Catalog Number: B0003922-02
Label: Hip-O Records/UMe
US Release Date: February 15, 2005
Review Date: February 14, 2005
Disc One (70:46)
1. Movement For The Common Man 13:11
i. Children of the Land 5:14
ii. Street Collage 1:55
iii. Fanfare for the Common Man :45
iv. Mother Nature's Matinee 5:19
2. Right Away 3:41
3. What Has Come Between Us 4:55
4. Best Thing 3:14
5. Quick Is The Beat Of My Heart 3:51
6. After You Leave Me 4:02
7. You Need Love 3:45
8. Lady 2:58
9. A Day 8:21
10. You Better Ask 3:54
11. Little Fugue In "G" 1:17
12. Father O.S.A.
13. Earl Of Roseland 4:40
14. I'm Gonna Make You Feel It 2:24
15. Unginished Song (Bonus Track) 2:59
Disc Two (77:21)
The Serpent Is Rising
1. Witch Wolf 3:58
2. The Grove of Eglantine 4:59
3. Young Man 4:45
4. As Bad As This 6:07
5. Winner Takes All 3:06
6. 22 Years 3:40
7. Jonas Psalter 4:39
8. The Serpent Is Rising 4:52
9. Krakatoa 1:35
10. Hallelujah Chorus (From Handel's Messiah)
Man Of Miracles
11. Rock & Roll Feeling 3:02
12. Havin' A Ball 3:53
13. Golden Lark 3:39
14. A Song For Suzanne 5:00
15. A Man Like Me 2:57
16. Lies 2:48
17. Evil Eyes 4:06
18. Southern Woman 3:09
19. Christopher, Mr. Christopher 4:00
20. Man of Miracles 4:56
(on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best)
Track Listing: 5
those unfamiliar with the pre-A&M Styx, they released four
albums in a two year span from 1972 to 1974: Styx I, Styx
II, The Serpent Is Rising, and Man of Miracles on
the Wooden Nickel label. Wooden Nickel was eventually distributed
by RCA Records (later part of BMG), and have seen numerous issues
over the years on various formats. When they were reissued around
1979/1980 when Styx popularity was at its highest, they had cartoon
covers, slightly altered names for two (The Serpent Is Rising and Man
of Miracles became Serpent and Miracles),
and a slightly altered track listing in the case of Man of
Miracles (the previously rare track "Unfinished Song" was
substituted in for "Lies").
All previous issues on CD have either been on RCA or BMG ,
and for the first time, are fully on another label. Bill Traut
is specifically thanked, and all tracks are
licensed courtesy of Wooden Nickel Records. I guess in the BMG/Sony
merger, maybe the contract with Bill expired and since UMe seems
to be getting behind Styx material, it was a perfect time to switch
distriution. Whatever caused the switch, it's nice to see the material
I'm not going to comment much on the music, but the only true "recognizable
hit" for most Styx listeners is "Lady", from Styx
II. I haven't sat down in quite some time and listened to
each of these albums. I really do have a fondness for the early
material, as it shows how the band progressed from a progressive
("Movement for the Common Man" on Styx I) to
the band they became in the A&M era that sold millions of albums.
All of the elements are here.
As with any band's early history, there are great moments and
some not-so-great ones. Arguably one of the not-so-great moments
in Styx recorded history as to be the "Plexiglass Toilet" part
of "As Bad As This" from The Serpent Is Rising.
To this day I wonder what they were thinking, just as I did when
I first heard it in 1983 in discovering the band's back catalog.
Having said that, it's nice to see the band is not "self-editing"
and choosing to only put their best foot forward and act like some
of this never existed.
The best part of this two disc set is the inclusion of the track
"Unfinished Song", which makes its CD debut. Prior to this, it
could only be found on either the b-side to the "Young Man" single
in 1974, or the Miracles reissue on LP or tape. As a collector,
it definitely adds value to an already easy to justify set that
has a lot of value. This truly is The Complete Wooden Nickel
All I can say here is wow. I'll say it again - wow. Since I own every incarnation
of the Styx albums on CD (the original RCAs, the 1990 "remasters",
the Japanese 1990 pressings which were different masterings, and the most
K2 remasters from a few years back), I can confidently say this
2 CD set is the definitive version of these albums
on redbook CD.
Mastering credit is given to both Adam Ayan from Gateway Mastering, with
additional mastering credited to Suha Gur of Universal Mastering East. Adam
Ayan also recently did the Rush Atlantic remasters, and is Bob Ludwig's protoge.
If I gad to guess who did what, I'd say Ayan did all of the albums, and Suha
Song", as it sounds slightly different than the others in terms
of mastering (or possibly a different master, such as a 2nd generation or
safety, was used).
As noted in my Bob Ludwig interview, the early Styx tapes were in good condition. I
also noted in the review of Come Sail Away that the versions of
the songs on that released smoked their counterparts, even on the Japanese
K2 remasters. I would tend to have the same comments: the songs here on The
Complete Wooden Nickel Recordings have better overall tonal balance (not
as bright - the highs sound natural), and there is definitely some good bottom
end. The Japanese sounds a bit more "aggressive" -
more of a rock mix (if you will). The Complete version is a tad
more laid back and smooth. I like both; it's just different mastering styles.
I did not import the tracks and compare waveforms, but these CDs are not
ear bleeders. I can listen at a comfortable volume and not get fatigued.
packaging is nice for such a budget priced set. The booklet
has essay by Martin Huxley, credits for each album, and reproductions
of the album covers, as well as credits for this release.
The Styx logo sports the Styx II look. The fonts used
are true to the Wooden Nickel logo.
A nice touch is the artwork on the CDs. They look like the inner
LP artwork found around the center (the brownish colors with the
buffalo), and even reproduces the Heads to denote CD 1 and Tails
for denoting CD 2. I
know as a collector I appreciate details like these.
don't know if Universal was really taking my suggestion when
I wrote my review of Come Sail Away last year
also hope BMG/RCA decides to re-release the early material,
and allows Gateway Mastering to remaster the early Styx
albums. If what
they did is any
the quality of
master tapes, bring it on! I'd buy 'em the day they were
I'd like to think they were. Almost exactly one year later
Hip-O/UMe has released the 2 CD set The Complete Wooden
of the later years of Styx who are unfamiliar with the early
works now have no excuse to go out and hear how Styx developed
from a progressive rock band on Styx I to the massively
popular band that sold millions of albums later. The elements
are there, although not fully formed in some cases.
set is not one to use to get someone into the band
as as an introduction to Styx. Any one of the existing A&M-era
collections should serve well for those purposes, with Come
Sail Away being the best of the bunch since it has all eras,
including the Wooden Nickel and CMC years.
With a $19.99 list price, this set is a steal. I do not say
that much about many Styx re-releases, but it's easy to say
here: four complete albums, definitive remastering, and the one rare
from the early years. How could you go wrong?