Styx 1979 Van Giveaway Ad

You Know You Want This Styx Van from 1979, So Don’t Pretend Otherwise

Straight out of a Billboard magazine issue from February 1979 comes this groovy beauty:

Styx 1979 Van Giveaway Ad

Laugh all you want, but this made total sense in ’79. Styx was huge at the time, having released the successful Pieces of Eight album in September 1978. It was one in a string of multi-platinum records for the band. So who wouldn’t want to rock the paradise with a painted Styx van featuring album art from Pieces of Eight and The Grand Illusion? I’d like one of the tour jackets too, please.

Hell, I’d drive one of those bad boys around today. You can keep the Betamax player though.

Here’s some stuff I enjoyed this week

Here’s a fresh batch of some quality interweb finds I’ve come across over the last 7 days:

  • A rundown of the 15 best Burger King ad campaigns by Crispin Porter + Bogusky: Long live the Burger King! (AdFreak)
  • Tommy Shaw sits down for an awesomely candid and funny interview about his career in Styx. Hint — it involves lots of drugs. (The AV Club)
  • It came from Reddit — the Good Intentions Axe Murderer / Dating Site Murderer Meme. (Next Round)
  • Here’s a less-than-memorable Budweiser slogan from 1922: “Stimulates the Appetite – Assimilates the Food.” (Shorpy)
  • You just know this couple owns every Meat Loaf album and knows all the words. (Awkward Family Photos)
  • So how does Libya’s air force compare to the coalition’s? (National Post)
  • A series of excellent “Historically Hardcore” promotional ads for the Smithsonian (imgur)
  • Here’s a very cool set of artsy fartsy photos depicting old TVs shutting off, for those who remember what that means. (Make)
  • Twitter madness of the week — a bitter American named Peter Coffin stalks a vain Singaporean woman named Wendy Cheng. She does a little digging and finds out he has, among other things, a fake girlfriend that he has conversations with. (Xiaxue)
  • The video meme that won’t die — another Hitler rant, this time against the commercialization of SXSW. (YouTube)
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Come sail away, eh published a photo gallery of Wayne Gretzky today.  Most of it is pretty unremarkable unless you’re already a big fan of the Great One.  But there is one exception, this little nugget of concentrated awesome.

Oh yeah, Wayne Gretzky spinning Styx on the bangin’ hi-fi system, complete with record player and 8-track deck.  And you just know he loves all those cheesy Dennis DeYoung ballads.  I mean, check out that Elton John poster.

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Album cover of the week: Equinox

Although Styx is now shorthand among music snobs for cheesy ’70s arena rock (heavy on the syrupy ballads, please), there was a time that this wasn’t so.  Released before they broke big in America, 1975’s Equinox marked the creative apex of the band’s early period.  On this album they did a much better job at melding their prog rock aspirations with the crisp, straightforward hard rock they were much better at handling.

Other than the excellent music contained therein, Equinox is notable for being the last studio album to feature Styx co-founder and guitarist John Curulewski.  He left prior to the supporting tour and was replaced by Tommy Shaw.  Within a few years, Styx was one of the biggest bands in the land.

The whole fire/ice thing has been played out countless times on album covers and art in general, but this is a particularly appealing example to me.  Given that the art budget here can’t have been terribly large (even though this was the band’s first album for A&M, a much bigger label than their previous one, Wooden Nickel), the design is very well-done.

I’m also a fan of the blue color scheme and the thin, metallic rendering of the group’s first logo.  The logo, incidentally, was used for one more album (Crystal Ball) before falling into disuse.  Styx revived it for their 2005 album Big Bang Theory and it is now used for a lot of their marketing materials.

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Venture Bros. wrapup: “Tears of a Sea Cow”

Ever been on a blind date that you knew was a disaster right from the start, yet you felt obligated to see it through to the bitter end?  Such seems to be the recurring fate of the Monarch, forced to endure a supremely lame archenemy pairing at the beginning of “Tears of a Sea Cow” (working title “Murder O’Clock”).  But soon the misery is over, and he turns his attention back to his true hate…Dr. Venture.

After quickly (and permanently) dispatching his newest and lamest foe, Dr. Dugong, a frustrated and bored Monarch can’t restrain himself any longer – with Doc Venture away showing his Vacuum Boom-Broom, he gives in to his true feelings and takes #21 and #24 out to f&*@ up an empty Venture compound.  The Monarch and #21 take a hilarious slide down to the Monarchmobile (#24 wisely takes the stairs) and head out for some unauthorized henching.

"That's the smell of pure hatred."

"That's the smell of pure hate."

Back at the Venture compound, the musical trio of Hank Venture (bass), Dermott (vocals), and H.E.L.P.eR. (electronic rhythm section) – the next big thing since Eddie and the Cruisers no less – try to score some press coverage in the Venture Home News.  And it turns out Dean’s paper does have subscribers, including a lovestruck Henchman #21, who writes in and secretly declares his love for Dr. Mrs. The Monarch under the pen name “G. Viceroy”.

Later, after Dean (who seems to be acting more like his father lately) inadvertently disables the compound’s alarm system, the Monarch and company make their dramatic entrance.  Hank and Dermott (with his lighter safely, uh, stored) investigate, and soon clash with the Henchmen.  Desperate to not have anyone find out about their botched arch attempt, #21 shoots a possibly immortal Hank while #24 bribes Dermott to keep his mouth shut.

Meanwhile, the Monarch is back in the compound in a scene very reminiscent of “Tag Sale – You’re It!”.  He takes the opportunity to hock a loogie on one of Doc’s slides, and finds some way to rape a rebuilt G.U.A.R.D.O. (from season one’s “Home Insecurity”).  When Dean discovers the sick scene, the Monarch pulls some reverse psychology to avoid being tattled on.

After a bit of stumbling early in the season, the show is hitting its stride again.  Doc Hammer, who penned this episode, provided a great blend of one-liners and plot development.  There were lots of callbacks to earlier episodes, but they were expertly weaved into the story.  We got teased with the origin of the Monarch/Venture feud, and came closer to confirming that Brock Samson is Dermott’s real father.

But the best was kept for last – as the flying cocoon approaches Spider-Skull Island, it appears that the Guild of Calamitous Intent has finally given the Monarch permission to arch Dr. Venture…Dr. Jonas Venture, Jr.  That promises to be off the chain, on a trial basis at least.

By the way, I don’t care what anyone says, I love Tim Tom and Kevin (aka the Murderous Moppets, and newly rechristened as the Pupae Twins).  Their bloodlust and just plain lust for Dr. Mrs. The Monarch is comedy gold (“They were white panties, Kevin.  White.”).

Final grade: A

Best lines/moments:

  • “I’m so scared of your leftover prop from a Styx video.  Please spare my life, Mr. Roboto.”
  • “How much thalidomide did your mom take?”
  • The Monarch (aka Bare Walls in Baltimore) tricking Dean Venture into giving away the blueprints and access codes to the compound – awesome.
  • “We don’t get to do anything!  I’m like this close to arching the paperboy!”
  • “Oh, hey loser.  Changed our of your 1910 banker’s costume and into your Oompa-Loompa costume for us?”
  • “Two words: titty bar.  Just gonna throw that out there.”
  • “I just wanted to kick his ass!  I wanted to build a machine to kick his ass!  I wanted to build an empire to house the machine to kick his ass!”
  • “Who put the top up?”  “You will thank me later.  It’s gonna rain.”
  • “What is this, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?  Who else knew it could do this?”
  • Yet another knock on In Through the Out Door.  Guess that album really isn’t liked over at the Astrobase.
  • “Dean, don’t hide in the closet.”  “I just need a few moments in here!”
  • I love Hank’s serious voice (“Like the Highlander?”).
  • “I couldn’t run because I had a lighter up my ass.”  “OK, now I believe you’re Hank’s friend.”
  • “Give me the prize…I am the one!”