I was actually pretty torn between the first and second best Styx album. I just didn't want to think the first one with the classic Styx line up was the best. John Curulewski was the orginal guitarist with Styx. He was the first one that DeYoung drove off. That's not totally fair but they wanted to go another musical direction. They replaced him with Tommy Shaw.
Chrystal Ball is a great album. No "Concept" just album. Released in 76 the styles border on Prog Rock and Straight Rock. The opening track Put Me On starts in the prog rock catagory. Its okay but a great song for headphones. There was a whole area of music just aimed at headphones, Prog Rock. Styx never fully went into this area but for their first few albums of the classic line up really came close many times. The next track is the first of the Tommy Shaw era. Mademoiselle is good rock song about an affair between a skilled older lady and a green young man. A very good was to start your era. Jennifer is the next track from DeYoung. I like it, its the exact opposite of Mademoiselle this time a younger girl and experienced man. The key broads are very tight and the ending guitar solo goes right into the title track Crystal Ball. I agree with Ted Nugent, Tommy Shaw is one of the most underrated guitar players. An awsome acoustic rock song. And now a staple on AOR radio. Shooz is another Shaw song and probably the only blues song Styx ever did. Just a down and dirty blues song about the underside of the nitelife in Chicago. This Old Man is a DeYoung ode to his father. A sweet song, something DeYoung is know for. Now Clair de Lune/Ballerina is terrific! I love the prologue Clair de Lune, DeBussy was a wonderful composer and it leads right into Ballerina. I have always admired and desired Ballerina's. Something about the Ballet is just out of this world to watch when it is done right. The song is about a man who loses his love to Ballet when she chooses it over him.
I love this album and listened to it all this week. The next one will be rough cause between the next two on the list neither is a great complete album but I will let you know in a week.