Charted: October 13, 1979
Peak: 2 US, 36 UK, 11 CN, 21 AU
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US
Genre: classic arena rock
Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.
Total Running Time: 38:17
3.577 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)
Awards: (Click on award to learn more).
About the Album:
Styx hit the big time with 1977’s The Grand Illusion when it went top 10 and multi-platinum on the strength of two top-40 hits. 1978’s Pieces of Eight replicated the feat, setting high expectations for 1979’s Cornerstone. Commercially, the album kept pace with its predecessors’ accomplishments. In fact, it became their highest-charting album to date, landing at #2. Styx was even named America’s favorite band in a 1979 Gallup poll. AZ
The album was propelled by Babe, Styx’s only #1 hit and “one of the best rock ballads ever.” AMG Dennis DeYoung wrote the song as a birthday present to his wife Suzanne, thanking her for her patience with his life on the road. WK It “is a smooth, keyboard-pampered love song that finally credited Dennis De Young's textured vocals.” AMG It is “perhaps the prototypical I-love-you-but-I-just-gotta-go power ballad,” AZ which would “endear itself to a generation of prom-goers” AZ in the same vein as their “1975 slow-dance classic ‘Lady.’” AZ
The song “irked longtime fans with its MOR sweetness” UCR and created a rift in the band. Initially, First Time, also written by DeYoung, was intended as the second single, but Tommy Shaw was concerned about the band alienating its fan base by releasing two ballads in a row. He even threatened to leave and the division was so strong that DeYoung was briefly fired, although he returned to the fold before word got to the press or the public. WK
Instead, Why Me, another DeYoung-penned tune, was released as the follow-up. The more upbeat tune showcased the band’s experimentation with new sounds, such as horns, as did Borrowed Time. AZ The latter, a co-write between Shaw and DeYoung, was released as the third single.
The band also added mandolin and accordian to the mix on Boat on the River. That song and Lights “implement silky harmonies and welcoming choruses” AMG and showcase Tommy Shaw’s songwriting and vocals. Neither song reached the status of other Shaw favorites like “Renegade” and “Blue Collar Man,” but “Boat on the River” was a hit in Europe WK and “Lights” did get attention on album rock radio in the United States.
“Cornerstone is Styx at their most accessible and melodic,” AZ emphasizing their “pop sound more than the progressive rock influences that dominated their first eight studio albums.” WK “The songs aren’t as tight or assertive as their last few albums” AMG and the album “tends to sound a tad weaker than one would expect.” AMG As evidenced by the conflict over the album’s second single, Cornerstone showed “the first fragmenting of the group’s collective artistic vision” WK eventually leading to their breakup after 1983’s Kilroy Was Here.
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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 5/17/2021.