Tommy Shaw and the Contemporary Youth Orchestra: "Sing for the Day!"

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Tommy Shaw and CYO Sing for the Day

This CD  from Eagle Rock Entertainment showcases a 2016 concert Tommy Shaw put on along with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra, under the direction of principal director / founder Liza Grossman and guitarist/ musical director Will Evankovich at Waetjen Auditorium in Cleveland Ohio. The concert consists of songs from STYX / Tommy Shaw / Damn Yankees and, according to Shaw, the songs are some of his favorite songs he’s written and co-written.

To say the CYO played seamlessly with Tommy is an understatement; to say they are merely a “Youth Orchestra” doesn’t do them justice either.

I found myself throughout the entire album saying to myself, "These can’t just be high school kids."  (Indeed, one wasn’t--violinist Lavinia Pavlish. But she was a member of the CYO ten years ago, and has since gone on to perform in NYC. She came back by special request to perform in this concert.) The musicians sounded so polished, so spot on, that it was jaw dropping at times. Their pace and rhythm meshed so well with the songs you couldn’t have convinced me they were not a State Symphony.

Now, I am not an expert on symphonies, but I have seen and heard a good many in my years, both live and recorded, and let me tell you I have heard many that did not sound as professional as the CYO does here.

I'm taking nothing away from Tommy Shaw either. He was in fantastic form. His voice was spot on and as strong as ever, singing with the same passion with which the CYO played. The concert was so energetic you could feel the buzz in the audience, which was completely engrossed with and engaged in the show.

The recording, too, was so well done. The breadth and scale of the orchestra and pin-point placement of Tommy’s vocals and instruments gave me many moments of VHF (vertical hair factor, where the music makes the hair on the back of your neck spontaneously stand on end). In fact, there were several times that it sounded so good, the vocals and instruments sounded so real and lifelike, that I felt tears well up in my eyes. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been moved by recorded music like this, and move me it did.

From start to finish, this is a great collection of songs, starting with the very upbeat “Overture” and proceeding on after another, each song performed as masterfully as the one before it. Certain things, like the violin solo of “Fooling Yourself,” had me soaking up the texture of the instrument. I could feel the rosin on the bow as it passed over the strings, and the notes were so spot on that I replayed it several times just so I could keep enjoying the moment. “Sing for the Day” showcased how well the CYO could play complex arrangements and not falter one bit or overshadow the vocals. “Renegade,” with the audience clapping in time, was hair-raising, and the choir on “Blue Collar Man” were magical. Everyone involved in this concert played with such passion, and I believe they were recorded and mixed with that same passion. You can feel it as well as hear it--a veritable wall of music, where I could put myself audibly in the concert hall with them. A stellar recording and mixing job here, and a reason if there ever was one to have a good stereo system and prove that the CD medium, though not a good as vinyl, still has a lot more to offer than any download or streaming.

And there is even an extra bonus on this CD--a special version of “Crystal Ball” that features a lost verse that was never recorded before!

SING FOR THE DAY! has an exclamation point after it, and it is absolutely the correct descriptive punctuation here. Tommy and the rest sang and played like I have never heard these songs before. It is easily one of my favorite albums of the year, and yet another stellar offering from Eagle Rock Entertainment who, as you’ve heard me mention before, will be remembered as one of the most important record labels of the 21st century.

If you’re even remotely a fan of Tommy Shaw, STYX, or Damn Yankees, this is a must own. Emphatically, enthusiastically recommended.

Songs on this CD:

  1. Overture
  2. Girls With Guns
  3. Too Much Time On My Hands
  4. Fooling Yourself
  5. Diamond
  6. Crystal Ball
  7. Boat On The River
  8. Sing For The Day
  9. Renegade
  10. Man In The Wilderness
  11. Come Again
  12. High Enough
  13. Blue Collar man
Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0