Song Spotlight: Carrie Ann By Styx

Edge Of The Century is the 1990 reunion album from classic rock band Styx.  Internal tensions and creative differences lead to the band breaking up in 1984.  Thankfully the band reformed in 1990.  However it was without popular guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw.  In his place was New Jersey born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Glen Burtnik.  I count Edge Of The Century as one of my favorite Styx albums.  I would place it among my top five along with: The Grand Illusion, Kilroy Was Here, Pieces Of Eight and The Mission.

styx edge of the cent.

Edge Of The Century is a satisfying mix of upbeat rockers, mid-tempo tracks and ballads. Carrie Ann is the eighth track on the album.  Everything about this Dennis DeYoung penned song is pure Styx.  DeYoung was not trying to break any new ground with this ballad and there is nothing wrong with that. One must admit that DeYoung has proven to be quite adept at writing songs of this nature. Carrie Ann follows in a similar vein to prior Styx hit songs such as Babe, The Best Of Times and Don’t Let It End.   It is surprising that Carrie Ann was not one of the album’s singles.  Another ballad, Love At First Sight, was released as a single instead.  Love At First Sight, co-written by DeYoung, James Young and Glen Burtnik, sounds more akin to what was popular at time.  It is hard to say which is a better song.  I will say that Carrie Ann sounds more like a typical Styx song.

Carrie Ann opens with a dramatic, but all too brief, keyboard interlude.  This wonderful moment evokes the sounds of the band’s 1983 album Kilroy Was Here.  Once the main musical motif begins we are treated to familiar Dennis DeYoung ballad territory.  Carrie Ann would have fit comfortably on prior Styx albums like Cornerstone (1979) and Paradise Theater (1981).  The song slowly builds for the first minute featuring just  DeYoung’s vocals and keyboards.  The band joins in just before the first chorus.  The song is predominately led by DeYoung’s vocals and keyboards.  Guitars are present throughout most of the song, however the guitar play is minimal.  The guitar solo is simple, efficient and effective.  The guitar work is far from complex or flashy. The solo features a simple repeated motif. This simple melody is what the song calls for.  The song concludes with the guitar playing the vocal melody from chorus.

styx 1990

Extra credit must be given to Dennis DeYoung as the album’s producer.  Throughout their career Styx has produced most of their own albums.  Some may disagree, but Edge Of The Century is one of the best sounding albums in the Styx discography. All of the instruments and the vocals sound crisp and clear. The performances throughout are full of energy.  The band sounds confident, unified and full of purpose.    The music  sounds modern and contemporary without compromising the band’s musical identity.  Burtnik’s voice and music seamlessly fit into the sound and style of Styx.

Edge Of The Century is a successful reunion album.  When Styx broke up in 1984 many fans feared that the band was gone forever.  When the band re-emerged in 1990 with the single Love Is The Ritual it took many fans by surprise.  Tommy Shaw was absent from the reunion, but Glen Burtnik competently and confidently stepped in.  The reunited band produced a solid pop/rock album that was almost progressive/art rock free. Throughout the album there are traces and hints of some of the band’s progressive rock leaning, but they are quite brief. The overall sound of Edge Of The Century is Styx filtered through the sounds and production values of the mid to late 1980’s.  The songwriting of Dennis DeYoung and James Young does not stray far from their established styles.  Burtnik was able to bring in a more modernized rock sound and style to the band.

Unfortunately this lineup  remained together just long enough to produce this single album.  What would have happened had they stayed together will never be known.  I do believe that this lineup could have produced more quality rock and roll albums had they remained together.  With Edge Of The Century, Styx was able to produce a reunion album during a time of changing musical tastes and trends.  Gone were the long guitar solos and majestic keyboard runs  of the band’s prior albums.    Edge Of The Century is a straight forward and contemporary pop rock album.  In the midst of these various factors Dennis DeYoung created Carrie Ann, a wonderful ballad to add to the band’s repertoire.

 

 

Troy T.

6 thoughts on “Song Spotlight: Carrie Ann By Styx

  1. I knew who Glen was before he joined Styx. I had this album on cassette and it has some pretty good songs on it. This was the best track:

    Neal Schon plays the guitar solo on it.

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  2. Info on the demos from Glen himself:

    As for the “Son of Edge” demos, there were a very few CDs burned, I believe less than 10. I can’t say I know who ‘owns’ the masters to the tapes. As I’ve said before, I personally don’t think that particular compilation is near as exciting to hear as the legend of the material seems to be, so I prefer NOT sharing my copy…

    It does seem that one of the tunes, ‘All For Love’, was well received this past weekend at the NJ shows.

    Although I’ve listed this before, I’ll tell you the sequence of that demo (along with some details about the fate of the tunes) here.

    1. ‘It Takes Love To Make Love’ (written by Bob Burger and myself, I believe much of this performance was part of the Styx official release of the song around 1995. Tommy’s vocals surely replaced mine, however you can hear me on the final note “oooh” and I’m fairly certain that’s my piano playing on it as well. Kinda cool _ I’m like a ghost on that record)

    2. ‘Nothing In Common’ (a ballad of Dennis’, I believe all the parts were completely sung and performed by him)

    3. ‘Love On My Mind’ (A song I’d written with Rick Neigher for Rod Stewart – who never recorded it. JY, Dennis and I cut this version in Dennis’ home studio and the track sounds a lot more like the Black Crowes than Styx.)

    4. ‘Watching The World Go By’ (written by Bob Burger and myself, this was a stripped down version of the song I later recorded and released on my ‘Palookaville’ album.)

    5. ‘Beneath The Moon’ (this was a song off a solo album of Dennis’ – I think it was ‘Boom Child’?)

    6. ‘All For Love’ (written by Dennis and myself, this was my stab at joining the classic Styx sound with something somewhat current. To me now – a dozen years later – it sounds generally dated, but upbeat.)

    7. ‘Devil In Me’ (Another tune written by Bob Burger and myself, I consider this sort of a Prince/Fine Young Cannibals-influenced song. Very un-Stygian. Dennis has been suggesting we pull this one out and dust it off for his upcoming San Diego show, which I’ll be at. I’m a little reluctant, so I dunno…we’ll see.)

    8. ‘Someday We’ll Fly’ (Another classic Dennis ballad. It’s possible this and/or ‘Nothing In Common’ wound up as themes used in his ‘Hunchback’ show…you tell ME!)

    9. ‘Don’t Give Up On Me’ (This was a power ballad of mine, written with Plink Giglio. Much of the demo was recorded by Plink and me in NJ, with some parts overdubbed in Chicago by Dennis and JY, who both remixed it. The original version, without their parts, wound up on my ‘Retrospectacle’ album).

    So, as you can see, 4 out of the 9 tracks have been re-recorded and/or released very much as they appeared on the ‘Son Of Edge’ demo.

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  3. I would love to hear the Styx demos! I really enjoyed Burtnik with Styx. I have not explored any of his solo work, I will have to do that one of these days. Thanks for the videos. I do give Dennis and James credit for giving Burtnik such a high profile within the band.

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  4. They did record some demos as a follow up but they have never been released. Some of them have showed up on solo albums. I believe this is one of them, this is The James Young Group doing a song written by Glen. Very Styx-ish if you ask me.

    I also remember in 1990 they made the rounds on late night TV. I recorded everything to VHS. Quality isn’t great but it is all I had:

    Although ballad heavy Edge is also one of my favorites.

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