Styx II is a progressive rock masterpiece that was released in 1972, before Styx became one of the most successful bands of the mid 1970s and early ’80s. Like the band’s eponymous debut and the two that would follow, Styx II was released on the independent Chicago label Wooden Nickle Records.
Like all four of Styx’s Wooden Nickle albums, Styx II would have probably done a lot better had Wooden Nickle had a better distribution agreement with RCA records. That’s probably why Styx left the label, signing a major label deal with A&M Recorrds in 1974. Wooden Nickle sued Styx when they left, claiming breach of contract. The label lost the suit and folded a couple of years later.
Styx did actually have a top 20 single from this album with the song “Lady”. Styx II also earned the band a gold record, selling over 500 thousand copies. Both were the best for any Styx song or album on Wooden Nickle. The thing is, neither happened until 1975, three years after Styx II was released; after Styx had signed with A&M.
One of the highlights on Styx II is “Little Fugue in G” a Johann Sebastian Bach composition from the 1700s and the following track, “Father O.S.A.”. Both feature a powerful Dennis DeYoung performance on a pipe organ in St. James cathedral in Chicago. DeYoung would later revisit that pipe organ in 1978 for a solo in the song “I’m O.K.” on “Pieces of Eight”.