8/10

When Dennis DeYoung last year released “26 EAST: Volume 1”, his first solo album since “One Hundred Years from Now” released in 2007/2009 (Canada/US), the expectations were quite high that we would get some great music in the style of classic Styx. Well, there were a couple of good tracks but most of them didn’t really reach that level of greatness. So, when “Volume 2” was released this summer, the expectations wasn’t as high. This time, however, Dennis managed to deliver a great album. I don’t like all the songs and it doesn’t always sounds like Styx, but most of the songs are very good. On four of the tracks Dennis collaborated with Jim Peterik, formerly of Survivor. In my opinion this is Dennis strongest collection of songs since his contributions to “Pieces of Eight” in 1978.

Let’s take a look at the songs:

“Hello Goodbye” is a great and clever tribute to the Beatles and their impact on the writer. Apart from being an excellent pop song there are lots of Beatles references in the lyrics and the music. One of the better songs on the album.

“Land Of the Living” is a pretty good song somewhere on the border between pop and rock. Upbeat but hardly in the style of Styx.

“The Last Guitar Hero” is the first rocker on the album, with an amazing guitar solo by Tom Morello. The refrain sounds very much like Styx, unlike the rest of the song, due to the excellent harmony vocals. A song that has grown on me.

“Your Saving Grace”, no, this is not for me, as this is a boring ballad with a touch of gospel and maybe some Abba influences. But for those of you who like ballads it’s probably a great track.

“Proof Of Heaven” was actually released on video, with Jim Peterik, last year. I wasn’t that impressed then, but the song has grown on me. Maybe a bit soft but still with great energy and lots of cool parts. Due to the Styx like harmonies in the refrain it’s probably one of the better songs on the album.

“Made For Each Other” is yet another ballad. Not really my cup of tea, but still much better than “Your Saving Grace”. This is almost in the style of the last three Styx albums before the breakup after “Killroy was here”.

“There’s No Turning Back Time”, now we’re talking. This is probably the albums best track. An amazing song in the style of my favorite Styx period, “Equinox” through “Pieces of Eight”. Great pomp rock.

“St. Quarantine”,the refrain is a bit dull, but the rest of the track is not at all bad. Once again, a song that is closer to the last three Styx albums before the breakup after “Killroy was here” than the pomp rock that I love.

“Little Did We Know” is another very good song in the classic Styx style. Lots of energy and great vocal harmonies and interesting parts. Love it. Excellent pomp rock!

“Always Time” starts very Pink Floydish, or is it Allan Parsons Project it reminds me of? Either way it’s a good suggestive slow song, but still not quite a ballad. A grower.

“The Isle of Misanthrope” is another fantastic track in the style of the band’s pomp rock era. Another contender to the best track of the album. The only thing that might improve this masterpiece is if Dennis would have used real harmony vocals instead of a synth quire in the middle section of the song. Very Styx like, very good and I love it.

“Grand Finale” is of course a reworked version of the last Styx track from “The Grand Illusion”. A great conclusion to what is supposed to be Dennis DeYoungs final album. I hope it’s not.

All in all, this is a much better album then “Volume 1” and side 2 (of the vinyl) is much better than side one. My four favorite tracks, “There’s No Turning Back Time”, “Little Did We Know” and “The Isle Of Misanthrope”, plus of course “Grand Finale” all get the highest grade from me. The album artwork though, is not that great. I know it’s supposed to be a clever wink back to the first Beatles albums, but I doubt that the imagery will help album sales. Still I bought both the CD and the vinyl!

Line-up:
Dennis DeYoung: Vocals, Keyboards, Synth Bass
– Guitars: Jim Peterik, Mike Aquino, August Zadra, Jim Leahey, Tom Morello
– Bass: Jim Peterik, Jim Majors
– Drums: Mike Morales, Ed Breckenfeld, Matthew DeYoung, Khari Parker
– Horns: Tim Bales, Steve Eisen, Henry Delgado
– Accordion: Mr.Tacit
– Background Vocals: Jim Peterik, August Zadra, Kevin Chalfant, Suzanne Deyoung, Tito Gobi, Craig Carter, Mike Morales

 

Band: Dennis DeYoung
Title: 26 EAST: Volume 2
Label: Frontiers Music
Date of release: June 11, 2021
Time: 52.17
Rate: 8/10
Stand out tracks:
The Isle of Misanthrope
There’s No Turning Back Time
Little Did We Know
Proof Of Heaven
Hello Goodbye
Grand Finale