Album review: DENNIS DeYOUNG – Desert Moon/Back To The World

BGO Records

Dennis DeYoung was the vocalist and keyboards player in Styx, a band he helped form and left under a cloud in 1999. These two solo albums are re-issued on one disc with sleeve notes from Neil Daniels, along with the lyrics.

‘Desert Moon’ came out in 1984 just after Styx went on hiatus and this album had a top US hit with the album’s title track, plus ‘Don’t Wait For Heroes’ managed to crack the Billboard Top 100 singles chart and the album sold well. In his solo mode Dennis DeYoung lets his Braodway and ballad influences come right to the fore, no bad thing in my book although some Styx fans preferred the more rock orientated solo albums released by Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw around the same time period.

That said ‘Please’ is a decent rock tune with a Rosemary Butler duet with DeYoung working to good effect. It does get a bit too cheesy though on the sentimental ballad ‘Dear Darling (I’ll Be There)’, like a latter day ‘Babe’ one Styx song I can’t abide to listen to!

There is also a bizarre version of the Jimi Hendrix tune ‘Fire’, that has a very 80’s drum/synth feel and like any good cover does try and do something different than the original version. ‘Desert Moon’ may have been his most successful solo release in terms of sales and chart positions, however it is not his best and the very 80’s sound does date it a lot.  **1/2

‘Back To The World’ swiftly followed in 1986 and it is more likely to appeal to Styx and melodic rock fans. Kicking off with the majestic ‘This Is The Time’ (as featured on the ‘Karate Kid II’ soundtrack) the big chorus and tasty sax fills work so well in this song, one of his best solo efforts. ‘Warning Shot’ is another one of his best tunes built on a big guitar riff and a dinky synth riff on the chorus, classic stuff. He always does ballads so well as his voice is suited to the mellower, piano led songs and ‘Call Me’ is a perfect example of this.  ****

After another solo album ‘Boomchild’ in 1988 DeYoung was back in Styx for a reunion tour and album ‘Edge Of The Century’, before the band called again went on an extended break until 1995 when they came back bigger live wise due to a canny piece of co-headlining touring with REO Speedwagon which was a bit hot in the US touring circuit.

Due to ill health he left the band in 1999 and since then relations between himself and the rest of the band have not been the best and a reunion between both parties looks highly unlikely which is a real shame. He still tours and releases albums, with an emphasis on the Broadway side of his musical repertoire.

Any Styx fan should have at least ‘Back To The World’ in their collection and on this 2-albums-on-1 CD you can’t go wrong.

Review by Jason Ritchie

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