Thursday, June 5, 2014

Sci Fi Flashbacks: Killroy Was Here (Rock Album by Styx)

The art/hard rock band Styx first hit the scene in 1971 and had previously explored some genre themes in songs like “Come Sail Away” (from 1977’s The Grand Illusion) and “Lords of the Ring” (from 1978’s Pieces of Eight), but in the early 80’s the band focused their efforts on an all-out sci fi rock opera with 1983’s Killroy Was Here.  This album presents a dystopian future when a fascist government--heavily influenced by the fundamental religious organization the "MMM (the Majority for Musical Morality)"--has taken control and outlawed rock music.  The protagonist of the story is former rock star Killroy who has been imprisoned but who manages to escape (by disguising himself as Mr. Roboto) and plans on re-taking the world with rock and roll.  Mostly written by the band’s lead vocalist/keyboardist Dennis De Young, it was inspired by the run-ins that Styx and other rock bands of the time had with several fundamentalist groups like the Moral Majority.

The album definitely has good intentions, in a cheesy, art rock sort of way, but as far as grand statements it perhaps comes up a bit short.  And musically, it doesn’t quite measure up to peek of that band’s output like The Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight.  But it’s still a fun listen for the most part and delivers more than a couple of stand-out songs along with a decent little sci fi story that genre fans should enjoy.  And who among you can resist standing up to sing along and do the robot when “Mr. Roboto”—the height of 80’s cheese-rock—comes on?  To test that out, just start up the video below and see if you are capable of sitting still and not lip-syncing through the entire thing! 

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