Cornerstone (Styx album)

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Cornerstone
Styx - Cornerstone.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 19, 1979
Recorded1979
StudioPumpkin Studios, Oak Lawn, Illinois
GenreRock
Length38:17
LabelA&M
ProducerStyx
Styx chronology
Pieces of Eight
(1978)
Cornerstone
(1979)
Paradise Theatre
(1981)
Singles from Cornerstone
  1. "Babe"
    Released: September 1979
  2. "Why Me"
    Released: January 1980
  3. "Boat on the River"
    Released: March 16, 1980
  4. "Borrowed Time"
    Released: 1980
  5. "Lights"
    Released: 1980
Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4/5 stars [1]
Rolling Stone(mixed) [2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide1.5/5 stars [3]

Cornerstone is the ninth studio album by the American rock band Styx, released in 1979. Styx's third straight multi-platinum selling album, Cornerstone was Styx's only album to earn a Grammy nomination, which was for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.[4] Like the four previous Styx albums, the band produced the album themselves. Styx recorded the album at Pumpkin Studios in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

Cornerstone is best known for including the group's only #1 Billboard Hot 100 Single, the power ballad "Babe".[5] The album also includes the folk rock song "Boat on the River", which was a hit in Europe,[6][7] though it failed to chart in the United States.

Cornerstone became Styx's first US Top 5 album, peaking at #2 on the Billboard album chart.[8]

Background[edit]

The album represented a musical transition for Styx, as the band emphasized its pop sound more than the progressive rock influences that dominated their first eight studio albums.[9] Peaking at #2, the album was Styx's highest album chart peak until its successor, 1981's Paradise Theatre, which hit #1.[10]

From a songwriting standpoint, Cornerstone is dominated by Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw-- each is credited as sole songwriter or co-writer for five tracks on the album (including two collaborations between the pair).

Consistent with most of Styx's catalog from 1975 to 1983, DeYoung's contributions to Cornerstone found the most success on the charts. The first single to be released was also to become Styx's only US #1 single: "Babe", which DeYoung wrote as a birthday present for his wife Suzanne.[11] The track was first performed and recorded as a demo with just him and the Panozzo brothers, but A&M executives heard the track and insisted it go on the album.[11] Shaw overdubbed a guitar solo in the song's middle section.[11]

"First Time", another power ballad also written by DeYoung, was intended to be Cornerstone's second single. Shaw, however, expressed concern that releasing two ballads in a row would alienate the band's hard rock fan base. He felt strongly enough that he threatened to leave the band over the proposed release.[9] The upbeat song "Why Me" (once again written by DeYoung) was chosen instead, reaching #26 on the charts.[12] The division was strong enough that DeYoung was briefly fired from the band, although he was invited back before word reached the press or public.[13][14]

Shaw's major contribution to the album was the folkish "Boat on the River", which became the band's biggest European hit.[6] Shaw's other contributions included the pop-rocker "Never Say Never," the Shaw/DeYoung album-opener "Lights", the more progressively-flavored song "Love in the Midnight", and "Borrowed Time", a DeYoung/Shaw collaboration.

James Young had one song on the album, the hard rocker "Eddie", which was aimed at Edward Kennedy, pleading with him not to make a run for the U.S. presidency. Young used a guitar-synthesizer solo.

Instrumentally, the album demonstrated the shift to a more pop-oriented and organic sound.[9] DeYoung predominantly used a Fender Rhodes electric piano on over half of the tracks, and the group used real horns and strings on the album on several tracks. While commercially successful, Cornerstone brought to light the first fragmenting of the group's collective artistic vision. These divisions would continue to deepen, ultimately leading to Styx's dissolution following the release of the 1983 album, Kilroy Was Here.

Track listing[edit]

Side one
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."Lights"Shaw, DeYoungShaw4:38
2."Why Me"DeYoungDeYoung3:54
3."Babe"DeYoungDeYoung4:25
4."Never Say Never"ShawShaw3:08
5."Boat on the River"ShawShaw3:10
Side two
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
6."Borrowed Time"DeYoung, ShawDeYoung4:58
7."First Time"DeYoungDeYoung4:25
8."Eddie"YoungYoung4:15
9."Love in the Midnight"ShawShaw5:25

Personnel[edit]

Styx[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]

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 (United States)

Year Chart Position
1979 Billboard 200 2

Singles

Year Single Chart Position
1979 "Babe" Billboard Hot 100 1
1980 "Borrowed Time" 63
"Why Me" 26
"Boat on the River" German Singles 5
Switzerland Singles 1
Lights German Singles 35

References[edit]

  1. ^ DeGagne, Mike. Styx: Cornerstone at AllMusic. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Rolling Stone album review by David Fricke (13.12.1979): Styx - Cornerstone (1979)
  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. rolling stone styx album guide.
  4. ^ "Styx". GRAMMY.com. 2019-06-04. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  5. ^ "1979 Archive". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  6. ^ a b "Styx - Boat On The River - hitparade.ch". www.swisscharts.com. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  7. ^ "Offizielle Deutsche Charts - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". www.offiziellecharts.de. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  8. ^ "Top 200 Albums | Billboard 200 chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  9. ^ a b c Classic Rock (2016-02-06), Styx- Behind The Music (Full Documentary), retrieved 2019-07-24
  10. ^ "Top 200 Albums | Billboard 200 chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  11. ^ a b c "Dennis DeYoung navigated Styx into classic rock history". Naples Daily News. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits: 8th Edition. Record Research. p. 611.
  13. ^ "Hard Rock bio on Styx". Archived from the original on 2006-04-27. Retrieved 2006-08-31.
  14. ^ VH-1: Behind the Music Remastered

External links[edit]