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Pieces of Eight

Pieces of Eight

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Pieces of Eight is the eighth studio album
Studio album
A studio album is an album made up of tracks recorded in the controlled environment of a recording studio. A studio album contains newly written and recorded or previously unreleased or remixed material, distinguishing itself from a compilation or reissue album of previously recorded material, or...

 and second concept album
Concept album
In music, a concept album is an album that is "unified by a theme, which can be instrumental, compositional, narrative, or lyrical." Commonly, concept albums tend to incorporate preconceived musical or lyrical ideas rather than being improvised or composed in the studio, with all songs contributing...

 by Styx
Styx (band)
Styx is an American rock band that became famous for its albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Chicago band is known for melding the style of prog-rock with the power of hard rock guitar, strong ballads, and elements of American musical theater....

, released September 1, 1978.

The album was the band's follow-up to their Triple Platinum
Music recording sales certification
Music recording sales certification is a system of certifying that a music recording has shipped or sold a certain number of copies, where the threshold quantity varies by type and by nation or territory .Almost all countries follow variations of the RIAA certification categories,...

 selling The Grand Illusion
The Grand Illusion (album)
The Grand Illusion is the seventh studio album by Styx, released on July 7, 1977 . It became the band's first Triple Platinum album, and spawned the Top 10 hit "Come Sail Away" and the Top 30 hit "Fooling Yourself"....

album.

The band members produced the album and recorded it (like their previous three efforts) at Paragon Studios in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 with recording engineer Barry Mraz and mixing engineer Rob Kingsland. "I'm O.K" was recorded at Paragon and St. James Cathedral. This would be the last album to be produced at Paragon Studios.

The theme of the album, as Dennis DeYoung
Dennis DeYoung
Dennis DeYoung is an American singer, songwriter, musician and producer best known for being a founding member of the rock band Styx, a tenure that lasted from 1970 to 1999.-Early life:...

 explained on In the Studio with Redbeard which devoted an entire episode to Pieces of Eight, was about "not giving up your dreams just for the pursuit of money and material possessions".

Eight of the album's ten tracks have vocals, and it features two instrumentals, the DeYoung synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

 showcase "The Message" and Tommy Shaw
Tommy Shaw
Tommy Roland Shaw is an American guitarist, best known for his work with the rock band Styx. In between his stints with Styx, he has played with the supergroup Damn Yankees and Shaw Blades, and has released several solo albums....

's closing "Aku-Aku" (although for the latter, there was one lyric spoken, the title of the song). "The Message" serves as a prelude for "Lords of the Ring", and "Aku-Aku" is a postlude for "Pieces of Eight".

The album's cover was done by Hipgnosis
Hipgnosis
Hipgnosis was a British art design group that specialized in creating cover art for the albums of rock musicians and bands, most notably Pink Floyd, T.Rex, The Pretty Things, UFO, 10cc, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Scorpions, Yes, The Alan Parsons Project, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, ELO and XTC...

. DeYoung stated in the same 1991 interview with Redbeard on the "In the Studio" episode that he initially hated the cover but grew to like it as he got older.

Critical reception



Mike DeGagne of Allmusic praised the album, saying that the songs on the album "rekindle some of Styx's early progressive rock sound, only cleaner." Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

reviewer Lester Bangs
Lester Bangs
Leslie Conway "Lester" Bangs was an American music journalist, author and musician. He wrote for Creem and Rolling Stone magazines, and was known for his leading influence in rock 'n' roll criticism....

 was more critical of the album, however, saying that "What's really interesting is not that such narcissistic slop should get recorded, but what must be going on in the minds of the people who support it in such amazing numbers. Gall, nerve and ego have never been far from great rock & roll. Yet there's a thin but crucial line between those qualities and what it takes to fill arenas today: sheer self-aggrandizement on the most puerile level. If these are the champions, gimme the cripples."

The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard
Billboard charts
The Billboard charts tabulate the relative weekly popularity of songs or albums in the United States. The results are published in Billboard magazine...

 album chart, and like its predecessor would go Triple Platinum.

Track listing

  1. "Great White Hope" (Young) – 4:22
    • Lead vocals and lead guitar: James Young
      James Young (American musician)
      James "J.Y." Young is a guitarist, singer and songwriter, and member of the rock band, Styx. Young began playing keyboard and piano at the age of five. He attended Calumet High in Chicago and learned to play clarinet and guitar during those years.J.Y...

  2. "I'm O.K." (DeYoung, Young) – 5:41
    • Lead vocals, synthesizer solo and pipe organ: Dennis DeYoung
      Dennis DeYoung
      Dennis DeYoung is an American singer, songwriter, musician and producer best known for being a founding member of the rock band Styx, a tenure that lasted from 1970 to 1999.-Early life:...

    • Lead Guitar: Tommy Shaw
      Tommy Shaw
      Tommy Roland Shaw is an American guitarist, best known for his work with the rock band Styx. In between his stints with Styx, he has played with the supergroup Damn Yankees and Shaw Blades, and has released several solo albums....

  3. "Sing for the Day
    Sing for the Day
    "Sing for the Day" is the second single that Styx released from the Pieces of Eight album. It reached number 41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. It was later the B-Side of their next single Renegade....

    " (Shaw) – 4:57
    • Lead vocals, mandolin, all guitars: Tommy Shaw
      Tommy Shaw
      Tommy Roland Shaw is an American guitarist, best known for his work with the rock band Styx. In between his stints with Styx, he has played with the supergroup Damn Yankees and Shaw Blades, and has released several solo albums....

  4. "The Message" (DeYoung) – 1:08
    • All synthesizers: Dennis
  5. "Lords of the Ring" (DeYoung) – 4:33
    • Lead vocals and middle guitar solo: JY
    • Ending guitar solo: Tommy
    • Synthesizer solos: Dennis
  6. "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
    Blue Collar Man
    "Blue Collar Man " is the first single that Styx released from the Pieces of Eight album. The single was released in two 7" vinyl formats, one with the b-side "Superstars", a track from The Grand Illusion, and a second single with the instrumental album track "Aku-Aku" as the b-side...

    " (Shaw) – 4:05
    • Lead vocals and lead guitar: Tommy
  7. "Queen of Spades" (DeYoung, Young) – 5:38
    • Lead vocals: Dennis
    • Lead guitar: JY
  8. "Renegade" (Shaw) – 4:13
    • Lead vocals: Tommy
    • Lead guitar: JY
  9. "Pieces of Eight" (DeYoung) – 4:44
    • Lead vocals: Dennis
    • Lead guitar: Tommy
  10. "Aku-Aku" (instrumental) (Shaw) – 2:57
    • Lead guitar and whisper chant: Tommy

Personnel


Styx
  • Dennis DeYoung
    Dennis DeYoung
    Dennis DeYoung is an American singer, songwriter, musician and producer best known for being a founding member of the rock band Styx, a tenure that lasted from 1970 to 1999.-Early life:...

     – Keyboards
    Keyboard instrument
    A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

    , Synthesizers, Pipe organ
    Pipe organ
    The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

    , Vocals
    Singing
    Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice, and augments regular speech by the use of both tonality and rhythm. One who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music known as songs that can be sung either with or without accompaniment by musical instruments...

  • Chuck Panozzo
    Chuck Panozzo
    Charles Salvatore "Chuck" Panozzo is an American musician best known as the bass player for the rock band Styx. A longtime member of Styx, he founded the group with his fraternal twin brother, drummer John Panozzo, who died in July 1996, and singer Dennis DeYoung...

     – Bass
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

    , Vocals
  • John Panozzo
    John Panozzo
    John Anthony Panozzo was an American drummer best known for his work with rock band Styx.Panozzo grew up in the Roseland neighborhood, the south side of Chicago, Illinois, with his fraternal twin brother, Chuck . At age 7, the twins took musical lessons from their uncle in which John took an...

     – Drums
    Drum kit
    A drum kit is a collection of drums, cymbals and often other percussion instruments, such as cowbells, wood blocks, triangles, chimes, or tambourines, arranged for convenient playing by a single person ....

    , Vocals
  • Tommy Shaw
    Tommy Shaw
    Tommy Roland Shaw is an American guitarist, best known for his work with the rock band Styx. In between his stints with Styx, he has played with the supergroup Damn Yankees and Shaw Blades, and has released several solo albums....

     – Guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

    , Mandolin, Vocals
  • James Young
    James Young (American musician)
    James "J.Y." Young is a guitarist, singer and songwriter, and member of the rock band, Styx. Young began playing keyboard and piano at the age of five. He attended Calumet High in Chicago and learned to play clarinet and guitar during those years.J.Y...

     – Guitar, Vocals


Production
  • Producer: Styx
  • Engineers: Rob Kingsland, Barry Mraz
  • Assistant Engineer: Harry Andronis
  • Cover by Hipgnosis
    Hipgnosis
    Hipgnosis was a British art design group that specialized in creating cover art for the albums of rock musicians and bands, most notably Pink Floyd, T.Rex, The Pretty Things, UFO, 10cc, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Scorpions, Yes, The Alan Parsons Project, Genesis, Peter Gabriel, ELO and XTC...


Charts


Album – Billboard (North America)
Year Chart Position
1978 Pop Albums 6


Singles – Billboard (North America)
Year Single Chart Position
1978 "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)
Blue Collar Man
"Blue Collar Man " is the first single that Styx released from the Pieces of Eight album. The single was released in two 7" vinyl formats, one with the b-side "Superstars", a track from The Grand Illusion, and a second single with the instrumental album track "Aku-Aku" as the b-side...

"
Pop Singles 21
1979 "Sing for the Day
Sing for the Day
"Sing for the Day" is the second single that Styx released from the Pieces of Eight album. It reached number 41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. It was later the B-Side of their next single Renegade....

"
Pop Singles 41
1979 "Renegade" Pop Singles 16