These facts are known: The year 1981 was the predawn of nerd chic, Styx was at the forefront, and Dennis DeYoung was the Elvis of the geeks. Back in these pomp-rockers' heyday, virtually all of the band's fans were geeky adolescent guys who knew FORTRAN and Pascal and how to keep a mixed party of two human clerics, an elven ranger and a dwarvish fighter moving along nicely as they hacked and chanted their way through the perilous Vault of the Drow D&D module. Indeed, the mind reels when pondering the legions of pesky kobolds and fierce bugbears that have fallen to +4 mithril blades to the strains of "The Grand Illusion."
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And today, those people are running the country. It's all too easy to visualize Bill Gates slow-dancing with his wife to "Lady" or maybe just slapping on this double CD as background music while he plots the next phase of world domination. And here is what Gates would find: a DeYoung unbound, devoid of any semblance of humility, a ridiculously pretentious guy with a bad curly white rug on his head who apparently believes that the music of Styx is the equal to that of Mozart, Debussy and Mahler, when it fact it falls well short of Journey, REO Speedwagon and even Boston. Oh, yeah, he's brought along a symphony on this ride, the better to amp up what he evidently deemed an unacceptably low level of bombast on the originals. But instead, the extra strings just make The Music of Styx sound like Air Supply with quasi-mystical lyrics and the hammiest singer since Sammy Davis Jr. And that combination most decidedly does not make for "The Best of Times," though there is no small amount of unintentional hilarity to be had in the spectacle of this lord of the geeks growing old so gracelessly.