October 22, 1984 12:00 PM

Dennis De Young

Styx rolled out of Chicago in the early ’70s to the platinum popularity of such songs as Come Sail Away, Babe and Best of Times. De Young wrote most of the group’s hits, as well as playing keyboards, but it was his voice that made Stygian music instantly recognizable. With his often cloying use of vibrato and his earnest, almost operatic delivery, DeYoung is the coloratura crooner of pop, America’s answer to Leo Sayer. On Desert Moon, his first solo sally (De Young, 35, has been with Styx since it was a local band and he was 14), he turns that voice loose on material that is, with few exceptions, too restricted. A bluesy cover of Jimi Hendrix’s Fire reflects some energy at least. This version is arranged by guitarist Tom Dziallo who, not surprisingly, gives himself plenty of room to strum his stuff. The rest of the LP is made up of routine DeYoung originals. On many of them he seems to have patterned the lyrics and sound after Meat Loaf’s 1977 album, Bat Out of Hell, which was played at a frantic, cluttered pace and full of observations about teen dating rituals. This comparison is especially apparent on Please, on which Rosemary Butler duets with De Young, exactly as Ellen Foley did with Meat Loaf, and Boys Will Be Boys, which is distinguished by some bass vocals in ’50s doo-wop style. Even the two tracks on the LP that are the most melodically interesting, Suspicious and Gravity, sound formulaic and overly mannered. Thus we learn once again that you can take the boy out of the Styx, but you can’t take the Styx out of the boy. (A&M)

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