Saturday, December 20, 1975

Styx released “Suite Madame Blue” on Equinox album

First posted 3/10/2021.

Suite Madame Blue

Styx

Writer(s): Dennis DeYoung (see lyrics here)


Released: December 20, 1975 as an album cut on Equinox


First Charted: --


Peak: 7 CL (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): NA


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.344 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

In 1975, America was prepping for major celebrations of its bicennential the next year. 1976 wasn’t just the year that the country looked back, but the year that Styx looked forward. They had yet to become the juggernaut of classic radio, but they could see the possibilities. They’d broken through to top 40 radio with the #6 hit “Lady” which won them a major label record contract after four albums with Wooden Nickel.

Their first album with A&M, Equinox, arrived in December 1975 and during the next year, gave the band two top 40 hits with “Lorelei” and “Mademoiselle.” However, the album also produced “Suite Madame Blue,” which wasn’t a single but arguably became bigger than either of the official hits. The song became a staple at classic rock radio and a regular feature in the band’s concerts.

Dennis DeYoung, singer and keyboardist with the band, has called the song Styx’s “Stairway to Heaven,” FR a reference to the iconic Led Zepplien masterpiece and that each “starts slow and gathers steam as it roll on till the climatic end.” FR He wrote the song in response to the impending preparations for the bicennential celebration. Instead of writing a rah-rah patriotic tune, though, he took a more cynical look with lines like, “Red, white and blue / Gaze in your looking glass / You’re not a child anymore.”

He said, “You started seeing commercials for the B-Centennial mug and the Bi-Centennial panties and all of that.” FR He told Classic Rock Revisited: “The 200th anniversary of America was being totally taken over by commercialization…I had grown up in the so-called glory days of the United States of America, which was post World War II until 1970. To live in this country at that time was really the golden age. The fallibility of the United States was something that struck me and that set the tone for ‘Suite Madame Blue.’” SF


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Styx charted with Equinox

Equinox

Styx


Charted: December 20, 1975


Peak: 58 US


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US


Genre: classic arena rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Light Up (DeYoung) [4:17] (1975, 13 CL)
  2. Lorelei (DeYoung/ Young) [3:19] (2/14/76, 27 US, 30 CB, 28 HR, 26 RR, 9 CL, 6 CN)
  3. Mother Dear (Curulewski/ DeYoung) [5:25]
  4. Lonely Child (DeYoung) [3:47]
  5. Midnight Ride (Young) [4:17]
  6. Born for Adventure (DeYoung/ Curulewski/ Young) [5:12]
  7. Prelude 12 (Curulewski) [1:21]
  8. Suite Madame Blue (DeYoung) [6:30] (7 CL)


Total Running Time: 34:32


The Players:

  • Dennis DeYoung (vocals, keyboards)
  • James “JY” Young (guitar, vocals)
  • John Curulewski (guitar, vocals, synthesizers)
  • Chuck Panozzo (bass)
  • John Panozzo (drums, percussion)

Rating:

3.785 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Equinox was “a pivotal album in Styx,s career.” UCR After four albums with Wooden Nickel, they were signed to the major label A&M after their 1973 single “Lady” was rediscovered and became a surprise top-10 hit. The album sold 350,000 copies upon release and eventually went gold. WK

With “their synthesizer-led dramatics alongside Dennis De Young’s exaggerated vocal approach, the material on Equinox was a firm precursor of what was to come .” AMG It also showed a band “simultaneously inspired and disjointed“ UCR with “persistent progressive ambitions (‘Mother Dear,’ ‘Suite Madame Blue’)” UCR as well as “burgeoning mainstream aspirations (‘Light Up,’ ‘Lorelei’).” UCR

It also marked the final appearance of founding guitarist John Curulewski. He left before the band went on tour, leaving them scrambling for a replacement. They found singer and guitarist Tommy Shaw, who would become a mainstay of the band through its classic years.

The lead single, Light Up, extolled the virtues of smoking pot and having fun with friends. It didn’t make any traction on the charts, but gained an audience on album rock radio. It “is a brilliant display of keyboard bubbliness, with De Young's vocals in full bloom.” AMG

The second single, Lorelei, proved much more successful, reaching #27 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Although it was the only song to chart from Equinox, the album itself is a benchmark in the band’s career since it includes an instrumental nature reminiscent of their early progressive years, yet hints toward a more commercial-sounding future in its lyrics.” AMG

The “hard rock juggernaut Midnight RideUCR is the only song on the album written exclusively by James “JY” Young while Born for Adventure, written “about legends such as Robin Hood,” WK is written by him alongside DeYoung and John Curulewski. Curulewski sings the verses while DeYoung handles the chorus on prog-rocker Mother Dear. Lonely Child is “a melodic power ballad featuring 12-string guitars” WK

That song and “Suite Madame Blue show tighter songwriting and a slight drift toward radio amicability.” AMG Despite never finding any chart success, “Blue” found a place on album rock radio and became “the most well-known song on the album.” WK The song was inspired by the then-upcoming U.S. Bicentennial celebration and the over-commercialization DeYoung saw attached to it. It became a staple in the band’s concert repertoire.

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 5/18/2021.