On January 19, 1981, Styx released Paradise Theatre. That’s 36 years ago. That album has seen six (almost seven) Presidents. Jimmy Carter was on his way out the door when this album was released. Hard to believe.
If you aren’t familiar with the album, it was Styx’s first concept album which was loosely based on the life of the Paradise Theatre in Chicago. It spawned the popular hits Too Much Time on My Hands (never been a favorite), Snowblind, and The Best of Times. The latter was the “theme” song of my senior prom (1982) – how you lived without that piece of information, I will never know. In my opinion, this album shows the diversity of Styx’s contributors with rocking songs (Half Penny, Two Penny and the aforementioned Rockin’ the Paradise) and the softer ballads of The Best of Times and She Cares. While diverse, it still plays well today.
Believe it or not, I did not buy the album as it came out, rather I bought it after I saw Styx on this tour. My friend Joe gave me a ticket to the show as a birthday present. If you have read my musings previously, you might recall that this show made my top concert memories (favorite concert experiences), you know this show is in my list of all-time favorites.
Back in the carefree days of general admission, you would get to the venue at least two hours early so you could stand up front by the stage. Joe & I did just that and wound up right at the rail on Tommy Shaw’s side of the stage. As the lights dimmed, a lone janitor came across the stage with a broom as A.D. 1928 was played. There was piano, dry ice, and I was beginning to zone out and then BAM! The curtain dropped, flashpots flashed, things went boom as Rockin’ The Paradise kicked off. As the show literally wound down with A.D. 1958 and State Street Sadie, it truly was a downer. Whether it was the music, the fact that I had never seen Styx, or the fact that I had never been that close to the stage, it was truly a memorable show.
If I remember correctly, I went and bought the album the next day on the way home from school. When the occasional Paradise Theatre song pops up, it takes me back to one great show filled with lots of memories – Will it go down as a classic album? Nah, but it is still a classic in my mind, as old as it is.