Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Your all-purpose guide to the Foreigner/Kansas/Styx triple bill

Who says there's no such thing as time travel? Three of the '70s biggest bands (well, versions of them) have landed in the present and are now on a cross-country co-headlining summer tour. If you're over 30, you grew up hearing their hits on the radio pretty much every hour. If you're being dragged to the show by your parents, here's a guide to what you'll hear.


WHO THEY ARE: A prog-rock band from the state they named themselves after, Kansas had two massive mid-'70s hits: the soft-then-hard "Carry on Wayward Son" and the just-plain-soft "Dust in the Wind." Their blend of stoner philosophy (which mutated into Christian rock on their later, less-successful albums), arena-rock riffs, and complex, violin-adorned arrangements have kept them on classic-rock radio for 30-plus years.

CURRENT LINEUP: Steve Walsh, vocals; Rich Williams, guitar; David Ragsdale, violin; Billy Greer, bass; Phil Ehart, drums


BIG HITS: The aforementioned "Carry on Wayward Son," "Dust in the Wind"

ALBUM TITLES CONTAINING STUPID PUNS: Leftoverture, Point of Know Return, Vinyl Confessions

BONKERS SOLO PROJECT: The cover of Walsh's 1980 album Schemer-Dreamer features the shirtless singer pointing a gigantic revolver straight at the (potential) buyer. Maybe that's why it didn't sell very well.

AWESOME SONG ONLY REAL FANS KNOW: "Child of Innocence," from 1974's Masque

POP-CULTURAL CITATION: In the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, the title characters quote the lyrics to "Dust in the Wind" during a philosophical discussion.


WHO THEY ARE: Foreigner started out in 1977 as a solid radio rock band, co-led by tastefully slick guitarist Mick Jones (not the Clash guy) and soulful singer Lou Gramm. Their songs were catchy and extremely well produced, with a swagger that caught teens' ears without pissing off their parents. But with every album, Jones kept firing members, until he finally lost Gramm in 2003. Now it's just Jones and a team of hacks (OK, "journeymen"), including former Dokken bassist Jeff Pilson and Smash Mouth touring drummer Jason Sutter.

CURRENT LINEUP: Mick Jones, guitar; Thom Gimbel, guitar/sax/flute; Kelly Hansen, vocals; Jeff Pilson, bass; Michael Bluestein, keyboards; Jason Sutter, drums


BIG HITS: "Urgent," "I Want to Know What Love Is"

ALBUM TITLES CONTAINING STUPID PUNS: Double Vision (their second album), Head Games

AWESOME SONG ONLY REAL FANS KNOW: Nah — Foreigner were all about the hits, and they had plenty of 'em.

POP-CULTURAL CITATION: "Dirty White Boy," from Head Games, was used as the theme song for the TV show Dirty Jobs at one point.


WHO THEY ARE: Styx are a Chicago-based band whose mix of prog and hard rock might have pushed them into Kansas territory if original singer Dennis DeYoung didn't get his way. DeYoung's inclinations were more toward show tunes, and he gave the band major hits with "Lady" and "Come Sail Away," the latter of which could have been the showstopping number from a Broadway version of Treasure Island. By 1983's Kilroy Was Here, he'd taken the group into full-on rock-opera territory, and after the tour (complete with dramatic acting and costumes) kinda flopped, Styx broke up. Dig up the band's hilarious episode of Behind the Music for more details.

CURRENT LINEUP: Chuck Panozzo, bass; James "J.Y." Young, guitar; Tommy Shaw, guitar; Todd Sucherman, drums; Lawrence Gowan, vocals/keyboards; Ricky Phillips, bass

NUMBER OF ORIGINAL MEMBERS IN CURRENT LINEUP: 2 or 3 (Young, Panozzo, and Shaw — who wasn't there from the beginning, but played on all their hits)

BIG HITS: "Lady," "Babe"

BONKERS SOLO PROJECT: Both Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw recorded songs for movie soundtracks — The Karate Kid, Part II and Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, respectively. In 1994, DeYoung finally got around to actually making an album of show tunes, 10 on Broadway.

AWESOME SONG ONLY REAL FANS KNOW: They've got a bunch of 'em — the group's first four albums were eclectic, adventurous prog-rock efforts. It was only after they let DeYoung sing the ballad "Lady" that they became the cheesemeisters who ruled '70s radio.

POP-CULTURAL CITATION: South Park's sociopathic Eric Cartman is obsessed with "Come Sail Away" — if he hears the opening phrase, he has to sing it in its entirety — and has performed it more than once on the show, even managing to speed through it in a mere 40 seconds one time when he was in a hurry.

[From the Cleveland Scene.]

1 comment:

David said...

Dirty White Boy was never the theme For Dirty Jobs. It was only used in promo commercials.