • Lead vocals: DeYoung
    • Lead guitar: Shaw
  7. "First Time" (DeYoung) – 4:24
    • Lead vocals: DeYoung
    • Lead guitar: Young
  8. "Eddie" (Young) – 4:15
    • Lead vocals, lead guitar and guitar synthesizers: Young
  9. "Love in the Midnight" (Shaw) – 5:25
    • Lead vocals: Shaw
    • Synthesizer solo: DeYoung
    • Lead guitar: Young

Personnel[edit]

Styx[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

  • Steve Eisen - saxophone
  • Arnie Roth - strings on "First Time" and "Love in the Midnight"
  • Ed Tossing - horn

Production[edit]

  • Producer: Styx
  • Engineers: Rob Kingsland, Gary Loizzo
  • Horn arranger: Ed Tossing
  • String arranger: Arnie Roth
  • Design: Mick Haggerty
  • Photography: Aaron Rapoport
  • Mastering: Ted Jensen

Charts[edit]

Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
1979 Billboard 200 2

Singles - Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
1979 "Babe" Billboard Hot 100 1
1980 "Borrowed Time" Billboard Hot 100 63
1980 "Why Me" Billboard Hot 100 26

Singles - Germany

Year Single Chart Position
1980 "Boat on the River" Singles 1

Singles - Switzerland

Year Single Chart Position
1980 "Boat on the River" Singles 1

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allmusic review
  2. ^ Rolling Stone review
  3. ^ Brackett, Nathan; Christian Hoard (2004). The Rolling Stone Album Guide. New York City, New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 789. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.