Though Styx has lost some of its original members, their body of work holds up over time. The current lineup, featuring original guitarists Tommy Shaw and James “J.Y.” Young, cut this EP covering some of their best-known hits, fronted by Lawrence Gowan on vocals and keys. The spot-on synth and organ intro to “Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)” is worth the price of admission all by its lonesome, but all the songs will inspire you to recreate your favorite Styx keyboard sounds and parts. That’s because Gowan had to do the very same thing himself.
Since the original master tapes couldn’t be found, every sound and effect—including the monster synth dive at the end of the “Come Sail Away” solo—had to be rebuilt from scratch. “I tried to stay as faithful to the original analogue sounds as possible,” says Gowan. “Although my live rig has every sound I needed for the record, I started from scratch on each sound with vintage gear.” Gowan primarily used an Oberheim OB-8 he found in L.A. to replace the analog synths he’d let go of in the ’80s. “Most of the synth sounds are the product of that glorious love-hate affair I have with my old Oberheims,” he says. A seven-foot Steinway and a Hammond C-3 rounded out the studio rig. The one digital patch that made it through the analog gauntlet was a Solina string sound from his Roland XV-5080. He also used a Logic EXS24 sample for a string sound that was used sparingly at the end of “Crystal Ball,” but that was it for the digital realm. To learn more, and catch the band on tour near you, visit styxworld.com.