Released: July 7, 1977


Genre: classic arena rock

Quotable: “Led Styx steadfastly into the domain of AOR rock” – Greg DeGagne, All Music Guide

Album Tracks:

  1. The Grand Illusion (DeYoung) [4:36]
  2. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) (Shaw) [5:29]
  3. Superstars (DeYoung/Shaw/Young) [3:59]
  4. Come Sail Away (DeYoung) [6:07]
  5. Miss America (Young) [5:01]
  6. Man in the Wilderness (Shaw) [5:49]
  7. Castle Walls (DeYoung) [6:00]
  8. The Grand Finale (DeYoung/Shaw/Young) [1:58]

Total Running Time: 38:59

Sales (in millions):

3 million
3 million



Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Come Sail Away (9/24/77) #8 HT
  • Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man) (2/18/78) #29 HT


The Grand Illusion
Styx released their seventh album on 7/7/77. It proved to be their breakthrough as it was their first platinum-selling album MD and it “led Styx steadfastly into the domain of AOR rock.” MD They blend “the progressive, keyboard-oriented intellectualism of primitive Yes with the gritty CroMagnon sense of guitar mania that used to be equated with such third-generation bands as Grand Funk and Bloodrock. Styx also possesses a strong sense of musical dramatics” JF and imagery with “simple, effective noise for the teenager in search of a progressive thrill.” JF

“Built on the strengths of Come Sail Away’s ballad-to-rock metamorphosis, which gained them their second Top Ten hit, and on the high harmonies of…Tommy Shaw throughout Fooling Yourself, The Grand Illusion introduced Styx to the gates of commercial stardom.” MD

The pulverized growl of Miss America reveals the group’s guitar-savvy approach to six-string rock.” MD The song was “guitarist James Young’s scathing attack on the Miss America pageant” WK although at least one critic felt it accomplished the opposite of its intention, saying it “reeks of misogynistic misdirection. What Styx thinks is a compliance with current feminist fashion turns out to be nothing more than a spiteful acquiescence to sexual bigotry and impotence.” JF

“Shaw’s induction into the band has clearly settled, and his guitar work, along with James Young’s, is full and extremely sharp where it matters most. Even the songwriting is more effluent than Crystal Ball, which was released one year earlier, shedding their mystical song motifs for a more audience-pleasing lyric and chord counterpoise.” MD

Singer Dennis DeYoung has discussed the album’s theme as “the struggle to overcome self-deluding superficiality in order to affirm one’s genuine value. This theme was reflected in the lyrics of the album’s title track: ‘So if you think your life is complete confusion/ ‘Cause your neighbor’s got it made/ Just remember that it’s a grand illusion/ And deep inside we’re all the same’.” WK

The song Castle Walls has an interlude inspired by Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells”, which served as the theme for the 1973 horror film The Exorcist. It has been noted that John Carpenter’s 1978 horror movie Halloween used a musical theme which had similar characteristics to the interlude of “Castle Walls”. WK

Review Sources:

Related DMDB Links:

Come Sail Away

Fooling Yourself (live)

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Last updated July 22, 2011.