Released in the wake of Styx's dissolution, Desert Moon is a grand attempt to establish Dennis DeYoung as a major solo star in his own right. With the title track, a glorious power ballad in the vein of "Don't Let It End" that showcases every aspect of DeYoung's wide range, he seemed poised to conquer the charts, and the song did deservedly crack Billboard's Top 10. The rest of the record, though, shows the perils of DeYoung's penchant for theatricality. Where most rockers' conception of concept rock derives from some form of serious art, DeYoung is a devotee of the Great White Way. He loves to put on a show, to rouse a crowd and strut on the stage. His song-and-dance routine is in full flower throughout Desert Moon, whether he's exhorting listeners "Don't Wait for Heroes" (chorus: "don't wait for heroes/Do it yourself/You've got the power/Winners are losers/Who got up and gave it one more try"), jazzing up Hendrix's "Fire," mincing through a horrific fusion of new wave, arena rock, and doo wop on "Boys," and diving headfirst into a duet with Rosemary Butler on "Please," a song that makes Meat Loaf seem subtle. Some of these ideas are tied to the '70s but Desert Moon is very, very '80s -- all thundering drums, clanking synths, glassy electric pianos and overdriven guitars. The first side contains the rockers, the second the ballads and pop tunes and, although it can get sticky on sentiment and often rides a bouncy, dorky beat, overall, the B-side is the better of the two because it showcases DeYoung the pop singer. Nothing is as glorious as "Desert Moon," but that's a song that justifies an entire album.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine